SOUTH BEND - Culver Academy’s boys basketball team travels the state - and sometimes across the border - to find stiff competition. Saturday night’s challenge was a little bit closer to home when the Eagles traveled to South Bend Saint Joseph.
Playing nearly flawless the first three quarters, the Academy was able to withstand a furious fourth-quarter comeback by the second-ranked (Class 3A) Indians to take the 70-63 victory.
“I’m proud of what we did on the road,” said Culver Academy head coach Mark Galloway. “It’s tough to win at Warsaw (which they did Jan. 7). It’s tough to win here.”
CMA was humming along with a 52-28 late in the third quarter and when St. Joe scored six straight points to end the period, the only thing that registered for those in attendance was that maybe the final gap would be under 20.
“I think most people left after halftime,” Galloway continued. “We were cruising and I saw coaches (who were scouting the game) leaving. We were kind of leaving too and you can’t do that.”
Led by Notre Dame recruit JR Konieczny though, St. Joe posted a 29-point final quarter and cut the lead all the way down to six, 62-56, with 1:30 remaining in the game with Eagles standout Trey Galloway on the verge of fouling out.
With the Indians forced to foul though, CMA hit 6-of-9 from the foul line over the final 1:19 to nearly match St. Joe’s seven points during that span and were able to finish off the seven-point win.
“You want to learn from a win because you could be learning from a loss,” Galloway added. “You want it to sting a little when you won, but you didn’t play well. We need to keep getting better.”
Galloway, an Indiana University signee, led all scorers with 25 points. Konieczny had just four points at halftime, but finished with 24 (11-13 FTs), 16 coming in the final quarter alone. His total put the junior over the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Deontae Craig (18 pts, 6-6 FTs) and Nick Hittle (14 pts) were also in double digits for the Eagles. Will Terry was St. Joe’s second-leading scorer with 17 (four 3s).
“We have three guys that we think can get double figures,” Galloway said of his top scorers. “Trey creates match-up problems. He can get by you and when his shot is on, he’s a problem to guard. We want to get Deontae in the middle more where he is so effective. He’s a mismatch problem too and a monster on the glass. Nick can really shoot it. He can step out and hit 3s. I’m really proud of him.”
Culver was dominate early, leading 13-3 midway through the first period. The 6-10 Hittle, an Indiana State recruit, hit three outside shots, including a 3, for seven points in the first frame and Galloway and Craig already had six each. St. Joe mustered just four field goals in the first eight minutes, but three were from beyond the arc to stay close at 19-11.
The second quarter was even better for the Eagles. They shot off 11 straight points to begin the period, including 3s from Galloway, Jokubus Skurdenis and Desi Martello. Anthony Goeb added a triple later and the lead reached 22 before settling at 39-20 at the intermission.
After playing aggressively in the first half, CMA spread the floor in the third quarter and was very deliberate. The move was successful initially, but eventually St. Joe adjusted and ultimately, made the outcome much closer by the end.
“I’ll take the blame,” Galloway said of the move that may have seen its last days. “It’s like in football playing a prevent defense and hoping you don’t get scored on. We should have stayed aggressive and attacking. Kids get casual and relaxed with a big lead. That’s not who we are. We’ve got to stay aggressive and play with toughness. We let the officiating get under our skin a little bit too.
Culver Academy takes on another ranked Class 3A team tonight, former sectional rival and eighth-ranked Mishawaka Marian (8-2). Tip-off is around 7:30 p.m.
CULVER ACADEMY 70, SOUTH BEND ST. JOSEPH 63
At South Bend
CULVER ACADEMY: Nicholas Gravenites 0 0-0 0, Anthony Goeb 2 2-2 7, Deontae Craig 6 6-6 18, Jokubas Skurdenis 1 0-0 3, Trey Galloway 10 4-10 25, Desi Martello 1 0-0 3, Nick Hittle 6 1-2 14. TOTALS: 26 13-20 70.
ST. JOE: Connor Litka 2 0-0 5, Cole Hatkevich 1 0-0 2, JR Konieczny 6 11-13 24, Adam O’Dell 1 2-2 5, Jack Futa 3 1-1 8, Will Terry 6 1-2 17, John Driscoll 1 0-1 2. TOTALS: 20 15-19 63.
Score by quarters
CMA 19 39 52 70
St. Joe 11 20 34 63
3-pointers: Culver Academy 5 (Goeb, Skurdenis, Galloway, Martello, Hittle), SB St. Joseph 8 (Terry 4, Liktka, Konieczny, O’Dell, Futa). Fouls (fouled out): Culver Academy 19 (none), SB St. Joseph 17 (none)
Records: Culver Academy 7-4, SB St. Joseph 9-3