County teams still alive for sectional semifinals
Cloverdale seniors Jalen Moore and Nick Winders are grizzled veterans at cutting down sectional championship nets, having done it the past three years.
Putnam County’s other teams, however, are hoping to get their first chance at the prized task in at least 14 years this weekend as they are all still alive in sectional boys’ basketball competition.
North Putnam (2002) has the longest drought, and will meet Covenant Christian in tonight’s first game at South Putnam. Cloverdale will meet the host Eagles, who have not won a sectional title since 2003, in tonight’s second game.
At Lebanon, Greencastle takes on Crawfordsville in tonight’s second game, seeking its first sectional title since 2004. Lebanon and Southmont play in the first game.
Here is a look at each game:
North Putnam-Covenant Christian
The teams met at North Putnam on Dec. 6, with the Cougars winning 73-68.
The contest was North Putnam’s third of the year, and the fifth of the year for Covenant Christian.
North Putnam will be hoping for a similar start to that game, in which the Cougars scored the first 11 points of the game and led 21-7 after one quarter.
The Warriors chipped into the lead during the second quarter, with North Putnam leading 35-26 at halftime. Covenant Christian cut the lead down even further, trailing 50-44 after three periods.
North Putnam was able to hold off the visitors despite 46 points from senior guard Jordan Webb — who hit 21 of 39 shots from the field.
Elliot Gross led North Putnam with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Treyton Smith added 17 points and Andrew Pickel had 13.
The teams met in mid-December at Cloverdale, with Jalen Moore stealing the show with 48 points for the Clovers.
Moore was as efficient has he has ever been, hitting 14 of 26 shots from the field and 15 of 16 at the line.
Allen Plunkett had 17 points for the Eagles, while Dalton Scott had 10 and Thomas Fanning had nine.
Cloverdale led 16-10 after one quarter and 35-17 at halftime. South Putnam chipped into the lead in the third period and trailed 55-40 at the final stop, but couldn't get much closer.
Cloverdale defeated Monrovia in the first round on Tuesday in a matchup of the only two teams with winning records in the six-team field.
The Eagles sit in a position hoping the Clovers may rest on their laurels and overlook them. South Putnam had won five of its last seven games, entering tourney play under the radar.
"You'd certainly like to see something like that," South Putnam coach Greg Dean said. "But the way I've looked at it since the draw, you're going to have to beat at least one of those two teams to win it any way most likely. In the worst-case scenario, you would have to go through both of them."
Like most coaches, Dean likes having the bye and only needing to win two games for the sectional title. It also gives him the most preparation time, since the Eagles played their last game on Feb. 20.
"We're looking forward to it," he said last week. "We will have had a lot of preparation time, and we have to make sure we maintain a competitive edge with as many competitive drills as possible. We are trying to hone in on some of the things we need to do."
Dean knows his team must try to accomplish the uncommon task of slowing down Moore and also keeping an eye on his teammates, who have supported him well this season.
"Jalen does so many good things for them, and they have enough shooters that they spread you out so much," Dean said. "When we played them before, it was close for a quarter and then Jalen got loose and hit some big shots. Their other guys hit shots in the corner. That was a period of time when we were giving up a lot of 3-point shots, but we've gotten much better at that.
"I'm not saying that we're great at that yet, but we're getting there," he added. "We are still a work in progress."
The Tiger Cubs opened their season at home with the Athenians on Nov. 21 and came away with a 51-44 victory.
Crawfordsville led 10-7 after one quarter, 19-17 at halftime and 36-34 after three quarters before the Tiger Cubs put on a strong fourth-quarter performance to pull out the win.
Colin York led Greencastle with 24 points, while freshman Brody Whitaker added 13 points in his varsity debut. Whitaker hit a pair of free throws with 16.9 seconds left to seal the win.
Senior guard Cam Harris scored half of Crawfordsville's points.
Since that game, the Athenians have been up and down with no more than a three-game losing streak but never more than two wins in a row.
Crawfordsville plays a good schedule, with several tough Sagamore Conference opponents, and also battled Class 2A No. 1 Covington tough last week before losing 49-45.
"Crawfordsville obviously is one of the best-coached teams we play all year," Rector said. "Coach [David] Pierce does a phenomenal job of getting players to do their roles. Cam Harris is an excellent, excellent player.
"It's going to be a tough game, because it's sectional time," he added. "We just need to take care of business."
The Tiger Cubs have grown and transformed by leaps and bounds since the first matchup, moving freshman Benton Parmley into the starting lineup and having classmate Nick Sutherlin to also join the team’s eight-man rotation.
Bollman only had three points in that game, but has been a consistent double-double performer.
Southmont, which defeated Greencastle by one point in December, will meet Lebanon in tonight’s first semifinal game. Greencastle and Lebanon did not play in the regular season.