Team wins despite poor shooting
Running an offense and getting good shots were two things the Culver girls basketball team did well during the Culver Booster Club Invitational tournament Friday and Saturday in Culver.
Getting those shots to fall through the hoop, however, was a different story.
In a pair of low-scoring ballgames, the Bulldogs split the tournament with a loss to Crane on Friday, 29-20, and a win against South Wasco County on Saturday, 37-35.
"There was a lid on the hoop the entire weekend for us, it seemed," Culver head coach Scott Fritz said. "I just told the girls to keep putting it up, though. The shots had to fall eventually."
Culver 37, South Wasco 35
For the Bulldogs, more shots fell against the Redsides than did against the Mustangs, but it still wasn't the greatest shooting performance from the home team.
They were able to overcome that, however, by hitting shots at crucial moments of the game and playing great defense.
Tied 28-28 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs went on a 5-0 flurry to start the frame, capped by an Andrea Retano bucket in the paint with 5:34 left in the game.
The Bulldogs held the Redsides scoreless for another minute, but didn't score a field goal the rest of the night.
Chantelle Seehawer hit a free throw to give the Bulldogs a 35-33 lead with 1:53 left, but South Wasco's Zoe Morelli drilled a jumper from the corner to tie the game at 35-35 with 1:40 left.
Culver senior guard Lori Sandy hit what amounted to the game-winning free throws with 1:32 remaining in the ballgame, but the Redsides were able to get a pair of really nice looks at the hoop - one from about three feet - but failed to put the ball through as the final horn sounded.
The story of the game was two-fold: Culver would go on little runs to build leads and sustain them for awhile, but then South Wasco would find ways to get back into it. Sometimes the Redsides just knocked down open shots, other times Culver turned the ball over and created easy buckets for their opponent.
"We showed our youth a little bit," Fritz said. "The game was just so up and down. We would pull ahead and play well, but then turn it over and let them back in it."
In fact, South Wasco came from behind late in the second and third periods to tie the game.
With Culver up 15-12 with 5.2 seconds left in the second period, the Redsides converted a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to send the teams to the locker room tied.
Near the end of the third period, South Wasco went on an 8-0 run to turn a 28-20 deficit to a 28-all tie going into the final frame.
Some of the most frustrating parts about coaching a young team are not being able to fix flaws right away. Sometimes, time is a coach's worst enemy in the short term, but Fritz said he's trying his best to stay patient and believes the time for his team will come.
"We just need more time on the court and playing together," he said. "We have some young players I can count on, and we've been progressing nicely."
Fritz said freshman Reanne Slaght played well in her first varsity action this season at post. Slated to be a reserve when the season began, 6-foot-3 senior post Cassie Fulton decided to leave the team, which made the minutes of 5-10 Slaght increase dramatically.
This weekend was the first time Culver had played teams without a big presence in the paint, and while Fritz realizes the team "has a long way to go," he was still encouraged by the effort level of his team.
"I can't say enough about how hard they work," Fritz said. "The effort is there all the time. They are constantly busting their butts and learning all the time."
The last time Culver trailed was early in the third period, 17-15, but after Sandy converted a 3-point play with a layup and a free throw after a foul, Culver gained the lead with 5:04 left in the third quarter.
Sandy drilled another short jumper, then Slaght collected a great lob pass from freshman Emma Hoke to give the Bulldogs a 26-20 lead with 2:41 remaining.
Sandy finished the game with a team-high 12 points while Seehawer chipped in seven. Retano and Slaght each scored six to help pace the Bulldogs.
Morelli scored a game-high 18 for the Redsides.
Crane 29, Culver 20
Culver went scoreless in the first quarter, but the flip side to that was Crane scored just five points in a game that was as offense-challenged as the score suggests.
"We couldn't buy a bucket," Fritz said. "If we would have shot just 30 percent, we would have been ahead by 10-15 points. Nothing went in."
Instead, Culver trailed the Class 1A Mustangs 11-6 at the half and couldn't get any offense going until the fourth period.
The Bulldogs posted 12 points in the final frame, more than the eight they scored in the previous three, but Crane was able to do just enough to hang on to the lead and win.
Seehawer led the Bulldogs with six points and Sara McKinney, who is returning from a back injury and in her first action of the season, chipped in four points.