Two teams played to a 42-42 tie through regulation; Central Linn owned the extra period and won 51-43.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Culver junior Irma Retano was a force in transition Friday night, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and six steals.They didn't come away with a win, yet the Culver Bulldogs couldn't help but feel a tinge of pride for the close game they produced.

In a 2A girls basketball nonleague game Friday night, Culver, the home team, played Central Linn to a 42-42 stalemate through regulation, before the Cobras stung the Bulldogs in overtime to win 51-43.

The loss dropped Culver to 4-4, while Central Linn moved to 4-1.

As the Bulldogs continue to figure themselves out in the absence of standout point guard Mia Gamboa, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury, they've had to temper expectations somewhat. But they still expect to see progress, whether the end result is a win or a loss.

"We've been struggling a little bit, and they came out and fought," Culver head coach Scott Fritz said. "From where we were two weeks ago when Mia went down … we played a lot better than we did in the last two weeks."

The Bulldogs held slim leads after each of the first three quarters.

A 25-19 halftime edge in favor of Culver was helped by a strong last minute in which Rosi Olivera teed up a 3-pointer from straight on, and Irma Retano stole a couple passes leading to points. The first time, she found Lesli Alvarado, who hit a mid-range jumper, and the second time, Retano drew a foul and hit one of two free throws.

The run was one of a few instances where Culver stymied Central Linn with its press, but it was unable to bring consistent pressure.

"That's our game," Fritz said. "They were successful in the press, they had good guards … we do it in bursts."

The score remained close through the third quarter. With 30 seconds remaining, Alvarado lobbed a precise pass from the far sideline to Retano underneath the basket, which she layed in to give the Bulldogs a 34-30 lead. The Cobras then got a 3-pointer from Shannon Ballengee as the clock expired.

If there was one glaring difference between the two teams, it was Central Linn's outside shooting and Culver's lack thereof. Between Ballengee and Colleen McLaughlin, the Cobras had two legitimate deep threats, while the Bulldogs only attempted two 3-pointers the entire game.

Central Linn's 2-3 zone defense made it difficult for Culver to get clean shots in the post. Although Fritz said Culver has played well against a 2-3 zone in practice, it has yet to fully break through in a game.

"We don't have consistent outside shooters, so we have to design something where we can attack," Fritz said. "What we talk about is, this is going to be open for us (inside), but it's not going to be open on the first time."

McLaughlin hit a triple with 2:38 remaining in the fourth quarter to put Central Linn on top 40-37.

The next few possessions were full of wild sequences.

Retano cleaned up an offensive rebound and drew an and-one on a putback attempt with 1:30 remaining. A technical foul was also assessed to the Central Linn bench on the play, which gave Retano three attempts at the foul line. She hit two of them, giving the Bulldogs a 42-40 lead. Jessica Neal's layup then tied the game at 42 with 38.2 seconds remaining. Neither team was able to break the tie before the buzzer sounded.

Culver scored its only point of the extra period from a made Retano free throw. At the 1:19 mark, she was whistled for her fifth and final foul while trying to corral an offensive rebound.

Retano finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. Elly Bautista chipped in nine points, including five of six makes from the foul line, and three steals.

Culver will play 3A Taft (1-4) on Wednesday at home. The game is slated to tip off at 2:30 p.m.

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