South Putnam looks to cut nets down on home floor

At 12-10, the South Putnam girl's basketball team doesn't need a lot of motivation of what is at stake this week.
The Eagles are hosting the sectional on their home floor and head coach Brian Gardner hopes that is enough to bring out the best from his team.

"We have had several players play well this season for us. It has been a great thing about this team is that each night different girls have stepped up when needed," Gardner told The Putnam County Post. 

Leading the way for South Putnam in scoring has been Chlara Pistelli, while Gardner said Danae Cline has been "outstanding" at running the offense at the point guard position and being South Putnam's "floor leader."

"Madison Gardner has been extremely consistent as our only real post player. Drew Gardner and Lyla Rissler have shot the ball well the second half of the year as freshmen," Gardner said. 

For South Putnam, the opportunity to cut down the nets begins with a date against Southmont Wednesday. Earlier this season, the Eagles knocked off Southmont, 49-41, November 20. 
Gardner said the sectional draw creates challenges for South Putnam.

"Southmont is a very good team with a good guard in Mason. She is very active on the defensive side of the ball and they have two posts in Jenkins and Gomez, who are good on the inside," Gardner said. 

What will it take to get the win and advance to Friday, where South Putnam would face the winner of sectional favorite Parke Heritage and Cloverdale?

"We will have to play good, solid basketball and not turn the ball over on Wednesday night. We were able to beat them earlier in the year. Parke Heritage is considered the favorite and would likely be the opponent on Friday night," Gardner said. 

Cloverdale ready for sectional tourney

With only two wins in the regular season, Cloverdale girl's basketball coach J.J. Wade knows it has been a challenging season for the Clovers. 

Illness and injuries have hurt Cloverdale all year and forced the squad to cancel the two quarters of JV Cloverdale was playing each night. 

Despite the hurdles, Wade admits he has seen his team improve as the season progressed ahead of the upcoming sectional tournament at South Putnam.

"The girls have continued to work hard and get better. That was our goal for the season -- to work hard and get better each night out for who we are playing for, our school and community. For the most part, we have done that," Wade told The Putnam County Post. 

Leading the way for the Clovers has been Emily Mann, who Wade said has been a "consistent leader and player."

"She is strong and physical and really understands the game.  She has been a coach on and off the court the entire year.  Although I am sure this is not how she intended her senior season to go, she has been a leader, a teacher, and a calming force for our team.  She has worked hard to be where she is physically and fundamentally and all the girls in the program would do well to imitate her," Wade said.

Another player he singled out is Millie Haga, who has been Cloverdale's primary ball handler this winter. 

"She can get to the basket and has done a good job facilitating.  The only regret with her is having her just one year.  Sarah Nichols is probably our most improved player from last year.  Improved with her hands, her shooting, as a vocal leader as a sophomore, and her approach to getting better.  It has been nice to see her grow," Wade said. 

Cloverdale will bring a nine game losing streak into the sectional, where they drew sectional favorite, Parke Heritage. The Wolves knocked off the Clovers, 64-22 on Jan. 16. 

"The Sectional in Indiana is a special time of the year.  Everyone is 0-0 and each game will result in someone's season being over.  It is what teams are working for throughout the season...all the in game and practice scenarios point towards competing for the Sectional Championship.  We certainly have a tough draw with the Sectional favorite, Parke Heritage Wolves.  They are a great team that can hurt you a lot of different ways both on the defensive and offensive end.  We are excited about the opportunity to continue to work and prepare for our Wednesday night match-up," Wade said.

Lady Tiger Cubs look to repeat as sectional champs

The Greencastle girl's basketball team is no stranger to winning a sectional title, having completed the feat last year. 
However, this year's installment of the Tiger Cubs features a different look, new names and a new coach who are looking to push Greencastle deep into the postseason and repeat last year's magical run that ended in the Class 2A semi-state. 

After opening the season 0-5 under first year head coach Jessica Lenihan, Greencastle captured the Putnam County title and will bring a 10-13 record into the sectional opener Tuesday against North Putnam in the South Putnam Sectional. 
According to Lenihan, the season has gone really well. 

