Eagles back in the Final Four

CMA celebrates a second straight regional title at South Bend
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

Culver Academy’s boys basketball team defeated the Wildcats twice Saturday to claim the Class 3A South Bend Washington Regional.
First the Eagles dispatched the Hanover Central Wildcats, 55-37, in the morning semifinal, and then it was Hammond High School – with the same feline moniker – 62-41 in the nightcap. With the pair of wins on the longest day of the state tournament, the Eagles advance to the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
“To win this and cut down the nets again is an awesome feeling,” said Culver Academy head coach Mark Galloway. “Really proud of our guys and their resiliency. I love our kids. I love Culver. We have great fans and great support. All these kids want to win, but I’m especially happy for the seniors (Ethan Brittain-Watts, John Cohen, Jordon Freeman). We’ve got another week of practice with them. I’m excited to see them on Monday.”
The third-ranked Academy (23-3) will next face Marion (19-7), who upset No. 1 ranked Delta in its regional final, in the semistate Saturday, March 16, at North Side Gym in Elkhart. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m., following the Class A game at 4:00.

The Academy defeated Hammond last year at regionals, on its way to the state championship. Could this be an omen of a repeat finals appearance?
“I hope so,” added Galloway. “We had them in the morning game last year, but when you play them when you are tired (in the evening game), it’s tough. The mental capacity it takes to handle the ball and their pressure is tough.”
Tough, but not impossible as the experienced Eagles used balanced scoring, great team defense, and a welcome night at the free throw line to pull away from a fast Hammond (20-8) squad.
Deontae Craig scored six of his 12 points in the first quarter as the Eagles overcame a slow start to lead 10-8 after one period of play. Culver exploded for 23 points in the second stanza, including eight of Brittain-Watts’ game-high 17 points and half of Trey Galloway’s 14, while holding the Wildcats to just 18 points at the intermission. The Eagles went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the second quarter alone and finished the game 17-of-22 (77 percent) compared to Hammond’s 6-for-9 effort. Culver normally shoots 65 percent from the foul line.
The second half was frenetic. The pace quickened, the effort was ramped up, and the number of fouls increased. At one point, the Academy had been whistled for nine fouls compared to just three for Hammond with Galloway out for about a seven-minute stretch due to his fourth foul and Craig also benched for an extended time. The lead swung from as high as 43-20 to as close as 52-39, but an Eagles victory was never in doubt. Jordon Freeman, the fourth of Culver’s double-digit scorers, had nine of his 13 points in the third quarter, including a spectacular reverse layup.
“It was very physical, both halves, but we fought through it,” Galloway said. “Hammond’s an incredible team. They get after you. I think they are one of the better teams in northern Indiana regardless of class. They are an incredible team with good shooters and good scorers. They can score in bunches. They make you work. They made us work.”
Hammond’s leading scorer, Amiri Young (21 ppg), guarded most of the game by Galloway, was held to just six points, four coming from the foul line.
“It was a team effort, but Trey usually guards their best player,” continued Galloway. “It’s tough being out with foul trouble, but when he was on the bench, he was cheering the other guys on, wanting them to do well.
“Everyone has (Craig) pegged as a football player, but he is a heck of a basketball player. He can create problems for people because he can score inside or bring the ball up court. He’s such a smart player. (Brittain-Watts) has that scorer’s mentality and he’s aggressive. (Freeman) is so versatile. I love our team. This is awesome, but now I want to get some rest.”
At South Bend Washington (Regional final)
Cul. Acad. 10 33 47 62
Hammond 8 18 30 41
CULVER ACADEMY (62): Jordon Freeman 5 3-4 13, Ethan Brittain-Watts 5 7-8 17, John Cohen 0 0-0 0, Nicholas Gravenites 1 0-0 2, Anthony Goeb 1 2-2 4, Deontae Craig 5 2-4 12, Trey Galloway 5 3-4 14, Desmond Martello 0 0-0 0, Dante Scott 0 0-0 0, Jevaughn Boothe 0 0-0 0, Deandre Francis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 17-22 62.
HAMMOND (41): Timothy Wilder 0 0-0 0, Ronald Harris 2 1-3 5, Amiri Young 1 4-4 6, Paul Redden 2 0-0 4, Khristian Alexander 0 0-0 0, Harold Woods 5 0-0 12, Jamar Styles 3 1-2 7, Reggie Abrams 3 0-0 7, Kenneth McClendon 0 0-0 0, Michael Anderson 0 0-0 0, Jatrell Harris 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 16 6-9 41.
3-pointers: Culver Academy 1 (Galloway), Hammond 3 (Woods 2, Abrams). Fouls (fouled out): Culver Academy 13 (none), Hammond 20 (Harris).
Records: Culver Academy 23-3, Hammond 20-8 (final).

In the regional semifinal game that tipped off at 10 a.m., Culver used 10-0 and 10-3 runs to end the second and third quarters, respectively, to pull away from Hanover Central, 55-37, who came in after winning its first sectional in 33 years.
Brittain-Watts starred in the first spree, scoring eight straight points in a minute, including an NBA-range 3-pointer to end the first half. The Eagles held the Wildcats (17-9) to just 11 first-half points and took a 12-point lead into the intermission.
At the end of the third quarter, Brittain-Watts hit a 3, followed that with an old-fashioned three-point play, then Galloway had a layup and two-hand slam dunk on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to an insurmountable 17-point gap heading into the final quarter.
Brittain-Watts finished with a game-high 18 points, followed by Galloway’s 11. Freeman added nine and Craig chipped in eight.
Hanover Central was led by sophomore Joey Glidewell’s 14 points. Although the Wildcats did go a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line, 15 point-per-game scorers Dominic Lucido and Luke Barach were held to 11 and eight, respectively. TJ Burt (10 ppg) was held scoreless by the Eagles’ defense.
At South Bend Washington (Regional semifinal)
Culver Academy 11 23 40 55
Hanover Central 6 11 23 37
CULVER ACADEMY (55): Jordon Freeman 4 1-2 9, Ethan Brittain-Watts 5 5-6 18, John Cohen 0 0-0 0, Nicholas Gravenites 0 0-0 0, Anthony Goeb 2 0-0 5, Deontae Craig 4 0-2 8, Trey Galloway 4 3-4 11, Desmond Martello 0 0-0 0, Dante Scott 0 0-0 0, Jevaughn Boothe 0 1-2 1, Deandre Francis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20 10-16 55.
HANOVER CENTRAL (37): Kameron Ludwig 0 0-0 0, TJ Burt 0 0-0 0, Chris Roop 0 0-0 0, Joey Glidewell 5 2-2 14, Brenden Bonner 0 0-0 0, Bret Matthys 0 2-2 2, Ryan Raczkowski 0 0-0 0, Dillon Koontz 0 0-0 0, Dominic Lucido 3 4-4 11, Luke Barach 2 2-2 8, Keith Koontz 0 0-0 0, Landen Babusiak 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 11 10-10 37.
3-pointers: Culver Academy 5 (Brittain-Watts 3, Cohen, Goeb), Hanover Central 5 (Glidewell 2, Barach 2, Lucido). Fouls (fouled out): Culver Academy 11 (none), Hanover Central 18 (none).