>   Bulldogs get things rolling on the court
   With 22 ballplayers between varsity and JV teams, Culver boys basketball comes back to the court looking to be right in the mix of things. Under the direction of a new coach and returning three of five starters from last year, the Bulldogs have been reestablishing themselves and pose to be tough competition.
   Culver head coach James Macy, a Culver native and once a Bulldog himself, takes up coaching duties this year. Macy, who has coached other sports at Culver and helped out with the boys basketball team in previous years, was the assistant basketball coach at North Marion two years ago and also played at George Fox University in Newberg. With his knowledge of the game, Macy hopes to build a better team.
   "I'm excited about what we have this year," noted Macy. "We're definitely in the building process, but we're getting used to each other."
   Returning to the court with varsity experience are junior point guard Kyle Blood, wing and post player Josh O'Gorman, also a junior, and Jared Roen, who will start as point guard for the Bulldogs. With the returning three, Coach Macy noted the significance in having them back, as they are essential to establishing a winning team.
   "They will offer leadership and experience. Kyle (Blood) is going to be essential for our team and a leader on the court. Josh (O'Gorman) will also have a good year, I think. He's been playing pretty well," said Macy.
   While the Bulldogs lost Nate Lewis last year, an offensive powerhouse on the court, Coach Macy notes that without Lewis, as well as Casey Boyd, Culver will look to spread the ball more evenly this year.
   "Nate (Lewis) was a big part of the shooting last year. We're more apt to play as a team and I think the guys understand that. It's going to take more than one person to put the ball in the hoop," noted Macy.
   Also joining the Bulldogs, are senior wing players Maury Rhoan and Alex Towell. Juniors Erik Bodo, a post players, and point guard Delray Rhoan, as well as sophomore wing and post player Andrew Hansen round out the varsity team for Culver, adding variety and talent to the mix. With the team a whole, the Bulldogs look to be strong offensively, where Coach Macy hopes the combination of players will form a solid squad.
   "We work hard offensively, and we can score fairly well. We also have some pretty good height and I think that can be to our advantage. We also have a great attitude. Everybody wants to play basketball," said Macy. "Our weakness is our team defense. We have to improve our defensive play."
   The Bulldogs have been working to fine-tune those skills. Throughout the summer and off-season, the team played in a summer league and participated in a basketball camp, in hopes that the extra experience will help the team reach its ultimate goal -- the postseason.
   Last year, the Bulldogs went to district, but fell short with a loss to Pilot Rock, which denied Culver a berth to the Class 2A state playoffs. This year, Coach Macy plans to change things around.
   "Our main goal is to make the playoffs and I think it's a feasible goals with this team. We also want to improve as a team and we want to be on of the top three teams in our league," noted Macy.
   To kick things off for the Bulldogs, Culver opens the season against Grant Union in John Day on Thursday, and then will head to Prairie City for a weekend tournament. With the season on the verge of beginning, Coach Macy is nothing but optimistic for the Bulldogs.
   "We are looking good. We'll have to play our best game every night. It's going to be pretty competitive. I think teams are pretty equal and I think we'll be right in the mix of Columbia Basin Conference play," added Macy.
   While Culver faced Grant Union yesterday to open the basketball season, results of the game were not available at press time.
   The Bulldogs play host to Mountain View JV this Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m., before heading to Prairie City for a tournament this weekend.
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