KEWANEE — Putnam County and Bureau Valley both started the 2012-13 boys basketball campaign with a bang Monday with lopsided running-clock wins at Wethersfield’s Wally Keller Invitational.
In the opener, the top-seeded Panthers pounced on Midland early en route to a 67-35 win. The second-seeded Storm had similar results against Annawan as they picked up a 68-35 victory in coach Jason Marquis’s debut.
Putnam County returns to action at 5:30 tonight against No. 5-seeded Annawan, while Bureau Valley will play the 8:30 p.m. nightcap contest against No. 3-seeded Wethersfield, which beat Elmwood 59-46 in Monday’s third game.
Putnam County 67, Midland 35
The Panthers came out fired up with full-court pressure and a trapping 1-2-2 zone and the result was domination early as they raced out to an 18-3 lead by virtue of forcing 11 turnovers in the first quarter.
PC extended its advantage to 33-13 at intermission and made things academic with a 12-0 run capped off by a Harold Fay 3-pointer to start the second half.
“We really played well defensively, and really if we wouldn’t have missed some layups in the first two minutes, we would have been up even more,” said PC coach Josh Nauman, whose squad connected on 7-of-20 field goals in the opening quarter. “We came out playing really well defensively. We missed some shots we should make, but once we calmed down we played pretty well. I think some of that was first-game jitters.”
Fay led the way for PC (1-0) with 16 points, while Jacob Theobald added 11 off the bench for the Panthers, who had 12 players score.
“We did it without Cody (Veronda) scoring much. He had six points and he’s going to average about triple that probably. So for us to come out, put up that many points and win that easily without Cody really getting involved offensively, that’s great. Everybody stepped up and did a good job,” Nauman said.
Bureau Valley 68, Annawan 35
The Storm made Marquis’s coaching debut a memorable one as they clamped down with tough man-to-man defense to force 22 turnovers in a rout of the Braves.
“I just love how hard the kids play,” said Marquis, whose squad led 15-10 after the first quarter and 34-21 at intermission before blowing things wide open in the second half. “They buy in and they play hard. It makes coaching a lot of fun and really easy.”
Sophomores Parker Neuhalfen and Tommy Johnston led the way offensively for the Storm with 18 points apiece. Neuhalfen connected on a perfect 4-of-4 on 3-pointer attempts, while Johnston added a team-best eight rebounds.
“Those two, the kids respect them because they work hard. They don’t care whether they score 18 or whether they score two — as long as we get a win they’re happy and that’s what team is all about. They both played nice. They both played hard in their first varsity game of the year,” Marquis said.
Michael Smith led the Braves with 12 points.
n Notes: Putnam County started the fourth quarter with a 30-point lead to invoke a mercy-rule running clock for the final period, while the Storm started the slaughter rule clock with 4:27 to go in the final frame.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.