ROACHDALE -- Homecoming at North Putnam got off to a rocky start Friday night in the girls' basketball contest had the Cougars facing Greencastle.
A quick start out of the gates by the hosts was negated by the end of the first period and by the time the game ended, the Tiger Cubs ran away with a 61-29 victory.
The Senior Night game for the girls opened with a special moment as Morgan Robinson was announced as a starter and was on the floor for the opening tip, officially being recognized in the game.
Robinson was injured in an accident on Feb. 20, 2012, leaving her in a wheelchair.
North Putnam used that momentum to create an early 7-0 lead that surprised more than a few onlookers as Greencastle started very slow.
"We got out to the kind of start we wanted to get out to," NPHS coach Curtis Lawrence said. "We had a lot of movement on the offensive end. Greencastle also missed some looks I think they normally would make."
The Tiger Cubs, though, found their way back into the game with a trio of three-point shots from Lauren Bridgewater, Callan Taylor and Shelby Earl.
Trailing 12-11 after the first period, the hosts retook the lead early in the period but as the seconds ticked off towards halftime, Greencastle began to assert itself.
Alex Basile scored all nine of her points on three three-point baskets in the period and, along with a Jessica Lenihan three-point play, the Tiger Cubs went into halftime leading 32-17.
After the break, Greencastle continued to pile on the points, outscoring the Cougars 17-5 in the third quarter to push its lead to 27.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game became a flurry of substitutions and recognition for the home seniors but it was also a second consecutive comfortable win for the Tiger Cubs.
Greencastle head coach Brad Key said that he was impressed with the way his squad handled the slow opening.
"We've struggled putting four strong quarters together all year and those first few minutes were jittery," Key said. "North pounded the ball down into (senior Sam) Lucas and she did a good job of scoring.
"We had a couple of quick shots and turnovers and we found ourselves down 7-0. I told the girls at halftime I was proud of them because that could have been ugly.
"But at the end of the quarter, we were ahead," Key added. "We got some big shots from Shelby, Lauren and Alex, kept our composure and went on from there."
North Putnam was rushed by the GHS full-court pressure defense throughout the second and third quarters, turning the ball over 27 times by games' end.
"The press didn't bother us too much because we've gotten good against other team's presses," Lawrence added. "It did wear us down some because we had to work harder to get to the offensive end."
Key noted that the press played a significant role in getting his squad back into the game.
"Our press caused some problems, starting with Callan and Raleigh Amis up front getting touches," Key said. "Our defense sparked our offense and we began to move the ball well, getting rebounds and doing all the little things that it takes to be a good basketball team."
Lawrence said the start was ideal but after losing the lead, things did not pan out for his team.
"We knew eventually (the Tiger Cubs) were going to start getting buckets," he said. "Once they got the lead, adversity hit us and we didn't play a very good second or third quarter. That was the ball game right there."
The Cougars conclude their regular season with a trip to South Putnam and Lawrence said that the squad would have to be ready for a fierce contest.
"It will be a physical ballgame," Lawrence said. "It always is between the two schools. Lindsey (Blackman) has done a nice job with them this year. They've struggled some. They've had some ups and downs, just like we have, but I expect it to be a very competitive ballgame."
Greencastle, meanwhile, will face Owen Valley next Tuesday before the season finale and West Central Conference title decider against Monrovia.
For Key, a chance to be co-WCC champions would be an ideal lead heading into sectional play.
"We want to be playing the best basketball we can at the end of the year," Key said. "We play Monrovia with a shot for the WCC title. If we can't get pumped up for that and the sectional, I don't know what we can get pumped up for."
(Banner Graphic/TRENT SCOTT/em>)
At North Putnam
Greencastle 12 20 17 12 -- 61
North Putnam 11 6 5 7 -- 29
Greencastle: Lenihan 11, T. Stoltey 10, Basile 9, Earl 8, Taylor 6, Bridgewater 5, R. Amis 4, Covert 4, White 2; 19-60 FG, 7-18 3-FG, 15-24 FT.
North Putnam: Lucas 10, Wiatt 5, Asbell 5, Smith 3, Land 2, Aynes 2, Nauert 2, Robinson 0; 10-50 FG, 0-5 3-FG, 9-17 FT.
Greencastle 45 (15); North Putnam 25 (5).
Greencastle 11; North Putnam 4.
Greencastle 15; North Putnam 7.
Greencastle 23; North Putnam 27.
Greencastle 17; North Putnam 19.
Next Game: Greencastle hosts Owen Valley next Tuesday. North Putnam travels to South Putnam February 1.