LAKEVILLE — Culver Community’s girls basketball team just wanted defensive stops against four-time defending Bi-County Tournament champion Oregon-Davis.
Given the Class A No. 4 Lady Cats’ 26-percent mark from the field and Culver’s 23-rebound surplus, mission accomplished.
Class 2A No. 7 Culver withstood foul trouble and a 7-of-19 fourth-quarter showing from the foul line to unseat OD and secure the program’s first Bi-County crown since 1995 in a 50-46 championship round slugfest Saturday at LaVille’s Dale E. Cox Gymnasium.
“We wanted to play our style,” Culver head coach Tony Scheub said. “We wanted to limit (OD) to one shot. This may sound stupid but I didn’t want to get turnovers; I just wanted to get stops and hold them to one shot. It all started on the defensive end.
“We missed the front end of some two-shot fouls, but we hit enough free throws so that we were always able to keep it a two-possession game at the end,” he added. “With all of their 3-point shooters I was worried about a one-possession game. We did just enough to squeak by. I’m really happy for my players.”
Tourney MVP Patrice McBee, a 6-foot-3 senior, battled through foul trouble to finish with 14 points and 15 rebounds for Culver, which starts five seniors and beat OD 50-27 on the boards.
“We’re just really excited,” McBee said of winning the tourney title. “This is our senior year, our only time playing for the championship, and we knew we’d have to beat a hard opponent, which OD is. We’ve played for four years together, and we’ve gotten to where we really trust each other. We played defense hard, and that was the key to winning the game.”
McBee’s rebound bucket with 1:36 left in the game put the Cavs up 47-41 and effectively sealed the outcome. She also scored nine points in the opening stanza as Culver led 20-9 at the first-quarter break and 27-14 with 4:34 to go before halftime.
“A couple of games ago I told Patrice she was playing like a woman now,” Scheub said. “She had been meek and tended to back down. Now she’s asserting herself. When she gets up nobody’s going to get the ball from her; she plays as close to the rim as I’ve seen a girls basketball player.”
Meanwhile, 6-1 senior Gwen Zehner contributed 13 points, 13 caroms and three blocked shots for Culver.
Scheub used both bigs to break the Cats’ swarming full-court press over the top, leading to the early edge.
“I’ve been stubborn with our pressbreaker,” Scheub said. “A couple of games ago I finally decided that I have these two assets – 6-3 and 6-1 – that I might as well use in our pressbreaker. The girls bought into that change. I credit them for executing the pressbreaker.”
The scrappy Cats, though, fired back and ran off 13 straight points, tying the game at 27-all on freshman Ashley Campbell’s 3-pointer with 4:48 left in the third frame, and held Culver scoreless for 8:03.
“It was a game of runs,” OD head coach Terry Minix said. “(Culver) came out and got off to a good start, and we came back and tied them. I’m happy with the girls’ effort.”
Senior point guard Nicole Carnegie finally ended the Cavs’ drought with a tie-breaking free throw at the 3:38 stop in the third quarter. Carnegie, who scored nine points and snared 11 rebounds, tacked on a rebound bucket and a steal and basket to put the Cavs up 34-27 with 47 seconds to go in the third quarter.
“Nicki has been playing great,” Scheub said. “She’s been more aggressive as a scorer, and when we want her to attack, she attacks, and when we want her to set up the offense, she sets up the offense.”
Also for Culver, senior Whitney Sanders added five steals, four assists and a conventional 3-point play to give the Cavs a 40-30 lead with 4:27 left in the game.
OD whittled its deficit to four points twice — the second time on Jesse Averone’s deep 3 at the buzzer — but the Cavs, who went 17 of 36 from the line overall, hit just enough free throws to hold off the Cats.
For OD, Averone knocked down a game-high 19 points and clutched eight rebounds, and Campbell finished with 18 points and five steals before fouling out in the final minute.
However, the Cats’ dribble-penetration oriented offense yielded few positive results against the bigger, physical Cavs.
“The game really didn’t go any differently than we thought it would,” Minix said. “Attacking the basket with no rewards was probably our downfall. We attacked the way we wanted when we wanted, but it didn’t go in.
“We could have stood out there and shot 3s all game, but we’re not good enough to do that,” he added. “That’s one and done when you’re 5-foot tall.”
The two teams square off again Tuesday at Culver in a regular-season bout.
• CULVER COMMUNITY 50,
Score by quarters
Culver: 20 27 35 50
OD: 9 23 29 46
CULVER (50): Nicole Carnegie1 3 3-6 9, Ali Overmyer 0 0-0 0, Suzie Guard 0 0-0 0, Patrice McBee 5 4-5 14, Whitney Sanders 1 4-9 6, Alison Zehner 1 1-5 4, Kayla Shaffer 2 0-0 4, Gwen Zehner 4 5-11 13. TOTALS: 16 17-36 50.
OD (46): Katie Schwenk 1 0-0 2, Ashley Campbell 5 6-8 18, Alicia McIntosh 0 1-2 1, Jesse Averone 4 8-11 19, Justyne Kranenburg 1 0-0 2, Kristie Taylor 0 0-0 0, LeeAnn Meyer 1 2-4 4. TOTALS: 12 17-25 46.
3-point goals: Culver 1 (A. Zehner), OD 5 (Averone 3, Campbell 2); Turnovers: Culver 23, OD 18; Rebounds: Culver 50 (McBee 15, G. Zehner 13, Carnegie 11), OD 27 (Averone 8); Assists: Culver 7 (Sanders 4), OD 4; Steals: Culver 7 (Sanders 5), OD 10 (Campbell 5); Fouls (fouled out): Culver 23 (Carnegie, A. Zehner), OD 24 (Schwenk, Campbell); Records: Culver 16-1, OD 12-4.