"I really impressed with how hard these girls work every day in practice and in games. The improvement from the beginning of the year to now is really great to see," Lenihan told The Putnam County Post. 

Leading the way has been Evelyn Briones and Ali Dobbs, both of whom set the tone defensively and offensively for the Tiger Cubs. 

"They also have been playing really well on offense; their shots are looking really smooth and they are shooting with confidence. Madi Plew, Bailey Brown, and Aleeyah Johnson have been stepping up as well, getting a ton of rebounds. Bailey is a strong player under the basket for us, which helps a lot! Sarah Simmerman has been coming off the bench and putting in positive minutes. She is one of our talented freshmen and she gets on the court and plays with a lot of confidence," Lenihan said. 

The sectional opener is a rematch of a Jan. 12 game that saw North Putnam pick up a 59-47 win over Greencastle. Lenihan admits her team is "really excited about the draw." 

"The girls are wanting to play them again to redeem themselves. My girls are very competitive and ready to fight to win this first game of sectional," Lenihan said. 

As for what will be the keys for Greencastle to emerge with a win, Lenihan said it is simple. 

"We have to play our game and make sure we are taking the right shot and not forcing anything. We plan to focus and play as a team to be able to cut down those nets," Lenihan said. 

In the first meeting between the two teams, Lenihan said North Putnam disrupted Greencastle's flow, forcing the Tiger Cubs into playing rushed, taking bad shots and not protecting the basketball. 

"We also have to rebound better and be strong with the ball when we get it. I will give North Putnam a lot of credit, they wanted it more than we did in our first matchup but I think our girls are happy they get a chance to redeem themselves in this rematch," Lenihan said. 

North Putnam eyes sectional run

While the record may not be what Curtis Lawrence hoped, and his North Putnam girl's basketball team has seen an up and down season, all attention now turns to a sectional title run. 

At 8-13 heading into the regular season finale against Owen Valley Thursday, the Lady Cougars find themselves in the midst of a three game losing streak that came on the heels of a three game winning streak. 

"We have had contributions from several girls, who have all played well at times this season. Lexi Daigle has been our most consistent player, but every game someone else steps up and performs well for us," Lawrence told The Putnam County Post. 

North Putnam drew a very familiar foe in the South Putnam Sectional, as they will open the tournament Tuesday against Greencastle. The Lady Cougars picked up a 59-47 win over Greencastle on Jan. 12. 

"I think the sectional draw was good for both us and Greencastle.  I believe we are two evenly matched teams.  For us to cut down the nets, we have to be able to take care of the ball and limit our turnovers.  We also need to be consistent with our shooting from game to game," Lawrence said. 

While he has the win over the Tiger Cubs under his belt, Lawrence notes the sectional opener will feature a game between two evenly matched teams. 

"Coach Lenihan has done a wonderful job with her squad.  When we played them a couple of weeks ago, we were fortunate to come out on top.  They have good guard play with Evie Briones and Ali Dobbs.  Bailey Brown does a nice job on the boards for them, and Madi Plew can be a threat from the outside.  In order for us to defeat them, we have to contain their shooters and keep Brown off the boards.  If we can do this, along with shoot the ball well and take care of the ball, we will put ourselves in a position to be victorious," Lawrence admitted. 

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton named to 2024 USA Men's National Team player pool

USA Basketball announced that Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton is among the 41-athlete player pool for the 2024 USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

