CULVER — Culver Girls Academy leading scorer Andrijana Cvitkovic recorded just a single solitary basket in the opening nine minutes Wednesday.
The rest of the contest told an entirely different tale.
The 6-foot-3 senior post scored 22 of her game-high 24 points over the final three quarters, and also grabbed six rebounds, swatted four shots, and swiped three steals to lead the Eagles to a 54-43 girls basketball win over cross-town rival Culver Community at John R. Nelson Gymnasium.
“I think (Cvitkovic) was at ease tonight,” CGA head coach Gary Christlieb said. “For probably the first time this year she did a great job of letting the game come to her. She picked spots, picked shots and set other people up. The rest of the kids did a nice job finding her and running the offense through her. Maybe we’re starting to figure some things out.”
Cvitkovic worked the high and low post, moved well without the ball, screened, and also showcased her ample passing skills. Her bucket right before halftime put CGA up 25-23, a lead it never relinquished.
“(Cvitkovic) is a good player,” Culver head coach Gina Hierlmeier said. “We talked about how we had to stop her and try to stay in front of her. In the first half we did a pretty good job, but in the second half we lost her a few times, and she was able to do some things in transition.
“We missed shots; some of those are shots we’ve struggled to get to fall all year,” she added. “Other times we’d drive and we adjusted the shot versus going up strong, because (Cvitkovic) was there.”
Junior Alle Baker contributed 12 points off the bench for the Eagles, and junior Victoria Christlieb piled up 10 points — all during the third frame — to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Rita Zambon dished out five assists for CGA, which finished 24 of 49 from the field.
“(Culver) had some foul problems,” the CGA skipper said. “We were able to take advantage and go inside to Victoria and Andi, and Andi set up Victoria for some inside plays. Alle Baker came off the bench and gave us a huge lift. I think our depth was a factor in the game. We came at them and were able to keep coming at them.”
Leading 25-23 at halftime, the Eagles put together a crucial 12-2 spurt to start the third quarter, grabbing a 37-25 lead on a Victoria Christlieb jumper at the 3:12 mark. CGA’s half-court zone trap forced seven third-quarter turnovers leading to 12 points — 10 during the game-changing run that handed the Eagles a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“Anytime you can score off your defense you can be pretty effective,” Christlieb said. “We were able to get some turnovers and turn them into baskets. The third quarter was pretty big — 19-8 for us.
“I think in the second quarter we got a feel for (Culver’s) defense,” he added. “To their credit they hit shots early, and we didn’t quite execute in the first half. The third quarter we put it together on both ends of the floor.”
For the Cavs, sophomore forward Donna Zehner notched a team-high 12 points and eight rebounds followed by 10 points apiece from Kayla Shaffer and Tatum Schultz. Sophomore center Mickella Hardy pulled down nine boards for Culver, which led much of the first half.
However, the Cavs turned the ball over 24 times and finished just 33 percent from the field.
“In the third quarter we had some turnovers, but we also missed decent shots,” Hierlmeier said. “They were hitting shots and taking care of the ball; we were just the opposite, and we fell behind pretty quick. That third quarter was a big game changer.
“We’ve talked about moving the basketball quicker,” she continued. “We have a tendency to dribble too much which leads to turnovers. I thought we started moving the ball better against their zone. We’d penetrate and get good shots, we just couldn’t hit them.”
Both teams return to action Saturday; CGA hosts South Bend Riley, while Culver entertains Knox.
• CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY 54,
CULVER COMMUNITY 43
Score by quarters
CGA: 10 25 44 54
Culver: 14 23 31 43
CGA (54): Victoria Christlieb 5 0-1 10, Alle Baker 6 0-0 12, Andrijana Cvitkovic 9 5-5 24, Melissa Binford 0 0-0 0, Grace Holzer 0 0-0 0, Saralena Berry 1 0-0 2, Helen Weinberg 1 0-0 2, Rita Zambon 2 0-0 4, Jamie Madison 0 0-0 0; Totals: 24 5-6 54.
CULVER (43): Shakkira Harris 0 0-0 0, Ali Overmyer 0 0-0 0, Angela Lewellen 2 1-1 5, Tatum Schultz 2 4-6 10, Mickella Hardy 2 2-2 6, Donna Zehner 5 2-3 12, Kayla Shaffer 5 0-1 10; Totals: 16 9-13 43.
3-pointers: CGA 1 (Cvitkovic), Culver 2 (Schultz); Turnovers: CGA 18, Culver 24; Rebounds: CGA 25 (Christlieb 10), Culver 35 (Hardy 9); Assists: CGA 16 (Zambon 5), Culver 7 (Schultz 3); Steals: CGA 11 (Christlieb 4), Culver 5; Fouls (fouled out): CGA 16 (none), Culver 11 (none).
Records: CGA 6-2, Culver 6-3.