Role players big part of Eagles success

John Cohen has played a vital part of CMA's success for a second straight year.
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

A large part of the success for the Culver Academy boys basketball team is from its “Big 3”, but the “Next 3” have played vital roles as well.
The defending Class 3A state champ Eagles are having another fantastic season and are now just one game away from a repeat appearance in the state finals. When they take the floor this Saturday night against Marion at the Elkhart Semistate, the top scorer will most likely be either: Ethan Brittain-Watts, Trey Galloway or Deontae Craig. That has been the case for almost every game this season. Those three players are unquestionably the backbone of the team.
Scoring stats get the attention, but basketball is a team game and without the talents of the other two starters – both seniors – and the sixth man, the Academy would not be on the doorstep of being back-to-back state finalists.
“There’s not one ounce of selfishness and that’s huge for our team,” said head coach Mark Galloway.
Huge and significant. If B-W, Galloway or Craig were prima donnas, the team chemistry would be totally different and the record not as impressive. And without the services of Jordon Freeman, John Cohen and Anthony Goeb, there is no way the Eagles are 23-3 and back in the semistate.
Freeman came off the bench a year ago, but has slid into the starting lineup seamlessly. He is slightly undersized as a six-foot forward, but his speed and jumping ability make up for it.
“Jordon is a tremendous athlete,” added Galloway, who claims one dunk this year was ESPN worthy. “Some of the moves he makes on the baseline are picture perfect. He’s worked his tail off. He’s in the right places. When guys get double-teamed, they find him. He’s the beneficiary. He goes up strong with two hands, makes free throws. I love his versatility.”
Cohen, who is one of the top prep lacrosse players in the country and a top recruit/signee for national power Johns Hopkins, has been a steady hand whether as the point-guard or off-guard. He rarely turns the ball over, is a good passer, a pest on defense, and though he rarely shoots, can consistently hit the 3-pointer.
“He’s a selfless guy. It’s about the team and I see that on the basketball court too,” said Academy head lacrosse coach Jonathan Posner. “He’s a key guy for our team as he is for the basketball team. Offense in basketball is similar to lacrosse as far as setting picks, winning your 1-on-1 match-ups, moving the ball with speed. Defensively, it’s similar with how you are guarding guys, staying between your man and the net/basket. Johnny does all of those things well.
“As much as we miss him (the lax team is already 2-0), we support the multi-sport guys, especially when they are having success. He’s one of the top students in the school: a great student in the classroom, a phenomenal leader, a character guy. He’s a great teammate. He’ll fill any role and do it to the best of his ability. He makes other players around him great.”
In tight games, Culver goes only six deep. That key sixth man is Anthony Goeb. He’s tall (6-4), athletic, can shoot the ball, plays good defense and is a decent rebounder. He can spell any of the starters if need be without much of a drop-off.
“Anthony has done a great job of buying in and accepting his role,” said Geoff Scheetz, one of the team’s assistant coaches and former Plymouth HS standout. “This has allowed not only himself, but the entire team to flourish. He uses his length and athleticism on defense to create deflections, to guard multiple positions, and he has emerged as a solid rebounder on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he is able to spread the floor for us (shooting 40 percent from 3), but also does a good job of attacking open space off the dribble or moving without the ball when the defense is focused on Ethan, Trey, or Deontae.”
At the end of the game, people will notice the scoring totals, but the only stat that really matters to this convocation of Eagles is which TEAM has the most points.