The players were selected by USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director Grant Hill and is subject to change.
The 12-member 2024 USA Men’s National Team, which will represent the United States at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games in Paris, will be announced at a later date.
In addition to Haliburton, the pool features 28 players who have represented the USA in Olympics and/or FIBA Men’s World Cup and who together have collected 23 Olympic or World Cup gold medals: Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen, Paolo Banchero, Desmond Bane, Scottie Barnes, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jaylen Brown, Jalen Brunson, Jimmy Butler, Alex Caruso, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, Joel Embiid, De’Aaron Fox, Paul George, Aaron Gordon, James Harden, Josh Hart, Tyler Herro, Jrue Holiday, Chet Holmgren, Brandon Ingram, Kyrie Irving, Jaren Jackson Jr., LeBron James, Cam Johnson, Walker Kessler, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Bobby Portis, Austin Reaves, Duncan Robinson, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White and Trae Young.
The 2024 USA Men’s National Team will be led by head coach Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), who is assisted by Mark Few (Gonzaga University), Tyronn Lue (L.A. Clippers) and Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat). Last summer, the quartet coached the 2023 USA Basketball Men’s National Team to a fourth-place finish at the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup in Manila. Kerr is a 2020 Olympic gold medalist after serving as an assistant coach to Gregg Popovich in Tokyo.
The USA officially qualified for the 2024 Olympics as one of the top two nations from the FIBA Americas zone at the 2023 FIBA World Cup in September. The American men will compete for their fifth straight – and 17th overall – Olympic gold medal.




Sectional brackets set for girls basketball postseason

It is the most wonderful time of the year as all four Putnam County high school girl's basketball teams are ready to turn their attention to a Class 2A Sectional 44 title. 
A season ago, Greencastle stormed through the sectional, capturing not only that but also a regional crown before falling to eventual Class 2A state champion Forest Park, 65-48, in the semi-state. 

This year's sectional tournament, which will be held at South Putnam High School, will see a pair of familiar foes matching up in the opening game of the tournament on Jan. 30, as Greencastle (9-12) takes on North Putnam (8-12). The winner will play Riverton Parke. 

Greencastle and North Putnam met recently, with the Cougars picking up a 59-47 win over the Tiger Cubs. Greencastle and Riverton Parke have not played this season, while North Putnam picked up a 54-24 win over Riverton Parke in the Hoosier Heartland Tip-Off Classic in November. 

Cloverdale (2-19) opens against sectional favorite Parke Heritage (19-3) on Jan. 31, followed by South Putnam (12-9) taking on Southmont (12-7). 
Parke Heritage, who has won 13 straight, knocked off Cloverdale, 64-22, earlier this month and owns wins over both South Putnam and Southmont. 
South Putnam knocked off Southmont, 49-41, in November. 

Girls Basketball State Tournament Pairings Show to air on GIANT fm

The Indiana High School Athletic Association will air the 49th Annual Girls Basketball State Tournament Pairings Show Sunday.

The pairings show will set the pairings for girls basketball sectionals in all four IHSAA classes.

Bob Lovell and Greg Rakestraw will host the show that will air exclusively on beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The show also can be heard on the affiliates of the IHSAA Champions Network which includes GIANT fm (94.3 fm or the GIANT fm app) in Greencastle.

Class 2A, Sectional 44

Girls basketball programs from Greencastle, North Putnam and Cloverdale travel to South Putnam for a 7-team sectional that includes a top-15 ranked program.

Class 2A, No. 11 Parke Heritage is 18-3 overall and 6-0 against potential Sectional 44 opponents this season.

The host school, South Putnam (12-8), has the second most wins in the sectional with 12. The Eagles are 6-2 against potential sectional opponents.

Southmont (10-7) also has double-digit wins ahead of the sectional draw.

Completing the field are Greencastle (9-12), North Putnam (8-11), Riverton Parke (5-14) and Cloverdale (2-18).

Pacers add 2-time All-NBA player Pascal Siakam

The Indiana Pacers announced on Wednesday the team has acquired forward Pascal Siakam from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for guards Bruce Brown, Jr. and Kira Lewis, Jr., forward Jordan Nwora, two first-round picks in 2024, and a conditional first-round pick in 2026.

Siakam, 29, has spent all eight seasons of his career in Toronto.  He's averaging 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists.
“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Pascal to Indiana,” said President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “As a two-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA All Star, Pascal is a player that our organization has long admired and respected. We feel that his unique offensive skillset will complement our style of play, while his defensive versatility will be a valuable asset to our team.”
Siakam will wear number 43 for the Pacers.

Basketball official Casey Gaynor has worked in every Indiana high school gymnasium

Asking Casey Gaynor for a detailed list of the Indiana high schools where he’s officiated at least one varsity basketball game isn’t advisable.

