CULVER — Winning championships is often a matter of peaking at the right time.
Culver Military Academy extended its win streak to eight games with its Sectional 19 championship victory over St. Joseph’s Saturday, and while the Eagles have played some solid basketball and even shown occasional spurts of brilliance in that stretch, head coach Mark Galloway believes he still hasn’t seen his team’s best game yet.
CMA travels to the Class 3A Crown Point Regional Saturday, where the Eagles (16-6) will take on Andrean (15-8) in the morning match-up at 11 a.m. EST, followed by a game between Western (18-4) and defending semistate champ Gary Wallace (10-10). The championship is scheduled to get under way at 8 p.m. EST.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet,” said Galloway. “Up to this point we’ve had two good days of practice. I think if you have a good week of practice, everything else will take care of itself. We’re healthy, we seem really fresh... We want to be in the gym, we want to practice, and we’re excited to still be playing and still practicing right now.
“Last week might have been our best week of practice. Now, we didn’t play our best two games, but we played well enough to beat Mishawaka Marian and well enough to beat St. Joe. We’re still looking to put four good quarters together... and I think that the further you get and the longer you advance it’s something you’re going to have to do at some point.”
CMA’s 66-57 victory over St. Joe Saturday gave the program its first boys basketball sectional championship since the Eagles joined the IHSAA some 36 years ago. Obviously that benchmark was a special experience for the team, but CMA wants to go even further.
The way to do that, says Galloway, is for the Eagles to keep the same mindset that got them there in the first place.
“On the one hand you do want to be excited for making history and having your seniors be able to leave a legacy or leave an imprint on the program,” he said. “We kind of talk every day about being humble and thankful for being able to play the game we love. That’s the last thing I left them with in the locker room is we’re not going to change what we do this week and the way we walk around school or campus. You have to be humble and hungry every day to get better. Not just because you’re winning but because you want to get better.”
Culver will need that combination of humility and hunger as it enters a Crown Point field against a tough Andrean squad that boasts 15 wins, as well as AP No. 10-ranked Western and an experienced Gary Wallace team that went all the way to the 2010-11 state championships last year.
“You definitely don’t want to look past Andrean; they’re a very tough team,” said Galloway. “At this point, to get there every team has won a championship just like we have, so we don’t want to do that. Gary Wallace is the defending champ of that regional and they went to the state finals last year. They’re extremely talented and they’ve got the experience of being there, especially with Brandon Dawson, who is, in my opinion, one of the best players in the state.
‘Western has had a terrific year, they’re 18-5, and I know their coach pretty well, Andy Weaver, and he’s had that team to the regional a couple years, and I think he’s been at Western 18 years so he’s got some good experience. They’re a nice ball club, too.”