CULVER — Coming off a somewhat lackluster loss to John Glenn in the Bi-County Tournament last Friday, the Cavaliers bounced back strong Wednesday.
Culver’s offense shared the load with four players in or near double figures, and the Cavs tied a season-high with 18 assists to finish with 54 percent accuracy from the floor in a 63-44 win over Oregon-Davis on their home floor at John R. Nelson Gymnasium.
“I thought our kids shared the ball very well tonight and were trying to find that open teammate,” said Culver head coach Kyle Elliott. “When we’ve had success… we’ve had anywhere from 10 assists and up; we’ve had as many as 18 assists on a given night.
“They were making the right decisions for the most part.”
Point guard Collin Stevens put up a team-best 14 points with five assists and four steals, and fellow senior Micah Budzinski dropped a double-double of 10 points with 11 rebounds. Freshman Everett Krueger tallied 11 points in the varsity start — nine in the fourth quarter alone — while junior Trent Elliott finished with nine points highlighted by a pair of dunks, including a first frame-ending stuff on a backdoor lob from Kyle Vlach that put the home team up by double digits at the quarter break at 14-4, and OD was only able to chip the lead back to single digits twice briefly in the second period.
Vlach contributed six points with a game-high seven assists, Jordan Sanders chipped in another six points with three steals, first-year senior Bradley Beaver scored three points, and nine different Cavaliers made their way onto the scoresheet as Culver went to its bench early and often in the win.
“It’s nice to get Bradley Beaver and some of those kids some quality minutes. He does an outstanding job in practice of working hard every day and helping prepare his teammates and takes great pride in it,” said Elliott.
“We had eight kids running in and out — we’ve had some games with six kids — and then the junior varsity as well got some minutes at the very end there. We’ve got a lot of kids when they hit the floor, regardless of minutes, we’ve got high expectations that they’re going to give us a boost… The kids coming in as we rotated — in many cases two at a time, sometimes three — they’re expected to give us a lift as they come in. They’ve been sitting out for awhile, they’re observing, but when you hit that floor you have to be ready to play. For the most part I thought the kids did a good job of that tonight.”
Defensively, the key to the Cavs’ success lay in their containment of OD guards Zach Johnston and Blake Hurford, both of whom finished below their average with seven points apiece Wednesday.
Their loss was fellow sophomore Carl Schnekenburger’s gain, however, as he put up a game-high 18 points with better than 77 percent accuracy followed by Dalton Taylor’s 12 points, several on breakaways as he notched six steals in the road loss.
“He was 7-of-9 for the game, and I think 18 for Carl is a career-high, so I give the kid a lot of credit,” said OD head coach Matt Crawford. “I think Johnston had a tough night shooting the ball — normally those are good looks for him — and Carl really picked us up on the offensive end.”
“Zach Johnston and Blake Hurford were definitely a focus for our team defensively. You look at who really helps that team be a success, and those two guys have really been playing some good basketball for them of late, and we didn’t expect it to be any different,” Elliott said. “They did a nice job tonight, and I thought they did a nice job of sharing the ball as well, and helping some kids create for they’re offense. They had some other kids step up and did some positive things as well.”
While Culver moves to 10-4 on the season, OD slips to 1-13 two weeks after snapping an 11-game losing streak stretching back to last season against Argos on Jan. 11.
The young Bobcats’ scarcity of wins hasn’t been for any lack of effort, however, and they kept plugging away for four quarters at Culver. Schnekenburger’s traditional three-point play at the 5:36 mark of the third cut OD’s deficit back to 10 after entering halftime trailing by 15, but the visitors never got any closer as they were outmatched by Culver’s superior size, experience and team play.
“You can’t coach height or age. However, our effort’s been extremely good, and it’s not always the size of the dog, it’s whether that dog is willing to battle and give the effort,” said Crawford.
“I’m extremely pleased with our effort. That’s been a constant all year for us. We put that with being able to get a little more consistent on the offensive end, and wins are going to start to come for us.”
The Bobcats may get another shot at Culver when the Cavs host Class A Sectional 51 play beginning in late February.
“The only team that’s not on our schedule that’s in our sectional is Marquette Catholic. We’re playing Westville next weekend. It’s always good to play and see how a team’s going to be on their floor, especially for sectional. This is a good film to have for us,” said Crawford.
“We’re fortunate enough this year to be playing on our floor, and we want to be a contender for a championship,” said Elliott of the sectional tilt. “Any time you can get a sectional opponent and have some success against them, it’s a mindset for your kids heading into tournament play. It’s going to be a tough and very competitive sectional, and we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then to get to where we want to be.”
• CULVER 63,
Score by quarters
OD: 4 16 32 44
Culver: 14 31 46 63
OD (43): Justin Fields 0, Blake Hurford 7, Zach Johnston 7, Matt Minix 0, Carl Schnekenburger 18, Dalton Taylor 12, Joel Worthington 0; Totals: 18 6-14 44.
CULVER (63): Bradley Beaver 3, Micah Budzinski 10, Trent Elliott 9, Alex Graham 0, Everett Krueger 11, Jordan Sanders 6, Tucker Schultz 2, Collin Stevens 14, Kyle Vlach 6, Chris Zehner 2; Totals: 25 10-14 63.
3-pointers: OD 2 (Johnston 1, Hurford 1), Culver 3 (Stevens 2, Elliott 1); Rebounds: OD 17 (Schnekenburger 8), Culver 27 (Budzinski 11); Turnovers: OD 17, Culver 15; Steals: OD 12 (Taylor 6, Hurford 4), Culver 11 (Stevens 4, Sanders 3); Assists: OD 7 (Hurford 3), Culver 18 (Vlach 7, Stevens 5); Fouls (fouled out): OD 11 (none), Culver 14 (none).
Records: Culver 10-4, OD 1-13.
JV score: Culver 41 (Preston Hansel 13, Chris Zehner 10), OD 26 (Justin Fields 11).