That is, unless one has serious free time on his or her hands.

Requesting that Gaynor either alphabetize those schools, name them in order of games worked, or, worse, break the list down geographically, and you might as well bring a pillow, prop up your feet and get cozy.

It’s going to take a while.

The 57-year-old Gaynor, a Plainfield resident who grew up on Indianapolis’ Westside, accomplished his profession’s version of hitting for the cycle when he worked the boys game between Indianapolis Tech and host Herron on January 2.

Competitively speaking, well, let’s just say the Titans rolled to an 83-22 victory.


Casey Gaynor photo 4

Casey Gaynor has officiated basketball at 404 different IHSAA member schools (Photo provided by Landon Ringler).

Historically, however, the four quarters of action proved significant as Gaynor running the Herron court represented the 404th different high school Gaynor has been to officiate either a girls or boys during the course of his 26-year career.

For those counting at home, that’s everywhere, meaning Gaynor knows his Oregon-Davis from his Jac-Cen-Del. His South Bend Clay from his Clay City. His Boone Grove from his Center Grove.

You get the idea.

Gaynor’s start to whistling personal fouls, traveling violations and the like, while somewhat unorthodox, lit the fuse to what’s been an impressive career.

“I referred bitty ball with a buddy in college for beer money,” said Gaynor. “I also played in adult leagues when I was in my 20s. In my Cardinal Ritter alumni league, I was always the guy complaining about the officiating. Bill Nester ran the league.

“After a particularly grueling loss, I went nuts on the two refs. Bill stepped in and told me, ‘Since you’re always complaining about the reffing, I’m putting you down to ref next year.’ I was so mad that I said, ‘Fine.’ The following year started my career. I found that I loved it.”

So much, in fact, that Gaynor eventually began piecing together his own type of game plan regarding officiating as his career evolved: Get your plays right, manage the personalities in a game, study tape and be open to being told that you’re wrong.

Certainly, an official who over the years has made the drive to as many cities and small towns as Gaynor must have his favorite gymnasiums to work. And some that, shall we say find themselves much further down on the list.

He’ll happily share the former.

“New Castle (Chrysler Fieldhouse) and Connersville (Spartan Bowl) because those are the mecca of high school gyms,” said Gaynor, who also mentions Washington Catholic, Tyson Auditorium in Versailles – where the legendary 1953-1954 Milan squad played its home games – and the since-closed Anderson Wigwam.


Casey Gaynor photo 3

Casey Gaynor, a Plainfield resident, has been a licensed IHSAA official for 26 years (Photo provided by Landon Ringler).

Gaynor’s time exhaling into whistles, explaining calls to coaches (and their assistants, in many cases) and just flat-out immersing himself into this state’s prep sports scene includes officiating 22 boys basketball and five girls basketball sectionals.

Moreover, he’s been on the court for 17 boys regionals and three more on the girls side, and one boys hoops semi-state. Gaynor has worked 14 seasons as a high school baseball umpire in Indiana, and officiated volleyball for five.

One of Gaynor’s favorite officials to work games with is Lance Ringler, 53, who lives in Ellettsville, and has been at it since the age of 19. Ringler has officiated games in five other states (California, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, and Washington) with a variety of other officials.

He places Gaynor in his own category.

“With Casey, I would say we’ve worked close to 30 games this season, and we’re probably over 100 games over the last seven years or so. Mostly boys games,” said Ringler. “Working with Casey . . . I’ve learned a lot from him. The thing about Casey is he’s all business.

“When we go on the road, we have a lot of fun, but every ‘I’ is dotted and every ‘T’ is crossed. He’s there to do his job, and he’s made me a much better official because of his approach. You better bring your ‘A’ game, or he’s going to let you know about it. His focus for the whole basketball game, he’s always on.”

Gaynor has no precise timetable regarding when he’ll hang up his black- and white-striped official’s shirt. Still healthy and enjoying the weekly interaction he has with players, coaches, administrators – and, yes, even fans – Gaynor plans to finish out this basketball season and looks forward to those ahead.

