BREMEN — With Indiana’s version of March Madness mere days away, Culver capped the regular season on a high note Friday night.
After a tremendous start, Culver never looked back and topped Bremen, 54-39.
“We got them earlier in the year at the Bi-County Tournament but we knew this was going to be a dogfight, and we had some kids step up for us,” Culver coach Kyle Elliott said. “I’m very proud of the kids’ effort.”
As it has much of the season, Bremen dug itself an early hole, and couldn’t cut its deficit to less than 12 points over the final two quarters.
“When you’re in that kind of hole you give everything you have to get out and just run out of energy, and that’s what happened to us,” Bremen coach Kyle Hanyzewski said. “They worked as hard as they could but they aren’t capable of coming back from that kind of hole, and unfortunately the last five games that’s what’s happened.”
From a shooting standpoint, Culver (14-7) was perfect in the first quarter. The Cavaliers made all seven of their field-goal attempts and their only free throw try in taking an 18-4 lead. Culver did it against an unfamiliar lineup for Bremen (3-17), which started all four of its seniors on a night in which the school honored all of its senior winter athletes.
“Kyle was playing his seniors to start out the ballgame, which most coaches do on senior night,” Elliott said. “We knew it was a little different lineup for them and thought we might be able to exploit it in catching them in a lineup they’re not used to being in. But still, you have to put the ball in the hole and they did a nice job of that.”
Jacob Box and Josh Brenneman combined for nine of Bremen’s 11 points in the second quarter. The Lions were outscored by a basket in the period as Culver took a 31-15 halftime lead. Zoe Bauer led Culver with seven points in the first half, as five Cavaliers had at least three points.
A 3-pointer by Box and two baskets by Austin Huff trimmed Culver’s lead to 34-22 early in the third quarter. It was one of four times in the second half Bremen pulled within 12, but Culver scored on the following possession each time to prevent a rally.
“That was big because Bremen just doesn’t quit,” Elliott said. “Our kids kept their poise and kept them from making a big run.”
Bauer led Culver with 13 points, followed by Collin Stevens and Micah Budzinski with 11 apiece. Budzinski led all players with 10 rebounds, as Culver outrebounded Bremen 26-10 for the game.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the effort, but I was really disappointed that we didn’t block out,” Hanyzewski said. “It’s something we stress all the time but some of our guys just watched instead of putting a body on someone.”
Box led Bremen with 11 points, followed by Brenneman with 10.
Culver will have to wait and see who it will play in Friday’s sectional semifinal at Winamac. The foe is likely to be one-loss North Judson, which beat Culver 72-35 in the teams’ Dec. 29 meeting.
“It looks like it’ll be Judson and I like to think we’re a lot better team than we showed on that particular night,” Elliott said. “I like where we’re sitting in that bye bracket because it gives us more time to prepare. We’ll enjoy this one and then get focused on Monday for North Judson.”
Bremen will face Fairfield in the Westview sectional semifinal round. Fairfield won the teams’ Feb. 5 matchup, 58-43.
“That was a game we led at halftime and played well before going into a funk in the third quarter,” Han-yzewski said. “What I want the kids to realize is we’re just one upset away from playing for a championship. You can say what you will about our record, but anything can happen in one game, and that’s the attitude we need to take in and see what happens.”
• CULVER 54,
Score by quarters
Culver: 18 31 42 54
Bremen: 4 15 26 39
CULVER (54): A.J. Neace 2 1-2 6, Scotty Brown 0 0-0 0, Collin Stevens 3 3-4 11, Zoe Bauer 4 4-7 13, Trent Elliott 3 2-2 9, Patrick McBee 0 2-2 2, Micah Budzinski 4 3-6 11, Larry Clingler 1 0-2 2, Jacoda Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-25 54.
BREMEN (39): Ben Hueni 1 1-2 3, Ty Holmes 0 0-0 0, Jesse Glingle 0 2-2 2, Ethan Pike 0 0-0 0, Jacob Box 4 1-1 11, Josh Brenneman 5 0-0 10, J.J. Schafer 2 1-4 5, Austin Huff 3 0-0 6, Michael Ricketts 0 0-0 0, Mitch Huppert 0 2-2 2. Totals: 15 7-11 39.
Rebounds: Culver 26 (Budzinski 10), Bremen 10 (Box, Schafer 3); 3-point: Culver 5-16, Bremen 2-15; Turnovers: Culver 16, Bremen 10. Fouls: Culver 13, Bremen 19. Records: Culver 14-7, Bremen 3-17.