CHS girls beat Central Linn, Waldport to hold sixth place

Culver High School girls basketball coach Scott Fritz knew he could get one win out of two games during the fifth week of Tri-River Conference play.

The other game was against the three-time defending state champions.

The Bulldogs picked up a critical 36-32 victory Jan. 21 against Central Linn in Halsey, but then met mighty Regis at home on Friday and lost 75-26.

As the standings read Tuesday before another night of TRC action, three teams — Culver, Central Linn and East Linn Christian — are battling for the No. 5 and 6 spots in the conference tournament. Fritz said the ideal spot for his team would be the No. 5 position, since that entails a home game in the first round, but they’ve got a little work to do.

Before Tuesday’s game, Culver was in sixth with a 3-6 TRC record with East Linn Christian in fifth at 5-4. Central Linn is on the outside looking in at 2-6.

“It was pretty important to win there as far as playoff positioning goes,” Fritz said. “If we would have lost, we would have had a pretty tough road to get there.”

Culver took over in the fourth quarter against the Cobras en route to the win. Fritz said his club was struggling a little bit to open the final frame, but then a trio of buckets came from Alysha Fritz, Andrea Retano and Hannah Lewis to allow the Bulldogs to seize control of the game.

Culver was also solid at the foul line in the fourth quarter, connecting on six of nine attempts to keep the Cobras at bay.

“We made a lot of plays down the stretch that helped us out,” Coach Fritz said. “We were able to handle their press well, too. Everybody did something to pitch in.”

That has been something the Bulldogs have had issues with earlier in the season — handling a full-court pressure defense — but the squad was able to solve Central Linn’s 1-2-2 zone press and get into a half-court offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Emma Hoke was a menace with nine steals to lead the Bulldogs. Freshman Jessica Johnson, who played most of the game due to Retano’s early foul trouble, hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.

Against the three-time defending 2A champion Rams, Fritz said the Rams showed why they’ve been able to dominate the classification for so long.

“We couldn’t get into our offense, and Regis couldn’t miss,” Fritz said. “Most of the shots they took were contested, and they still went in.”

Regis drained nine 3-pointers, and guard Becca Lorenz had five of them.

Moving forward, Fritz said his team needs to protect its home floor and pick up the wins he knows his team can get.

The schedule for Culver sets up a big last week of the season. The Bulldogs will close the TRC docket with three games in a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — against Toledo, East Linn Christian and Central Linn. If Culver is to run the table during the week, that should be enough for them to finish in fifth place and earn a home playoff game.

“Our job the rest of the season is to take care of things we need to,” Fritz said. “If we can get through the last week of the season with wins, we should be sitting in pretty good shape.”

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