“I want to make 30 years, then see how my body feels,” said Gaynor. “My first licensed high school year was the 1998-1999 season. I’ve seen too many guys who are hanging on way too long. I promise, I won’t be that guy.”

Cloverdale boy's hoops looks for consistency

While the record may not be where Cloverdale boy's basketball coach Karl Turk would want at 1-9, he has seen growth this season from the Clovers. 

"The 2023 portion of this season was trying. As a team, we only registered one win as far as our record is concerned, which doesn't attest to the multiple areas in which we have improved and have experienced growth," Turk told The Putnam County Post. 

Of the nine losses, three have come by a combined 10 points. 

"We anticipated the early portion of the season would be difficult, as we were acclimating six new varsity players into the roster; four of which did not play at all last season and the other two were predominantly junior varsity players," Turk said. 

Turk said as of late, there has been "marked growth across the board." 

"Trey Schabel is emerging as a lead guard, making tremendous strides as a freshman. Over Christmas break he registered three starts and was able to score in double figures. Levi Johnson has also come on as of late. He has been hampered by a hand injury suffered during football season; yet over the break was able to score 17 points vs Greencastle," Turk said. 

While he admits he did not anticipate having only one win at this point in the season, Turk said he could see themes that can be expected when putting a relatively new team on the floor, especially when it comes to mental lapses and closing out games. 

"We have been in some close games in which inexperience has been a factor as well as unfortunate injuries. We are optimistic that through the 2023 portion of the schedule we have gained the needed experience and certainly are hoping for greater health during the new year," Turk said. 

The Clovers open the 2024 portion of the season Friday when they roll out the red carpet for Owen Valley, who is 3-6. 

And, when they do so, they will have a focus on consistency, according to Turk. 

"At the root of consistency, we feel a noted need to improve our mental focus. Physical exertion typically is not the issue when things don't go our way; instead it is a loss of mental focus spurred on by adversity (injury, the other team's play, etc). The game of basketball is one of runs and often one run determines the victor in a game. We are looking to stay focused to a greater extent in order to produce more of those game changing runs ourselves; and mitigate those produced by our opposition," Turk said. 

Indiana State names new athletic director

Indiana State University has announced Angie Lansing as the Interim Director of Sycamore Athletics.

A seasoned collegiate athletics administrator and member of ISU's Athletics Hall of Fame, Lansing brings 17 years of experience within Indiana State's Athletics Department. She currently serves as the Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator.
"Indiana State University is very fortunate to have an administrator of Angie's caliber on staff who can fill this important role. Indiana State has the utmost confidence and given her experience and vision for the Sycamores; she is the ideal candidate for this position. At this time, the University's priority is to continue to elevate the tremendous work being done by our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and staff in Sycamore Athletics," said Dr. Deborah Curtis, President of Indiana State University.
 Lansing previously served as Interim Director of Athletics in 2016. In her current role, Lansing oversees Indiana State's women's basketball, women's soccer, women's golf, volleyball, track and field, and cross country. She is actively involved with various Missouri Valley Conference committees, including Conference Relations and Finance, and as the sport liaison for track and field and cross-country coaches. Additionally, within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), she held the position of NCAA Division I Track & Field and Cross-Country Sport Committee Chair for three years of a four-year term.
"It's a privilege to serve as Indiana State University's Interim Director of Athletics. Sycamore Athletics has a rich history that I will continue to uphold. Our staff works hard every day to support our student-athletes and coaches. I plan to maintain the momentum of our competitive seasons," expressed Lansing. "I look forward to working with the University community and the Terre Haute community as we continue to support our student-athletes and athletic programs."
 Lansing's connection to Indiana State is deeply rooted, having been a former track and field and cross-country athlete and an alumna, earning her degree in accounting in 1998. During her four years as a student-athlete, Lansing achieved numerous accolades, including four consecutive years of earning All-Conference honors, Academic All-American recognition, and holding the titles of ISU Indoor Mile Record Holder and outdoor 1500m record holder.

ISU announced Tuesday that Sherard Clinkscales had stepped down as Director of Athletics “has decided to step down from his role to pursue other opportunities.”

