CULVER — Culver Academy versus Mishawaka Marian has been one of the top high school boys basketball rivalries the past couple of years as the two programs have regularly been in the upper echelon of the Class 3A state rankings, as well as sectional foes.
With the Eagles moving up to 4A this year, Tuesday night’s game with the Knights would be the only time the talented squads would meet on the hardwood this season, so it was only fitting that the latest meeting was an instant classic.
Playing catch-up the whole game, the Academy was able to force overtime, then dominated the extra session against eighth-ranked Marian to come away with the thrilling 59-54 victory at Fleet Gymnasium.
Down 50-47 with just 5.9 seconds left in regulation, Nick Hittle hit a corner 3 with two Knights draped all over him to send the Eagle faithful into a frenzy and the game to OT.
“We ran a play for him. You dream of that, making a shot like that,” said Culver Academy head coach Mark Galloway of the senior’s clutch bucket. “I’m glad everyone stuck around because it was exciting at the end.”
Culver scored first in the overtime, spead the court after that, and eventually outscored the visitors 9-1 before Marian made an inconsequential 3 at the buzzer for the final margin.
“We wanted to get the tip and score quick and we did,” Galloway said of overtime. “That was the difference there. If we get the lead they have to go man-to-man and they want to sit in their zone all night.”
Deontae Craig scored seven of his game-high 21 points in extra period and Trey Galloway added 19. Hittle finished with 14.
Before overtime, the only other time Culver led was 4-2. In fact, over the end of the second quarter and the start of the third, the Knights scored 10 straight and led 30-20. They held 10-point leads on two other occasions and with 4:46 to play in regulation, still led by eight (44-36). Craig made two free throws to cut it to six and at that point no other Culver player had scored except for Galloway, Hittle and Craig. Anthony Goeb scored on a drive though, then Desi Martello hit a 3 as part of a 7-2 run to give the Eagles some life.
“They had it at the pace they wanted and we were playing chase,” Galloway continued. “In this kind of game, you have to get off to a good start because a four-point lead seems like a 10-point lead.”
Still down 48-43 with 1:45 showing, Galloway made a pair of foul shots, then after a Marian turnover, scored on a layup to pull Culver within one at the 1:26 mark. The Knights made just 2-of-4 from the charity stripe in the double bonus situation over the next 50 seconds setting up Hittle’s clutch shot.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Galloway concluded. “They stayed the course. Every practice we scrimmage against the JV with them ahead 7-0 so we had to figure it out. Marian is the favorite to win their sectional. That is a solid team. They’re talking about going to state. They probably can. It’s been a great rivalry.”
Culver Academy will host its annual four-team Winter Classic this Saturday.
CULVER ACADEMY 59, MISHAWAKA MARIAN 54
Marian 9 24 37 50 54
Cul. Acad. 8 20 30 50 59
MARIAN: Deaglan Sullivan 8, Dar’e’on Thornton 2, Ky’Rell Franklin 14, Jerry Bracey 12, Mitchell Menting 16, Kaleo Kakalia 2, Michael Baughman 0. TOTALS: 20 11-17 54
CULVER ACADEMY: Nicholas Gravenites 0, Anthony Goeb 2, Deontae Craig 21, Jokubas Skurdenis 0, Trey Galloway 19, Desi Martello 3, Nick Hittle 14, Jevaugn Boothe 0, Dante Scott 0, Konner Brockus 0. TOTALS: 19 16-24 59.
3-pointers: Culver Academy 5 (Galloway 2, Hittle 2, Martello), Marian 3 (Menting 2, Sullivan). Fouls (fouled out): Culver Academy 16 (none), Marian 19 (Kakalia).
Records: Culver Academy 8-4, Marian 8-3
JV score: Culver Academy 57, Marian 48