SOUTH PUTNAM SECTIONAL: Clovers seek fourth straight title; Cougars looking to reach semifinals

Monday, February 26, 2018
Elliot Gross looks to tip the ball away from traffic against North Montgomery earlier this year.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

North Putnam and Cloverdale will begin play tonight in the South Putnam Sectional boys’ basketball tournament, while the host Eagles have a first-round bye and will not open until Friday night.

Cloverdale is the three-time defending champion of the sectional, while North Putnam is looking for its first win in a sectional game since March 5, 2014.

Here is a look at each first-round game:

Game one

Cascade has defeated North Putnam twice this year, winning 53-49 on its homecourt just before Christmas and winning the Western Indiana Conference crossover game at Bainbridge 57-44 on Jan. 26.

North Putnam coach Collin McCartt knows where his team’s focus needs to begin, with 6-5 senior Dalton DuBois.

“DuBois can shoot and scores in a lot of different ways,” McCartt said. “We have to be able to defend Dalton in the post and keep him off the boards. Something he’s so good at is following the shot and getting offensive rebounds for him.

“We have to be able to keep him off the boards, and make sure that [sophomore Mason Tharp] doesn’t get open looks,” he added. “Tharp has played well for them lately. He’s a scoring threat from the outside.”

The Cougars finished with a 7-15 record in the regular season, a deceiving mark considering senior point guard Treyton Smith’s recent absences and an even longer stretch when leading scorer Elliot Gross was sidelined with an ankle injury.

The Cougars will welcome Smith back to the lineup tonight. Smith suffered a hand injury during the county tournament earlier this month and has been sidelined for the past couple of weeks.

“He practiced on Monday, and I believe we will have him in the lineup,” McCartt said. “How long he can go, we aren’t sure about yet. His hand is weak and still a little tender. He’s a tough guy.”

The Cougars have shown bright spots on occasion, and McCartt is waiting for his team to be healthy and put together its best outing of the season.

“Our guys understand obviously we haven’t had things rolling our way lately,” he said. “But they are really excited. We have played some good basketball the last few weeks, even though we haven’t gotten the results we wanted.”

Among those good games was an eight-point loss to No. 1-ranked Covington on Feb. 16.

Like most coaches, McCartt would have preferred to have drawn a first-round bye in the six-team bracket but likes the draw overall.

His team has lost to eventual champion Cloverdale in the first round each of the past two seasons.

“It’s a different opponent, that’s for sure,” McCartt said. “I think as far as draws go it’s solid, although every coach would like to have the bye.

McCartt said his team is ready for the challenge tonight.

“Cascade is obviously a familiar opponent, and our guys are motivated to play them,” he said. “We knew we didn’t play very good basketball against them the last time,” he added. “They came out and played well against us.”

Game two

The Clovers and Monrovia are the only two teams in the field with winning records, and coach Patrick Rady does not think his team’s first-round game is automatically the championship.

“It’s really a pretty well-balanced sectional,” he said. “I’m not sure there is a great draw, unless you only have to play two games. Other than that, the teams have a lot of balance this year.

“There are a lot of teams with size, and we’re playing one of them,” he said. “Other teams like South Putnam, Cascade and North Putnam score a lot in the paint. That’s going to be one area where the team that wins the sectional is going to have to be able to defend the paint.”

Cloverdale and Monrovia met on Dec. 9 as the Clovers were on the second night of back-to-back road trips.

They had won 77-75 at Indian Creek on Friday, and then picked up a 48-45 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday.

“It was a lower scoring game than usual for both teams,” Rady said. “Both teams guarded well. Max Newman [6-7 junior] is obviously a tough matchup, and he was able to get some points on us inside.

“We definitely have to make sure we box him out,” he added. “He can beat you on the pick and roll, off of a post-up and on offensive rebounds. The first game was one that went down to the wire and was a competitive game.”

Jalen Moore drives to the basket earlier this season.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

Cloverdale’s Jalen Moore, the state’s leading scorer and 16th all-time, had 30 of his team’s 48 points in the first matchup.

Rady attributed the low score of the first game to bad outside shooting.

“Both teams struggled to hit from the outside,” he recalls. “We were 4-20 from 3-point range, and they were 2 for 14. That’s below average for both teams.”

Newman had 19 points for Monrovia and 11 rebounds in that game. The Bulldogs had 12 offensive rebounds in that game in holding a 33-20 advantage on the boards.

Rady thinks his team has definitely improved over the course of the season.

“Rebounding has been a point of emphasis, and we have done better down the stretch against teams bigger than us,” he said. “Our defense at times has been pretty good. We still lack some consistency for an entire game.

“I think Monrovia has improved as well,” Rady added. “Offensively, Jalen was our only guy in double figures in the first game. We have gotten better to get him help in scoring.”

And if all else fails, the Clovers have Moore to fall back on.

The 5-10 guard has seen all kinds of defenses this year and has still poured in big numbers every game.

He has only been held under 30 points three times in 23 games despite the heavy attention drawn from opposing teams.

The winner of the Cloverdale-Monrovia will meet South Putnam in the semifinals on Friday.

“South Putnam has been playing well lately, and the teams on the other side of the bracket are also very dangerous,” he said. “We hope the schedule we play has allowed us to play against many different styles and will help us in this tourney.”


North Putnam (7-15) vs. Cascade (10-12)

Tipoff: 6 p.m. at South Putnam.

Media coverage: WREB-FM 94.3 will broadcast the game on radio, and will livestream the game via video.

The coaches: Collin McCartt is in his fourth year at North Putnam. Chris DuBois is in his 14th year at Cascade.

Season recap: North Putnam broke a four-game losing streak with its season-ending win at Eminence on Friday. The Cadets lost two of their last three games to end the regular season after winning four straight prior to that stretch.

Opponents’ records: NP 269-250, Cascade 263-230.

John Harrell prediction: Cascade 56, North Putnam 53.

Per-game averages: Offense – Cascade 49.9, NP 54.9. Defense – Cascade 57.8, NP 58.5.

Last sectional title: NP 2002, Cascade 2006.

The history: Cascade won 57-55 at Bainbridge in January, and leads the series 20-15 over the past 30 years.

Key players: Elliot Gross leads the Cougars in scoring. Dalton DuBois leads the Cadets in scoring at 19.0 points per game.

Cloverdale (17-6) vs. Monrovia (15-8)

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. at South Putnam

Media coverage: WREB-FM 94.3 will broadcast the game on radio, and will livestream the game via video.

The coaches: Patrick Rady is in his third year at Cloverdale. Kyle Swafford is in his second year at Monrovia.

Season recap: Cloverdale won four of its last five games to end the regular season. Monrovia won its last five games to end the regular season.

Opponents’ records: Cloverdale 273-251, Monrovia 246-265

John Harrell prediction: Cloverdale 57, Monrovia 55.

Per-game averages: Offense – Cloverdale 65.6, Monrovia 53.4. Defense – Cloverdale 60.1, Monrovia 47.0.

Last sectional title: Cloverdale 2015-17, Monrovia 2000.

The history: Cloverdale won 48-45 at Monrovia in December. Monrovia leads the series 24-18 over the past 30 years.

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