His departure was effective December 31.

Clinkscales' contract had been extended through June 2025.


New edition of Hoosier Basketball Magazine available for purchase

The 2023-24 issue of Hoosier Basketball Magazine is available to be ordered by mail.

Hoosier Basketball Magazine offers a comprehensive survey of all high school (boys and girls), college (men and women) and professional (Pacers and Fever) basketball in Indiana.

Twelve high school seniors are featured on Hoosier Basketball Magazine’s traditional front cover, six boys and six girls. The boys pictured are Jack Benter (Brownstown Central), Flory Bidunga (Kokomo), Micah Davis (Franklin), Evan Haywood (Brebeuf Jesuit), Ron Rutland (Indianapolis Attucks) and K.J. Windham (Ben Davis). The featured girls are Alli Harness (Carroll-Flora), Jordyn Poole (Fort Wayne Snider), Chloe Spreen (Bedford North Lawrence), Reagan Wilson (Noblesville), Faith Wiseman (Indian Creek) and Juliann Woodard (Jennings County).

Hoosier Basketball Magazine also has produced a featured “Champions Cover” edition. Spotlighted on the front of the Champions Cover are six senior players – two 2023 Class 4A state champions (Spreen and Windham), a semistate champion (Bidunga) and three regional champions from last season (Benter, Poole and Wiseman).

The design of the special edition cover is a throwback to the 1975-76 issue that featured actions photos on the cover.

There are five college players that appear on the traditional cover including Markus Burton (Notre Dame), Zach Edey (Purdue), Trey Galloway (Indiana), Ella Collier (Marian) and Mackenzie Holmes (Indiana) along with Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers).

Both Edey and Holmes are part of the Champions Cover based on Big Ten titles won by Purdue men and Indiana women from the 2022-23 season. Edey is a replica of the 1979-80 Joe Barry Carroll cover, while Holmes recognizes the 1977-78 cover that pictured No. 54 Kent Benson.

There are three high school seniors that appear with action pictures on the table of contents page. They are Lauren Foster (Indian Creek), Kennedy Fuelling (Norwell) and Jaedin Reyna (Hammond Noll).

The 2023-24 edition can be ordered by mail now by emailing or call or text 317-925-8200.

Lady Eagles look to continue strong season in new year

The first part of the high school girls' basketball season was a remarkable one for the South Putnam basketball team and head coach Brian Gardner.
South Putnam closed out the month of December with a 9-6 record, ownership of the Putnam County Girls' Basketball County Tournament title and are looking to continue its winning ways in 2024. 

"We have had several players play well as we have been very balanced this year," head coach Brian Gardner told The Putnam County Post. 

Leading the way for the Eagles is Chlara Pistelli, who is averaging just over 12 points a game. Danae Cline and Drew Gardner are both averaging 7 points, while Madison Gardner and Lyla Rissler are both averaging close to 6 points a contest. 

With the team over .500, Gardner admits the Lady Eagles are close to where he thought his team would be at this point in the season. 

"I felt like Christmas break came at a good time for us in getting some rest mentally and physically as most of the girls are volleyball and basketball players and have not gotten much time off since July. We have had to rely a lot on three freshmen and I feel like Drew Gardner, Lyla Rissler and Mia Wells have given us great minutes this year for being new to varsity basketball," Gardner said. 

With the second half of the season upon South Putnam, Gardner said the focus is simple.

"We will be focusing on the new year of getting fine tuned to finish the year off playing the best basketball we can play. Things are not new any more so it is about making things as comfortable as possible so that when we are playing it is natural and that the girls are not thinking, just playing," Gardner said. 

South Putnam looks to keep momentum going in new year

After opening the season 0-4, South Putnam boy's basketball coach Josh Estridge has watched his team win four of its last six games, including two games in the Monrovia Holiday Tournament to leave with the title. Against Monrovia, South Putnam got 24 points from both Drew Hill and Cameron Bozell. Wyatt Mullin, who Estridge said has been one of the team's best defenders, scored 11, while Parker Harris chipped in with six. 

