NP hangs with top-ranked Covington in 64-56 loss

Saturday, February 17, 2018

BAINBRIDGE — North Putnam was right there, filling up Covington’s rear-view mirror all night long. For three-plus quarters the Cougars hung with the No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A. But over the final 4 minutes and 40 seconds of the game, the Trojans made 11 of 17 free throws to earn a 64-56 win over the Cougars.

Covington led just 54-46 with 4:40 on the clock and was playing a spread offense. North Putnam was forced to foul and the Trojans hit their free throws.

“(Covington) did force us to foul early. I thought we fouled the right guys (and) they had some guys make shots at the line. They’re just really solid at everything they do,” North Putnam coach Collin McCartt said.

The fourth straight loss didn’t leave the McCartt down. The Cougars played well against a tough opponent.

“We’re able to adjust because we’ve had so many injuries and goofy things happen to us this year. I’m just really proud of them,” McCartt said.

North Putnam hung with now 19-1 Covington with good defense and a solid one-two scoring punch from Elliot Gross and Andrew Pickel.

Gross paced the Cougars with 26 points and eight rebounds, while Pickel, who drew the toughest defensive assignment of the game, had 17 points and six rebounds.

“I thought Elliot was really good for us. I thought Andrew drew the toughest defensive assignment, but I thought he continued to fight and did some great things,” McCartt said.

The 6-6 Pickel had to guard Covington’s talented 6-5 senior Spencer Pettit, who started the night averaging 19.7 points per game. Pettit, the only Trojan scoring in double figures, had a double-double of 32 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 13-of-18 shots from the floor, including 4-5 from behind the three-point arc.

“I just thought we continued to fight. Pettit is a really good player and he hit some really tough shots,” McCartt said.

North Putnam trailed 17-10 at the end of the first quarter and fell behind 22-12 early in the second. But North Putnam cut the margin to six, 31-25, by halftime when Gross hit three straight baskets and Pickel two, including a three.

Covington switched between man-to-man and zone defense through the first half. The Cougars shot 54 percent (12-22) through the first two quarters, while the Trojans shot 56 percent (14-25).

North Putnam continued to hang with Covington in the third quarter. A three by James Duncan cut Covington’s lead to 36-31 with 5:34 to play in the third quarter. Gross stole the ball and converted it into a layup to get the Cougars within four, 42-38, with two minutes left in the period. But Covington scored six of the last eight points to take a 48-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

“The second half (Covington) came out with the zone, but I thought we got really good shots out of it. If we have a few shots fall, the way we foul in the situation might be a little bit different in the end,” McCartt said.

Covington opened the fourth quarter in a spread offense, but still attacked the basket. Despite a put-back basket by North Putnam’s Pickel and a step-back 15-footer, Covington extended its lead to 54-46 with 4:40 to play.

And then came the free throws, first the one-and-one with 3:29 to play and the double bonus with 1:08 remaining.

“I just really thought our guys were able to fight through some... sometimes when you defend and defend and people hit tough shots like that you tend to put your head down. I don’t think our guys did that,” McCartt said.

North Putnam wraps up the regular season next Friday at Eminence.

COVINGTON (64) — Cates 1-1 2-4 4, Tanner 1-6 0-0 3, Pettit 13-18 2-6 32, Bever 1-2 5-6 7, Brown 2-7 3-5 8, Fye 1-1 0-0 2, Kline 4-4 0-0 8. Totals 23-39 FG, 12-21 FT, 64 TP.

NORTH PUTNAM (56) — Gross 11-16 4-4 26, J. Duncan 2-6 0-0 6, Pickel 7-12 2-3 17, C. Duncan 2-14 0-0 4, Murray 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 23-50 FG, 7-9 FT, 56 TP.

Covington 17 14 17 16 — 64

North Putnam 10 15 15 16 — 56

3Pt. FG: Cov 6-13 (Pettit 4-5, Tanner 1-4, Brown 1-4), NP 3-17 (J. Duncan 2-5, Pickel 1-3, Murray 0-1, C. Duncan 0-8). Total fouls: Cov 8, NP 15. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Covington Bench. Turnovers: Cov 7, NP 10. Rebounds: Cov 23 (Pettit 10), NP 25 (Gross 8, J. Duncan and Pickel 6). Steals: Cov 5 (Bever), NP 5 (Gross, C. Duncan 2, Pickel 1).

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