The Culver boys basketball team kicked off the season 1-1 at the Sherman County Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
>Bulldogs split in Moro
Culver senior guard Gerson Gonzalez dropped 40 points on Weston-McEwen in the tournament championship, but the Bulldogs lost, 73-65.
Gonzalez netted 24 in the Bulldogs' 71-57 win against Sherman County on Friday to open the tournament.
Culver head coach Brennan Whitaker said he was pleased with how hard his team played, saying they executed well in the half-court at both ends of the floor.
Of course, being a coach, he still knows his team has a long way to go before he stays satisfied for long.
"The games gave us an opportunity to see what we have to work on," he said. "But overall, I'm pleased with how we played."
Against Sherman County on Friday, Whitaker said Gonzalez not only played well on offense by scoring a team-high point total, but since he drew so much attention, the Huskies double-teamed him at times and left people open.
"A player like Gerson makes his teammates better because they get wide open looks at the basket," Whitaker said. "He helped get others involved."
A testament to that was all but two players, so nine of 11 in uniform, scored points.
While no one else scored in double figures, a balanced offensive attack helped the Bulldogs to their first win of the season.
Jon Slaght scored nine points while Clay Gibson, Ryan Fritz and Joe Daugherty each chipped in eight.
With the scoring load spread out, Whitaker said the Bulldogs played defense "better than he expected them to," and even when Sherman's star player Riley Brown had 25 points, he had to take a ton of shots to do it.
"We played him tough and made him take a lot of tough shots," Whitaker said. "At this level, I'll let anyone take step-back 3-pointers all night long, and that's what he did."
The third period was all Culver. The Bulldogs rang up a 26-9 advantage in the frame that Whitaker said was built on great defense.
"I was a little concerned because Sherman is very athletic, but we had great rotations and perfect helpside defense," Whitaker said. "We also outrebounded them, which helped."
Offensively, the Bulldogs simply moved the ball better, Whitaker said, and were more patient and conservative with shot selection.
"Earlier we didn't move it well. We made one or two passes then hoisted up a shot," Whitaker said. "But once we moved it better and passed, we got some great looks and knocked them down."
The third frame was definitely the turning point, considering the Bulldogs were outscored in the second and fourth periods, while just holding a 13-12 advantage after the first.
Weston-McEwen 73, Culver 65
In the championship game of the Sherman County Invitational, Gonzalez's 40 points wasn't enough against the TigerScots from Weston.
Another stat line amounting to 40 was the real problem for the Bulldogs, however, and that was turnovers.
They gave the ball up nearly four dozen times, something Whitaker said is the at the top of the agenda for practice this week.
"We've got to take better care of the ball, simple as that," he said.
Culver also didn't shoot particularly well from the foul line, either; they made just 12 of 26 foul shots.
Gibson scored eight points and hauled in 10 rebounds to help the Bulldogs stay in the game.
Culver battled foul trouble as well, and Whitaker said he couldn't put his best scoring lineup on the floor when they needed points the most because of it.
"We've got to be more patient on offense and figure out when it's a good time to attack the basket and when it's good to move the ball," Whitaker said.
Culver beat Dufur on Tuesday in Dufur, 65-44, to move to 2-1 on the season. A full recap will be in Wednesday's Pioneer.