By Jake Thompson email@example.com
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — CLAYTON — Cascade hosted West Central Conference rival North Putnam Friday night in a girls’ and boys’ basketball doubleheader and split with the Cougars.
Cascade rode a stifling defense to a 66-36 victory over North Putnam in the opening game, forcing the Cougars into 33 turnovers.
“We’ve been working all year on our man-to-man coverage ... we’ve got some speed and do a pretty good job playing the passing lanes and do a good job forcing turnovers,” Cascade coach Don Helmick said. “We’re not where we want to be with it, but we’re getting better.”
Sydney Stein led all scorers with 24 points while pulling down 10 rebounds in a steady effort.
“Sydney’s a hard person to guard because of her versatility,” Helmick said. “She plays extremely hard and is so strong and is tough to stop.”
Cascade broke out to a 17-6 lead in the first quarter thanks to some solid work behind the arc. Mallorie Smith and Hayden Stinnett each connected for two 3-pointers for the Cadets.
North Putnam’s two field goals in the quarter came over five minutes apart as the Cougars shot 2 of 11 from the floor.
Cascade’s defense forced North Putnam into a dismal shooting performance in the second quarter as the Cougars were a paltry 1 of 7. North Putnam connected on 12 free throws for the half and only three field goals.
“If we could quit fouling, we’d be all right,” Helmick said with a laugh.
North Putnam started the second half on a 3-0 run, but Cascade answered with 13 consecutive points to pull away 47-23 to end the third and effectively put the game out of reach.
Cascade finished with three players in double figures as Smith recorded 15 and Stinnett tallied 10.
Cascade’s boys climbed back into its game after a lackluster performance throughout three quarters, pushing North Putnam to the brink. However, Cascade could not pull out the win, falling 50-48.
“We fought back, took the lead and (North Putnam’s Jordan) Nauert hit a great shot to tie the game up,” Cascade coach Chris DuBois said. “It’s real tough but it’s our free throw shooting, not getting offensive rebounds and not taking care of the ball.”
Trailing 45-41 with 2:20 left in the game, Hayden Suter sank two free throws, and after a floater dropped for Brock Stephenson, the game was tied.
Zac Butler finished off a three-point play, hitting his free throw to put Cascade up 47-45 and he added another free throw moments later for a three-point cushion.
But Nauert sank a 3-pointer from way behind the arc to tie and the Cougars carried that momentum for the win.
After a slow first quarter ended with the teams tied at 8-8, North Putnam took advantage in the second.
Cascade shot 4 of 13 in the second quarter while North Putnam connected on 6 of 10 shots coming on open looks and layups. Cascade pushed past North Putnam’s full-court press but struggled to convert its shots.
Cascade would have been down by seven at the break if not for Schuyler Hart’s 3-pointer with less than five seconds left in the half that cut it to 24-20.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t come out in the first half and the start of the third quarter ready to play,” DuBois said. “When we don’t do that, we have to play perfect at the end and we didn’t play perfect. It’s hard for any team to play perfect.”
Colton Jones led the Cadets with 13 points while Suter and Hart each tallied nine.
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.