PLYMOUTH — Two weeks ago Culver Community made program history with its first-ever regional girls basketball championship.
On Saturday, neighboring Culver Military Academies bucked its own historical trend, capturing its first sectional championship since joining the IHSAA state series 36 years ago, with a 66-57 victory over South Bend St. Joseph’s in the Class 3A Sectional 19 final at Plymouth.
The Eagles improve to 16-6 and move on to the Class 3A Crown Point Regional Saturday, where they will face Andrean in the opening game at 11 a.m. EST, followed by a game between Gary Wallace and Western.
“I think it’s gratifying, especially for the seniors to get to go out sectional champs and hopefully keep advancing,” said Eagles head basketball coach Mark Galloway. “I think we keep getting better every week so it’s nice to keep practicing one more week so we can keep getting better.”
“It’s amazing to have everyone here to share this,” he added. “I think we had the biggest crowd in the gym.”
St. Joe was still in the game up until late in the third quarter, as CMA closed out the frame 7-2 for a 47-41 advantage going into the fourth, then held off the Indians in the remaining eight minutes for the win.
“It’s kind of a great microcosm of our season; we lost eight in a row and in January they came back and won eight in a row. Our guys didn’t quit. They kept battling tonight, and that’s what they did throughout the season,” said South Bend St. Joe head coach Marty Harshman.
CMA trailed early, falling behind 13-8 at the first quarter break before a 4-0 first half-closing mini-run off back-to-back steals by Hayes Barnes and Juwan Brescacin for a pair of easy transition layups knotted the game at 22-all going into halftime.
The third quarter featured a total of five ties and four lead changes before CMA point guard Jermaine Myers put the Eagles up for good with a 3-pointer off the top of the key around the 2:30 mark of the frame.
Myers finished with a game-high 23 points, nine assists with just one turnover with six rebounds and four steals to lead his team to its first sectional title. Myers scored 17 of his points in the decisive second half to lift his team past the Indians.
“In the first half their zone really slowed me down,” said Myers. “Second half, coach told me to attack the zone, make plays, make things happen. I went out there and I tried to get my teammates involved, tried to assert myself a bit more.”
“The thing about Jermaine is he’s the first one in the gym and the last one to leave,” Galloway said. “He is such a floor leader, and he keeps us poised, keeps us under control.”
CMA earned a living at the free throw line in the win, drawing numerous shooting fouls inside the Indians’ 2-3 zone and capitalizing with 16 of 27 charity tosses, while St. Joe went to the line just six times with 7-for-9 free throw shooting in the loss.
“Their length makes it tough,” said Harshman. “We told our guys tonight, when you get inside we want you to go right into their chests to try and neutralize their length. That’s a lot easier said than done, though, when you’re going up against 7-1 and 6-5 and 6-5. They’re able to get the deflections and just kind of discourage any inside action because they’re so dang long and big in there.”
St. Joe was led by senior Dylan McMahon’s 19 points, while fellow upperclassmen Matt Mackowiak and Sean Hart scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
CMA had four total players in double digits as Myers scored 23, Juwan Brescacin put up 15, 7-foot-1 center Chier Ajou used a strong second-half effort to finish with 14, and Willie Strong tallied 11 in the win.
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 19 FINAL
• CULVER MILITARY 66,
ST. JOSEPH’S 57
Score by quarters
CMA: 8 22 47 66
St. Joe: 13 22 41 59
CULVER MILITARY (66): Jermaine Myers 23, Hayes Barnes 0, Eljay Murray 3, Chier Ajou 14, Juwan Brescacin 15, Alex Dodane 0, Willie Strong 11. TOTALS: 23 16-27 66.
ST. JOSEPH’S (57): Sean Hart 10, Kyle Wieschhaus 8, Colton Pulaski 0, Brandon Thorpe 0, Dylan McMahon 19, Trey Olive 0, Connor Edmonds 3, Conor Levey 5, Matt Mackowiak 12. TOTALS: 20 7-9 57.
3-point goals: CMA 4 (Myers 3, Murray), St. Joseph’s 10 (Hart, Wieschhaus 2, McMahon 4, Edmonds, Mackowiak 2); Turnovers: CMA 13, St. Joseph’s 10; Rebounds: CMA 32 (Brescacin 10), St. Joseph’s 27 (McMahon 8); Assists: CMA 14 (Myers 9), St. Joseph’s 11 (McMahon 5); Steals: CMA 7 (Myers 4), St. Joseph’s 4 (Hart 4); Total fouls (fouled out): CMA 15, St. Joseph’s 22 (McMahon, Mackowiak) Records: CMA 16-6; St. Joseph’s 12-11 (final).