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by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Culver post John Slaght (white jersey) tries to throw a pass out of the paint during Monday's 47-43 win against Santiam at Culver High School. Bulldogs hang on against Santiam, pick up 47-43 win

A look of joy and relief couldn’t be wiped off the faces of players on the Culver High School boys basketball team Monday night.

The Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season, after fending off pesky Santiam, 47-43 in Tri-River Conference action at Culver High School.

Officially, the Bulldogs were credited with a forfeit win when the Ridgeview junior varsity team didn’t show up for the first game of a tournament earlier in the season, but getting an outright win on the floor was something head coach Brennan Whitaker thoroughly enjoyed.

“It’s just the culmination of what we have been working on the past five weeks,” Whitaker said. “We dictated the tempo and got the shots we wanted, which was really the first time we’ve been able to do that all season.”

Culver went into the fourth quarter with a 35-28 lead, and the Wolverines came out with reckless abandon, applying full court pressure to the Bulldogs nearly the entire frame.

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Culver forward Adam Knepp (white jersey) tries to drive around Santiam's Riley Nicot during the Bulldogs' 47-43 win against the Wolverines during a Tri-River Conference boys basketball game on Monday at Culver High School.
Knepp led all scorers with 16 points, and also led all players with 15 rebounds
While it worked to some degree for the Wolverines, Culver was able to weather the furious defenders and make buckets when they needed to.

Jon Slaught had two crucial buckets for the Bulldogs in the fourth, each keeping Culver’s advantage at seven points. Santiam drew within four points midway through, but Culver made enough free throws down the stretch to earn the win.

Culver’s Adam Knepp had a huge night, registering a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Knepp score eight of his 16 points in the third period to help the Bulldogs build on their 22-19 halftime lead.

“He was just in beast mode out there,” Whitaker said of Knepp. “At the start of the season, I would have expected him to get around six or seven rebounds a game. He has really stepped in and helped us out on the glass.”

During the past six games, Knepp has hauled in 10 or more rebounds every night, and even threw in a 20-rebound performance in a game last week against Waldport.

Tom McDonald hit key free throws down the stretch for the Bulldogs, and finished with 13 points. Slaght chipped in 10 to help the cause for Culver.

Early on, Culver’s Tristan Bogart provided a bit of a jump start to the offense after he canned a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. While those were his only points of the game, it was enough to give the Bulldogs a 16-11 lead after the first quarter and help bridge the gap when both teams weren’t good offensively in the second frame.

Culver scored just six points in the second quarter, but Santiam managed just eight, which Whitaker was pleased with considering the Bulldogs were in foul trouble.

“We have to learn to play with foul trouble, and I was glad to see how we were able to maintain while we were struggling on offense,” Whitaker said. “We could have easily went down eight or 10 points, but we hung in there.”

Culver (2-10, 1-4 TRC) will take on Toledo at home on Wednesday. The Boomers (6-7, 3-2 TRC) are the No. 6 team in the latest Class 2A boys basketball coaches poll.

Bulldogs edged out by Irish

Culver narrowly missed picking up their first win of the year against the Irish on Jan. 8 in Culver.

Knepp scored 11 points to go with his huge night on the glass, and Slaght poured in a game-high 17 points for the Bulldogs.

Culver led the game with under two minutes to go, but Whitaker said the Bulldogs turned the ball over too many times down the stretch and couldn’t hang on to the win.

The Bulldogs also fell to Kennedy on Friday, 67-41.

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