Cougar teams get back on track with sweep of West Vigo

Saturday, January 6, 2018
North Putnam's James Duncan defends against Ethan Burgess of West Vigo on Friday night.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

BAINBRIDGE — North Putnam and West Vigo’s teams were just a combined 13-38 entering Friday night’s Western Indiana Conference doubleheader, so they all badly needed wins to turn things around.

The host Cougars were able to establish leads and maintain them in both games to complete a sweep of the Vikings, with the Lady Cougars winning 39-33 and the Cougar boys winning 57-47.

For the Lady Cougars, the victory was another accomplishment on the program’s return trip to respectability — as it marked the school’s first win in the WIC after two winless seasons.

“We did a great job of hanging in there,” NP coach Jarrod Duff said. “We made some mistakes down the stretch. We have struggled a little bit at the end of games defensively when we’ve had leads, but we were able to hang onto this one.

“I was proud of the girls for coming out with the win.”

The first half was played evenly, with North Putnam leading 8-6 at the first stop and West Vigo coming back to tie the score at 14-14 at the intermission.

North Putnam pulled away slightly thanks to five straight points from sophomore point guard Hannah Sims, which broke open a 16-16 tie early in the second half.

The Cougars led 23-20 at the final stop, but the Vikings cut the deficit to one on a Chrislynn Marrs putback early in the final period.

The remainder of the game saw the Cougars go to the free throw line 19 times and hit 13 to hang on for the win. A Dana Tennis trey was the only Cougar basket of the period.

The Vikings were able to get several putback baskets on the night, and Duff was not happy with his team’s rebounding effort.

“We have been rebounding better lately,” Duff said. “Tonight we didn’t block out very well and they hurt us on some putbacks. They are a physical team, and we have to do a better job of being physical.”

Sims led the Cougars with 15 points, while Tennis added 10.

In the boys’ game, the Cougars welcomed the return of post player Elliot Gross after an absence of several weeks due to an ankle injury suffered early last month.

Gross led the Cougars with 16 points and also hauled in eight rebounds, but got double-figure support from three teammates as Andrew Pickel had 13, Caleb Duncan had 12 and Treyton Smith added 10.

North Putnam coach Collin McCartt liked both the return of Gross and the balanced scoring his team achieved.

“That’s one of the things that came from Elliot being out,” he said. “Other people needed to step up and do more things and feel comfortable in that role. I think that helped us.”

West Vigo took an 11-10 lead after one period, as Collin Salyers hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Gross scored North Putnam’s first seven points of the game, and Pickel added a trey midway through the period.

The second quarter was played evenly, with the Vikings still holding a 1-point lead at the half.

Gross added a steal and a layup with 3:25 left in the half for the only Cougar points in the final 5:39 of the half.

The Cougars did not shoot well against the changing Vikings defenses, hitting just 5 of 18 shots.

“We had a little bit of trouble offensively adjusting to having Elliot back out there,” McCartt said. “We weren’t necessarily used to looking to the post, and there were some times we were not used to looking down there. They figured it out pretty quickly.”

The Cougars responded with 18 points in the third period, as Duncan hit a pair of treys and James Duncan added another one. Gross had only two points in the period, and the Cougars led 37-30 at the final stop.

In a few games this season, the Cougars have had sizeable leads in the second half to slip away.

McCartt was pleased his team was able to hold on and not let this one follow that path.

“One thing we have improved on is at the defensive end, and we had to,” he said. “The guys are doing a lot better job of positioning off the ball, and getting pressure on the ball. Treyton did a great job of pressuring their ball-handlers and making those guys make plays.”

The Vikings were bigger physically, with 6-3, 220-pound Robert Dickerson and 6-0, 210-pound Ethan Burgess providing bigger bodies than the Cougars.

“We did a good job in the post,” McCartt said. “Dickerson has had some big games for them, and we did a good job on them. Elliot did a good job in positioning.”

The Cougars hit 11 of 14 free throws in the final period, another factor that McCartt likes in seeing his team continue to improve.

“We’ve had some games where we didn’t hit them, so that was great to see,” he said. “That’s one of the small parts of the game that add up that we have gotten better at.”

North Putnam’s boys improved to 4-7 overall and 2-2 in the West Division of the WIC, where the Cougars stand alone in third place.

They play tonight at North Vermillion. The Cougar girls now stand at 6-11 overall and 1-3 in the WIC, putting them in a tie for fourth place.

They play next on Friday when they host Greencastle in the final night of WIC divisional play.

Girls game

WEST VIGO (33) — Meehan 3-9 3-4 9, Scott 1-1 0-6 2, Dean 0-2 0-0 0, Sweitzer 0-1 0-0 0, Elkins 2-7 3-4 8, Marrs 2-10 3-4 7, Mauk 0-1 1-2 1, Likens 2-4 0-0 4, Stepp 1-3 0-0 2, Charters 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 10-38 FG, 10-21 FT, 33 TP

NORTH PUTNAM (39) — Sims 5-7 5-12 15, Lyons 0-6 2-2 2, Osburn 2-6 1-3 5, Tennis 2-6 4-6 10, Runnells 0 -2 3-4 3, Gibson 0-5 4-6 4, Young 0-1 0-2 0, Day 0-2 0-0 0, Simmerman 0-0 0-0 0, Gierke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-35 FG, 19-35 FT, 39 TP

West Vigo 6 8 6 13 — 33

North Putnam 8 6 9 16 — 39

3-point shooting — WV 1-6 (Meehan 0-2, Dean 0-1, Elkins 1-2, Stepp 0-1), NP 2-8 (Lyons 0-4, Tennis 2-3, Runnells 0-1). Turnovers — West Vigo 17, North Putnam 16.

Boys game

WEST VIGO (47) — Dickerson 3-5 0-0 6, Salyers 7-15 1-3 19, Hannahs 2-7 0-0 5, Burgess 2-8 3-4 7, Stoner 1-3 0-0 3, Minton 0-2 0-0 0, Elkins 0-1 0-0 0, Andrews 1-5 5-6 7. Totals 16-46 FG, 89-13 FT, 47 TP

NORTH PUTNAM (57) — Gross 6-10 4-6 16, C.Duncan 3-7 3-4 12, Smith 1-4 7-9 10, Pickel 4-8 4-6 13, J.Duncan 1-7 0-0 3, Murray 1-2 0-0 3, Davies 0-2 0-0 0. Totals16-39 FG, 18-24 FT, 57 TP

West Vigo 11 9 10 17 — 47

North Putnam 10 9 18 20 — 57

3-point goals — WV 6-13 (Salyers 4-8, Hannahs 1-2, Stoner 1-2), NP 7-19 (C.Duncan 3-7, Smith 1-4, Pickel 1-2, J.Duncan 1-6.)

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