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GRANVILLE — Putnam County senior guard Xavier Warren admitted the Panthers were not in the right frame of mind to start Friday’s Tri-County Conference contest against winless Lowpoint-Washburn.
Thankfully for the Panthers, it didn’t take them long to get things straight and roll to a 75-37 victory.
A basket from senior Roberto Longo and back-to-back hoops from sophomore guard Austin Seckler gave L-W a 6-3 lead with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
The early advantage proved to be a wakeup call for the Panthers.
“I have no clue what was going on there, but we started to pick it up. None of us really came in mentally focused until that point,” Warren said. “As soon as we heard their record, no one was really ready to play because we knew we wouldn’t play a lot. So we just went out there and walked through the motions.”
The Panthers ran through the motions after Seckler’s second score as they used tough defensive pressure to force four turnovers with their trademark 1-2-2 zone.
The determined defense coupled with 10-for-16 shooting in the quarter — including 3-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc — helped PC pencil a 22-1 run into the scorebook and erase the slow start.
With a 25-7 lead after the opening stanza, Putnam County coach Josh Nauman turned to his bench early and often with all 16 players in uniform seeing plenty of action in the contest as the Panthers (11-7, 4-1 TCC) led 37-22 at halftime and 54-31 after three quarters.
Warren and the other starters were designated to cheerleader duty after a brief return to start the second half.
“I love watching younger guys get in and get their points. It’s great, because they’re going to be on this stage sooner or later anyways so they’re going to need the experience,” Warren said.
Sophomore R.J. Copeland and freshman Alec Veverka both made their varsity debuts for the Panthers. Veverka finished with nine points and tied for the team-high with five rebounds, while Copeland collected four points.
“We had kids come in and play hard tonight. It was nice to see a couple kids get their first varsity points,” said Nauman, adding Veverka might be getting some more looks in the future after the strong outing.
Senior guard Cody Veronda led the Panthers with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, including 3-for-7 on 3-pointers.
Junior Harold Fay joined him in double digits with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-2 on 3s.
All told, 14 of 16 PC players managed to score in the contest.
Seckler led L-W (0-18, 0-5 TCC). John Spidle grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Note: Putnam County won the sophomore contest 65-22.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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