"We shot the ball really well against Monrovia and only had four turnovers. Those are two areas that we continue to work on," the first year head coach told The Putnam County Post. 

In addition to beating host Monrovia, the Eagles knocked off Eastern Green in the tournament, and Estridge is hopeful the momentum will continue in the new year. 

"As a whole, our team keeps improving every single day. Against Eastern Greene, Isaac Garner had his best game of the season with 10 points off the bench. Blake Witt also chipped in 8 points. Khalil Jefferson had two huge free throws down the stretch versus Eastern Greene. Drew Cline continues to be one of our best defenders," Estridge said. 

At this point in the season, Estridge admits the Eagles are where he thought they would be. 

"The attitude and effort of our players has been a huge reason for us continuing to grow and improve. We don’t win the Monrovia Holiday Tournament without our team having a let’s get better every single day mentality. I’m not surprised with this team. Our staff from day one knew we had the ability to be a good team that could compete with anyone," Estridge said. 

Now, with 2024 underway and the Eagles set to return to the court Jan. 5 against Sullivan, Estridge said his team must continue to play with a chip on its shoulder and a desire to improve. 

"If we do that, we will continue to compete in every game and we will have a successful 2024," Estridge said. 

North Putnam girls' basketball aims for growth, improvement

With a very tough December in the rear view mirror for the North Putnam girls' basketball team, Curtis Lawrence's team finds himself at 5-10 heading into January. 

"December is a very tough month for us schedule wise. We play the top four teams in the conference and a really good Parke Heritage team," Lawrence told The Putnam County Post. 

Leading the way offensively for the Cougars has been Lexi Daigle, who is averaging 11.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Also playing well is Jasmine Duvall, who is averaging 8.4 points, and Melanie Davies, who is averaging 5.5 points. 

"I don't like to single any one player out. All of the girls have performed well throughout the season," Lawrence said. 

With the record what it is and North Putnam in the midst of a six game skid, 

Lawrence admits he is surprised with where his team is currently at. 

"We are not quite where I thought we would be. We have had a few games that we should have won. We just need to shoot the ball more consistently and have better execution offensively and defensively," Lawrence said. 

North Putnam will kick off the 2024 portion of its schedule against West Vigo on Jan. 5 and will hit the road for a date with North Montgomery one night later. 

"Our focus continues to be the same -- to grow and improve as a team and be competitive. If we can do those things, we will be ready when sectional comes around," Lawrence said. 

Cloverdale Lady Clovers aim for improvement

At 2-13 and a huge January on the horizon, the Cloverdale girls' basketball team is looking for victories when they return to the hardwood under head coach J.J. Wade. 

"The season has had its ups and downs just like any season. We have, unfortunately, not gotten back the depth we were hoping for due to injuries early in the season and those athletes will not be returning to compete this season for us," Wade told The Putnam County Post. 

With that said, Wade admits he has gotten strong play from the players who have showed up and are healthy thus far. 

"The young girls that have come in to replace them have worked hard and are getting better. The experience they have gotten due to being forced into the fire will help us as we progress through the last part of the season and look into the tournament," Wade said. 

Wade singled out the play of seniors Millie Haga and Emily Mann, as well as sophomore Sarah Nichols as players who have carried the load for Cloverdale. 

"Millie Haga and Emily Mann continue to work hard and play well for us most nights and Sarah Nichols has really worked hard and has had a great run the last three to four games for us," Wade said. 

After opening the season 0-11, Cloverdale has won two of the last four times out. Of the losses, three have been by 16 points or less for the Clovers, who are averaging 31 points and surrendering 48 points per contest. 
According to Wade, the Clovers are where he thought they would be at this point.

"I am not surprised with where we are at this point. We have gotten better, with better pace in some aspects than others, but we have gotten better with a 
young and inexperienced team," Wade said. 

And, despite the record, he maintains he has seen a lot of positives. 

"We don't have the wins we wish we had but, sometimes, progress isn't measured that way. We have lost close games due to rebounding disadvantage, too many turnovers or too many missed free throws, all of which we have improved on as the season has progressed. We look forward to continuing to work through the process and improve heading into the tournament," Wade said. 





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