Greencastle spoils Cougars' homecoming
ROACHDALE -- The winning formula for the Greencastle boys' basketball team this year: keep the pressure up on defense and feed the big man in the middle.
Things were no different Friday, as the Tiger Cubs (9-4, 4-0 WCC) defeated North Putnam 72-50. They forced the Cougars (5-9, 1-3 WCC) into 22 turnovers, while Nick Hutcheson shot 83 percent from the field for 32 points.
"We talk so much about how huge defense is. When you go into a game and you feel like you have a chance to stop the other team, you feel pretty good," GHS coach Troy Greenlee said. "We did that tonight and that's one thing throughout the year that we've been able to hang our hat on a little bit is defensively coming out and making it more difficult for teams to score."
The Tiger Cubs had to survive a first quarter barrage from the Cougars. The Cougars showed few ill effects when senior scoring threat James Hedrick went out with two fouls. Instead, they traded punches and the lead with GHS throughout the quarter.
"I thought Travis (Franklin) and Payne (Stewart) did a good job in the first half of really attacking," Cougar coach Nathan Marindale said. "Travis got off to a good start. Payne got us a lot of scrappy rebounds and some putbacks and scores. Those two guys really helped us in the first half, especially when James was out."
A late Kolten Everts bucket stretched the lead to 17-12, but Hayden Stuckwisch drilled a buzzer beater three to cut North's lead to 17-15 at quarter's end.
The second is when things started to really go right for Greencastle. A 12-0 gave the Tiger Cubs a 24-17 lead. While North Putnam was able to rally to within three, Greencastle was able to stretch the lead back to 37-28 by the half, much of it on the back of the 6-8 Hutcheson.
"I think the big part of the game was the very end of the first half," Greenlee said. "They made and run where they got it within three, and we were able to get it back up to nine. Then we came out in the second half and were able to do some good things in the third quarter to break it open."
North's turnovers were the big problem in the second and third quarters, with six and nine, respectively. It's no wonder they went from a two-point lead after the first to a 20-point deficit after three.
"We got down there in the second quarter and we just got careless with the basketball," Martindale said. "Guys weren't moving against their 1-3-1, and we were just throwing it around the gym. Guys just weren't making good cuts into the gaps of the zone. We just have to do a better job of that and take better care of the basketball.
"In the third quarter, I didn't think we were where we needed to be. Guys weren't in to help. It's one of those things where, as a coaching staff, you have to decide if you did things right."
With a 56-36 Greencastle lead after three quarters, the two squads traded baskets in the fourth for the final of 72-50.
Franklin led the Cougars with 11 points, all in the first half. Stewart and Jacob Lucas each added nine.
Martindale said he wanted to see a lot more of what he saw in the first quarter.
"We were aggressive (in the first quarter)," Martindale said. "I don't think it mattered if they were in man, zone, whatever they were in. Guys were aggressive; they were cutting to the basket; they were dribbling with a purpose. I just think there in the second and third quarter we were dribbling just to be dribbling."
For Greencastle, the night was Hutcheson's. After opening the game 1-for-3, he made 13 in a row, rarely venturing outside the paint. His teammates did a good job of getting him the ball and keeping the Cougars honest on the perimeter.
"When you have a kid like Nick who can really get up and grab the ball out of the air like he did tonight -- that's not really a natural pass," Greenlee said. "The kids know if they throw it up to him, he's got a great chance to get it because of his athletic ability."
He added that the perimeter players kept the defense honest. Stuckwisch led the way on this front, scoring 15 points.
The win was the 100th of Greenlee's career, but even more importantly, it keeps the Tiger Cubs perfect in the WCC. They travel to Monrovia next Friday to face the Bulldogs, who are also perfect in conference.
"Good overall team effort. I think a lot of guys did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor," Greenlee said. "The biggest thing is we get a chance to win a conference championship next Friday."
At North Putnam
Greencastle 15 22 19 16 -- 72
North Putnam17 11 8 14 -- 50
Greencastle (9-4, 4-0 WCC): Hutcheson 14-17 4-8 32, Stuckwisch 6-14 0-0 15, Lewis 3-5 2-2 8, Haussin 3-10 0-0 8, Hennette 2-6 1-2 5, Stevens 2-2 0-0 4, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Lenihan 0-3 0-0 0. Team: 30-58 FG, 7-12 FT, 72 points.
North Putnam (5-9, 1-3 WCC): Franklins 5-11 0-0 11, Lucas 3-4 3-5 9, Stewart 4-8 1-2 9, Hedrick 3-4 0-1 6, Wiltermood 2-7 1-4 5, Day 1-1 0-0 3, Porter 1-4 0-1 3, Muse 1-1 0-0 2, Everts 1-4 0-0 2. Team: 21-44 FG, 5-13 FT, 50 points.
3-pt. FG: GHS 5-17 (Stuckwisch 3-7, Haussin 2-7), NP 3-9 (Porter 1-1, Day 1-1, Franklin 1-3). Turnovers: GHS 14, NP 22. Total fouls: GHS 12, NP 11. Fouled out: None.
Next game: Greencastle hosts Tri-West at 7:30 p.m. today. North Putnam visits South Putnam at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.