Both Southmont and North Putnam are much different teams then when they met back on Nov. 27 during the first week of the season.
That was a 66-56 win for the Cougars, who now have a full season under their belt with a new coach and star player, while Southmont, a team that entered the season with a lot of inexperienced varsity players is playing at a much higher level.
The Mounties are 7-14 on the season, and coach Jake Turner is still searching for consistent effort.
“I think like I’ve said throughout the year, the big thing with us is being consistent,” he said. “Consistent focus, consistent effort. We have a bad habit of having long stretches where we turn the ball over or we take bad shots and when you’re not scoring it tends to have an effect on your defense.”
Austin Bowman leads the Mounties with 11.1 points per game, while Logan Oppy adds 10.3, Avery Saunders chips in 9.3, and Carson Chadd adds 8.2 points a night.
North Putnam has been up and down throughout the season, finishing the regular season 11-12, and losers of three straight. They are led by junior Mason Brooks’ 21.5 points per game, while sophomore Aaron Pickel adds 12.1.
“I think it is easier from a motivational standpoint when you’ve lost the first game,” Turner said of playing a familiar opponent.
The Mounties and Cougars played pretty even in the first meeting with the exception of the third quarter when North Putnam hit nine 3-pointers, and scored 31 points.
“I want to put them in a position to be successful,” Turner said of the scouting report. “I don’t want to leave any stone unturned in terms of watching film and showing them stuff.”
Turner says if the Mounties want to compete for their first sectional title since 1994, and only the second in school history, it will come down to defense.
“I think we have a pretty athletic team and relatively a pretty long team,” he said. “We should be a good defensive team, but we have to get better in that regard.”
Southmont allows just 58.6 points per game, but only scores 51 a night, while the Cougars average 61 and gives up 58.3.
The Mounties and Cougars will play at 7 p.m. at Southmont on Tuesday night, with Cascade (8-14) waiting in the first semifinal on Friday. On the other side of the bracket, South Putnam (5-18) plays Riverton Parke (11-12) on Wednesday night at 6, while Parke Heritage (20-3) faces Cloverdale (9-14) at 7:30 p.m.
Southmont is 0-4 against the sectional field, including a recent 62-45 loss to Parke Heritage.