Girls Basketball

Athenians can’t dig out of early hole vs Cougars


BAINBRIDGE – The North Putnam Cougars exploded out of the gate with a big first quarter lead and held off the Crawfordsville Athenians, 52-38, in a girls’ high school basketball game on Tuesday night.

The host Cougars scored the first 17 points of the game and never allowed Crawfordsville to cut the lead under double digits as the Cougar defense forced 22 first half turnovers with their press and had command of the game all night long.

The victory improved North’s record to 2-2, while the Athenians dropped to 0-2 on the season.

“This was the first time we got off fast and we needed it. We thought our press could do some damage and it did,” North Putnam head coach Curtis Lawrence said.

North’s Hailee Daigle scored five quick points to start the period, then several Cougars got in the act as Melanie Davies came off the bench to score four points while a three-pointer by Jenna Day capped a 17-0 run to start the game.

Olivia Hedrick finally picked up a bucket to get the Athenians on the board and Crawfordsville was able to cut into the lead but trailed 20-7 after one quarter of action.

North’s Hailee Daigle had all 10 of her points in that pivotal first quarter as she nailed two treys and a couple of layups.

“We came out ready to play, but it kind of snowballed. We came out and missed a layup, they hit a shot and it was one thing after another. The girls just couldn’t get it under control,” Crawfordsville head coach Joe Ferguson said after using three timeouts in the first quarter to try and stem the tide.

The two teams traded baskets early and then the elder Daigle, Lexi, scored the final five points of the half to give the Cougars a 33-17 halftime lead.

North took advantage of 22 turnovers by Crawfordsville in the first half. The Cougar press was active and forced several errant passes and prevented the Athenians from getting anything going.

“We talk about the turnovers. If you have 15-20 turnovers then that means you are going to have 15 or 20 less chances to get shots or score,” Ferguson said.

The teams cut down on the turnovers in the third quarter, but the depth of the Cougars began to be telling. North boosted its lead to as much as 22 points, getting scores from five different players in the quarter.

In the game, the Cougars played 13 players significant minutes. That depth was key for North as they would limit the Athenians to just six points in the quarter on 2-of-9 shooting to take a 45-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Depth is a blessing and a curse. It is tough to get everyone minutes, but coach (Kelly) Windmiller does a great job of getting the girls in out of the game. We are going to play a lot of girls,” Lawrence said.

The Athenians wouldn’t go away, methodically cutting into the lead after trading a couple of early buckets.

Crawfordsville would trail just 50-36 after a Taylor Abston layup with still over three minutes to play, but Jenna Day would answer with a layup and the suffocating Cougar defense prevented the visitors from getting any closer as the final would be set at 52-38.

“Give Crawfordsville) a ton of credit. They did a great job of making a game of it in the second half. I thought we lost a little focus later in the game,” Lawrence said.

“When we got into our sets in the second half, I thought we executed pretty well. I wish we could have done that earlier in the game,” Ferguson said.

Crawfordsville’s Abston led the Athenians with 10 points, while Lexi Daigle led the Cougars and all scorers with 16 points. Hailee Daigle and Melanie Davies chipped in with 10 points each for North.

Crawfordsville will play again on Friday when they travel for a Sagamore Conference battle with Tri-West, while the Cougars will travel to Covington on Thursday night.