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NP Cougars come up short in sectional rematch with Athenians

Thursday, February 7, 2013

NPHS senior Sam Lucas (41) rips a rebound away from Crawfordsville's Taylor Luft.
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LEBANON -- The North Putnam girls' basketball team entered Wednesday's sectional quarterfinal game with two goals in mind: (1) advancing in the tournament and (2) proving it wasn't the same team that got beat by Crawfordsville by 41 points in the first game of the year.

Though the Cougars came up short of victory, the team stayed with the Athenians until the fourth quarter and lost 48-32.

"One of my goals was, are we better the last game than we are the first game?" NPHS coach Curtis Lawrence said. "This is a team that beat us by 41 points (61-20) the first game out. We showed we're a better team tonight, and that's a positive going into next year."

North Putnam looked on its way to climbing the figurative beanstalk as it took control of the game's tempo and flow in the early goings, even taking a 12-11 lead with 6:20 left in the second quarter.

Freshman Taylor Nauert carried the load for the Cougars early, scoring seven points and hauling in six rebounds in the first half, but the defense of senior Cayla Kientz was just as important.

Kientz played at the top of the 2-3 zone, disrupting passing lanes and helping to prevent the Athenians star guard, sophomore Lacey Garrett, from controlling the game with her drives and passing.

Instead, it was senior Shelby Haggard who scored for the Athenians.

Haggard, recently named one of the top 100 senior basketball players in Indiana, had eight points and four rebounds in the opening half.

After North Putnam took the lead, Crawfordsville closed the half on a 12-2 run, including five from the free throw line.

Although they remained in the game, the Cougars didn't shoot great in the first half (6-of-21 from the field). That changed in an explosive third quarter.

NPHS outscored Crawfordsville in the third, 15-13, with a balanced scoring attack controlled by junior Bethany Wiatt.

The Cougars' point guard assisted on three of the team's seven field goals in the third and grabbed three rebounds.

Lawrence said the team changed its offensive philosophy from the first game, and the results showed as NPHS took advantage of its size.

"We changed our focus to get more inside offensively," Lawrence said. "The first time we played them, they played us mostly a 1-3-1 zone, and we weren't ready for that yet. They didn't do too much defensively tonight that caused us too many problems."

NPHS entered the fourth poised for an upset attempt but Crawfordsville upped its defensive pressure and held the Cougars scoreless for the final five minutes of the game.

"Lacey Garrett does just a nice job for them at the point," Lawrence said. "She had her steals, and we knew she was going to get those."

Nauert finished with 11 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cougars. Kientz had three steals and senior Sam Lucas added a pair of blocks.

Garrett was the Athenians' leading scorer with 13 points, adding four steals. Haggard had 10 points and five steals and junior Taylor Luft finished with seven points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive.

The loss ends the high school career for seniors Sam Lucas, Cayla Kientz and Cassie Aynes.

Lawrence said his seniors will be missed, on and off the court, for the contributions they've made to the program.

North Putnam freshman Taylor Nauert gets open for a jumpshot against Crawfordsville. Nauert scored 11 points in the loss.
(Banner Graphic/GRANT WIEMAN) [Order this photo]

2013 Sectional 25 quarterfinals at Lebanon
North Putnam 7 7 15 3 -- 32
Crawfordsville 11 12 13 12 -- 48

Individual scoring
North Putnam (4-17): Nauert 5-7 1-2 11, Asbell 2-6 1-4 5, Lucas 2-9 1-4 5, Aynes 2-2 0-0 4, Smith 1-2 0-0 3, Wiatt 1-6 0-0 2, Land 1-2 0-0 2, Kientz 0-1 0-0 0, Clodfelter 0-1 0-0 0, Heron 0-0 0-0 0, Pitcock 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-36 3-10 32.
Crawfordsville (7-14): Garrett 4-11 5-7 13, Bonebrake 4-15 3-6 12, Haggard 4-9 2-4 10, Luft 3-11 1-2 7, Funk 1-3 0-0 3, Hampton 1-1 0-0 2, B Brooks 0-3 0-2 0, Hutson 0-1 0-0 0, Greer 0-0 0-0 0, E Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, Schueren 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 12-22 48.

Rebounds (offensive)
NP 31 (4), CR 36 (18).

NP 23, CR 15.

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