Culver takes third at own tournament
Culver boys basketball head coach Brennan Whitaker's offensive philosophy is simple - pass the ball.
When his team did that during the Culver Booster Club Invitational tournament Friday and Saturday in Culver, they had success.
After opening the tournament with a 45-40 loss to Crane on Friday, the Bulldogs bounced back in a big way when they crushed Lost River, 62-31, Saturday in the third-place game.
"We just had better shot selection (against Lost River)," Whitaker said. "We didn't come down the floor and make one or two passes, then throw up a shot. We made ourselves take better quality shots."
Culver 62, Lost River 31
The Bulldogs took a little while to get going, but once they did, the Raiders didn't have an answer.
When the Raiders put together a flurry of points to cut the Culver lead to 16-12 early in the second period, the Bulldogs went on an 11-4 run, keyed by a Ryan Fritz 3-pointer, with 3:41 left in the frame.
Hitting an outside shot was a welcomed sight for Whitaker and the Bulldogs, since they went 3 for 17 from beyond the arch against the Mustangs on Friday night.
"We just don't have any knock-down shooters that can drill a bunch of 3s for us," he said. "But the perimeter shots we took were all in our offense and came after we worked the ball."
Culver's 6-foot-5 post Jon Slaght had a field day against the smaller Lost River interior when it came to offensive rebounding and putbacks. Slaght scored most of his 16 points on the "garbage" buckets, meaning he cleaned up missed shots near the rim and put points on the board.
For any offense to run smoothly, however, it takes a solid player running the show at point guard. Culver has that kind of player in freshman Tom McDonald.
McDonald scored six points against the Raiders, but facilitated the halfcourt offense very well to give his teammates wide open, high percentage shots.
"We had a good offensive flow and got everyone involved, and Tom was a big reason why," Whitaker said. "It's a lot to ask out of a freshman, but he's maturing well and getting better every day. He wants to get better."
Culver built a 12-point lead by the halftime horn, 29-17, then stretched it out to 20, 42-22, by the end of the third period.
Culver post Clay Gibson hit a nice runner in the paint to give the Bulldogs a 45-22 lead with 7:19 left in the game. Not long after that Whitaker started mixing in his reserve players to finish out the game.
Culver senior guard Gerson Gonzalez finally got to see some action during the tournament after being benched due to picking up a technical foul against Crane in the middle of the first quarter Friday.
Usually a fixture in the starting lineup, Whitaker held him out of the lineup, then subbed him about halfway through the first period.
He still ended up leading all scorers with 17 points, driving to the hoop hard and getting to the rim through the pourous Lost River defense.
Culver's Joe Daugherty turned in a good game for the Bulldogs as well. The sophomore scored eight points, tied with Gibson for third-highest on the team, and played very good defense with four steals.
Culver held the Raiders to single-digit scoring every quarter, but Whitaker still thought his team played better defensively against Crane.
Crane 45, Culver 40
A comeback attempt fell just short for the Bulldogs on Friday against the Class 1A Mustangs in the tournament opener.
The Bulldogs hit their first 3-point basket at a crucial point to help keep the game close at the end with Slaght drilling one from the corner with 1:28 left to pull them within nine, 43-34, with 1:09 left.
Culver got a couple more long-range hoops from McDonald with 53.2 seconds left, and a big one from Gibson with 6.6 seconds left to pull them within four, 44-40.
Crane hit a free throw, however, to ice the game.
Down 34-25 late in the third period, Crane was given a technical foul after a player slapped the backboard while attempting to block a shot, then the Bulldogs began to make their move.
Gibson ended the game with a game-high 19 points. Fritz had 11 points, and both players pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
Crane's Nic Nyman scored 17 to lead the Mustangs.