Culver takes step forward, step back
The Culver boys basketball team was equal parts Jekyll and Hyde last week.
A win over Central Christian last Wednesday delivered the Bulldogs some confidence with Columbia Basin Conference play fast approaching. But the following night's result, a 54-49 loss to Madras JV, undid some positive momentum and left a bad taste in the Bulldogs' mouths.
"It's very disappointing, after a great win (Wednesday), to back it up with that," Culver head coach Johnny Wilson said. "The timing of it is unfortunate, because we're heading into league play. We'd love to come in hot, feeling really good about ourselves … We didn't play well enough to win."
One night earlier felt like a world away. Culver's 60-45 win over Central Christian, a 1A team from Redmond, was significant for a couple reasons. It marked the first time since Dec. 22, 2015, that Culver claimed a win over a varsity team. It was also the first time this season that the Bulldogs didn't need a last-second shot to win a game.
Culver led by six to eight points for much of the game, and when the game wore down to the closing stages, Culver didn't let its opponent hang around. The Bulldogs put the game away in the fourth quarter, helped in large part by Weston Basl's 31 points, with Matt Krueger adding 11 points.
"I was really proud of how we executed in the fourth quarter to put the game away," Wilson said. "All the close calls this year have been learning experiences for a game like this. It wasn't perfect by any measure, but it was clear that we had learned from those experiences."
On Thursday night, however, Culver took a step back. Playing a Madras team that likes to push tempo and play a free-flowing game, Culver got caught up trying to match it, and in doing so, went away from playing its own game.
The two teams were deadlocked at 39 entering the fourth quarter. Madras then went on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the final frame, helped in part from a made Jeremiah Devore 3-pointer and putback layup from Treyvon Easterling, giving the Buffs a 48-41 lead.
The Bulldogs twice got to within one point, then tied the score 49-49 all after Basl hit one of two free throws at the 2:10 mark. But Culver was unable to score from that point on, and Madras was able to close the game out from the free-throw line. Neither team shot particularly well from the line. Culver hit 12 of 26, while Madras JV was 15 of 26.
Krueger led the Bulldogs with 21 points, despite sitting out one quarter due to injury, and David Gutierrez added 11 points. For Madras, Cole White led the team with 15 points. Easterling also reach double figures with 11 points. The Buffs' JV squad notched its second win of the season, and did so in front of an evenly-split crowd inside the Culver gymnasium.
"With the support we had here, we felt like we could get the 'W,' and it felt pretty good," White said.
Culver now looks ahead to its CBC schedule, which begins Friday at home against Pilot Rock (9-6).