Cavs hit high note in win over Bremen
CULVER — Ethan Pike had a career night for Bremen, but even his game-high 26 points couldn’t counter Culver’s offensive balance or the Cavs’ free-throw shooting.
Three players scored in double figures for the Cavaliers led by junior point guard Collin Stevens’ 20, and Culver knocked down 14 of 19 charity tosses in the final quarter to hand the Lions a 54-50 Northern State Conference loss in the two teams’ regular season-closer at John R. Nelson Gymnasium Friday.
Bremen and Culver were knotted at 30-all headed into the final frame and the Lions were still within one at 34-33 with 5:30 left to play before a 5-0 mini run on a layup by Jacoda Anderson and traditional 3-point play from fellow sophomore Trent Elliott stretched Culver’s lead to 39-33 with 4:38 remaining. From there, the Cavs poured in 11 of 15 freebies — Elliott finished 9 of 9 from the line and two Bremen players fouled out in the frame — to hold off the visitors for the win at the regular season capper.
“In that stretch in the fourth quarter we started being a little more aggressive with the ball,” said Culver head coach Kyle Elliott. “Trent got it going a little bit more offensively, and we did a pretty good job for the most part tonight getting to the free-throw line. Getting ourselves to the free-throw line we thought was one of the keys before the game. We thought if we could get to the free-throw line at least we were being aggressive with the ball and not just settling for the perimeter shots. I thought our kids competed down inside, and that’s a tough team physically.”
“We got in the fourth quarter, and we just made really, really stupid plays. It’s the same thing that has plagued this team all season long. It’s mental errors, throwing the basketball away and a lack of toughness both mentally and physically,” said Bremen head coach Ryan Eakins. “They did a nice job in the fourth quarter, especially Elliott, knocking down big free throws. It’s tough to win on the road when you’re down late in the fourth quarter.”
Elliott finished with 18 points behind a team-high 20 from Stevens, who buried 4 of 9 3-pointers at the game, while Anderson chipped in 13 points with a game-best 13 rebounds as Culver enjoyed a 31-27 advantage off the glass.
“Collin Stevens, I was very pleased with him. He got in a little foul trouble there, but here as of late he’s been shooting the perimeter shots well,” said Kyle Elliott. “Obviously tonight, four 3s were a huge help. As we continue and head into tournament play, that’s what we need, his consistency on the perimeter, and as of late it’s been there. As we get that it opens it up a little bit more for (Micah) Budzinski and Anderson down inside. That was huge. And Collin’s our best free throw shooter, got there 11 times and hit eight of them tonight, and Trent Elliott was 9 of 9. Those are the two guys that we want the ball in their hands, and credit them tonight, they stepped up and hit some free throws.”
Bremen got most of its scoring from Pike, who tallied a career-high 26 points — a point better than his 25-point outing at Fairfield Feb. 4 — with four 3s, 9-of-16 shooting from the field and a 4-for-5 finish at the stripe. Pike went 5 of 6 from the field in the first half for 15 points before the break, but the junior forward took just one shot and went scoreless in the third before notching another 11 points in the final period.
“Pike scores 15 points in the first half. I don’t even know if he missed a shot. We come out in the third quarter, and he doesn’t get more than one shot,” said Eakins. “So we have to be able to recognize. That’s gamesmanship of being able to play basketball and recognize when guys are on, get them the basketball. But I thought he did a great job tonight, especially on the offensive end.”
Bremen closes out the season at 6-14, including a 1-6 NSC finish, with its fifth straight loss. The Lions play Prairie Heights at the Class 2A Westview Sectional Tuesday.
“It’s frustrating when we play a first half probably as good as we’ve played all year up at Marian on Tuesday night, and we come up and lay an egg mentally tonight,” said Eakins. “We can bark and gripe all we want to about tonight, but the fact is now the season’s over and everyone is 0-0. We’ve got a great opportunity in our opinion. We think we can go up there and do some damage in the sectional. In my opinion five of the six teams could win the thing. We think that we’re in a really nice position to do some damage, but we simply have to show up from a mental standpoint on Tuesday night.”
Culver finishes out the regular season at 11-9, meanwhile, with a 3-4 NSC record. The Cavs drew the bye at the Class A Triton Sectional and will wait to play the winner of Tuesday’s tournament opener between the host Trojans and Oregon-Davis in the early semifinal Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“Heading into tournament play this is a huge win. It gives the kids a little bit of confidence. We’ve got a lot of work to do to win the sectional, but yet we’re not that far. If we come out and shoot the ball the way we’re capable of on Friday night, who knows in that semifinal? With the bye we’ll get a good look at Triton. Obviously it’s a team we know pretty well, and if they play the way they’re capable of they’ll advance to that Friday night match-up. The nice thing is in that bye bracket you do have a little bit of time to focus on who you think you’re going to play. Hopefully we can make some adjustments and turn that around a little bit.”
• CULVER 54,
Score by quarters
Bremen: 12 19 30 50
Culver: 11 18 30 54
BREMEN (50): Austin Huff 5, Ben Hueni 3, T.J. Bayer 7, Jacob Box 7, Ethan Pike 26, Mitch Huppert 2, Tim Zimmer 0, Wes Burkholder 0, Dillon Mullen 0; Totals: 17 10-13 50.
CULVER (54): Kyle Vlach 0, Jordan Sanders 0, Collin Stevens 20, Trent Elliott 18, Johnny Anderson 1, Jacoda Anderson 13, Tucker Schultz 0, Micah Budzinski 2; Totals: 14 21-30 54.
3-pointers: Bremen 6 (Pike 4, Bayer, Box), Culver 5 (Stevens 4, Elliott); Turnovers: Bremen 11, Culver 14; Rebounds: Bremen 27 (Huppert 7), Culver 31 (Ja. Anderson 13); Steals: Bremen 6 (Pike 2, Huff 2), Culver 7 (Ja. Anderson 2); Assists: Bremen 8 (Bayer 2), Culver 14 (Stevens 2, Jo. Anderson 2, Vlach 2); Fouls (fouled out): Bremen 22 (Hueni, Bayer), Culver 14 (none).
Records: Bremen 6-14 (1-6 NSC), Culver 11-9 (3-4 NSC)
JV score: Bremen 38 (Phoenix Ricketts 12), Culver 34 (Jordan Sanders 14)