Culver hoop boys win back-to-back games

Now at 3-3 in Columbia Basin Conference

   Following up a home win over Wahtonka with a road victory Saturday at Weston-McEwen High in Athena has Culver High's boys basketball Bulldogs right in the thick of the Columbia Basin Conference playoff picture.
   Sparked by the scoring of Nate Lewis, with 23 points, and an overall sound defensive game which coach Mark Sheets said would be a key coming into the weekend, Culver came from behind with a 19-11 run in the fourth quarter to secure its 48-43 win Saturday.
   While leading 19-17 at halftime, Culver had fallen behind 32-29 in the wake of Weston-McEwen's one sustained rally of the game. The Bulldogs bounced back as the inside play of Lewis, a sophomore, and senior center Jeff Cloud came into effect enough to net Cloud 10 points himself. Adding to the Bulldogs scoring at Athena were Chris Dix with eight points, Brennan Whitaker with three, Luis Montes with two and Dustin Herman with one. Those Bulldogs rotated in and out of the lineup, along with Jordan Sheets, who got in without scoring.
   Limiting the Weston-McEwen offense to just one double digit scorer, and that one with just 11, left Culver's defense able to snag rebounds and start some fast breaks to baskets.
   The two wins which began with a 54-46 counquering of Wahtonka's Eagles at home on Friday landed Culver in the fourth spot in the current conference standings, at 3-3. It is now behind only Heppner, Umatilla and Weston-McEwen.
   The Bulldogs are tied with a Stanfield team it bowed to earlier in the season and face a journey to Sherman County Friday to finish off its first round of the conference schedule which will transition directly into the second round with four games Saturday.
   Culver will entertain Heppner in one of the four conference games Saturday that will begin sorting out those teams headed on toward the league and state playoffs.
   Balanced scoring anchored the Culver win in its home game as well last week as Wahtonka found itself watching Cloud, Lewis and Herman pulling down at least a half dozen rebounds between them in the first 10 to 12 minutes alone.
   The rebounds and outlet passes or plays which followed pushed Culver into an early lead that topped out at 20-6 before being trimmed to 20-9 by a three-point Wahtonka spurt in the final minute of the first quarter.
   While taking a timeout to reorganize some defensively after Wahtonka cut the lead to 20-14 at one point early in the second quarter, Culver continue struggling. Wahtonka had cut the disadvantage to 25-22 by halftime.
   A third-quarter explosion let Culver careen to its second league win as its 23-6 run allowed virtually all the Bulldogs who still had quarters left to play, following a junior varsity game, got into action.
   Complementing the 16 points Lewis had and 12 points which both Dix and Whitaker added to the Culver attack were three more scoring ventures. Cloud had eight, Jordan Sheets two and Herman four in a win in which Montes, Chris Clugston and Grant Putnam also got to play.