CULVER — Culver Community head coach Tony Scheub told his Lady Cavs to hold their heads high as they left the locker room after the Class 2A Girls Basketball Semistate Saturday.
Because, although they may have fallen a little short of the championship, the list of what the team was able to accomplish far outweighs that close 47-43 loss to No. 1-rated Fort Wayne Luers.
“This team hasn’t been afraid all season long,” said head coach Tony Scheub. “From day one we don’t care who you are or where we play you, you’re going to take our best game. In very few games have these kids not given 100 percent.”
The Cavs finished a perfect 7-0 in Northern State Conference play to clinch the 2010-11 league title, claimed supremacy at their home holiday tournament back on December 22, and wrestled the Bi-County Tournament crown from the four-time defending champion Bobcats of Oregon-Davis with a 50-46 victory January 22.
The team also has the distinction not only of winning Culver Community its first girls basketball regional title with a 37-33 win over Fairfield on February 19, but of winning the school its first team regional championship in any sport in 42 years of existence.
Culver’s record-breaking 25-2 season was borne mainly of the determination of its five senior starters in Gwen and Alison Zehner, Patrice McBee, Whitney Sanders and Nicole Carnegie. The classmates had come through some tough times together headed into their final season, going a combined 13-29 as freshmen and sophomores and finishing at a sub .500 10-11 last year after a strong 5-0 start.
“We’ve come through so much,” said Gwen Zehner. “We always were really good friends off the court and we just kept working and we finally made it here. This is more than we could ever have asked for.”
For anyone expecting a rebuilding year in Scheub’s first year at the helm, they were in for a surprise as the new skipper instilled a defensive discipline to match the Cavs’ already formidable offensive weaponry.
Both players and coach say his transition to the head coaching position was mostly an easy one.
“For them to take me in like they did, them being a senior class that has played together, I really appreciated it,” said Scheub. “I told them thank you very much for letting me be a part of this run because it was awesome. I had a lot of fun.”
“This year we came in with a new coach and at first everyone thought that we would be scared of him or hesitant with him, but it wasn’t even like that,” Carnegie said. “We welcomed him from the beginning, and he told us that if we went into the gym and worked hard for those two hours that we would go somewhere and we would be a good team this year, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Despite its 20-1 NSC and Bi-County title-winning regular season, Culver was probably still a little underrated headed into the IHSAA state series, and that left a little chip on the players’ shoulders.
The Cavs nipped Fairfield, rated better than them in the AP polls, for their regional title, and some projections had Culver losing to Luers by more than 30 points.
“It was on John Harrell; some people expected us to lose by 32-plus,” said Gwen Zehner. “That hurt me so much. What do we need to do to prove we’re a good team?”
It was an outstanding season, one that surpassed many outsiders’ expectations and one that the Cavs can savor for a long time. And while they’ll never forget the year, no one is liable to forget them any time soon, either.
“I think it’s something that’s going to live on for a long while in Culver,” Zehner said. “Our picture is up on the wall now and there are going to be a lot of plaques underneath it. We’re not going to be forgotten.”