Culver drops CBC opener to Pilot Rock
Culver couldn't find the bottom of the net during Friday's first half.
With just four field goals through two quarters against Pilot Rock, the Bulldogs found themselves at a disadvantage offensively. They were able to scrape together some free throws here and there, but Pilot Rock matched it and then some.
The Rockets won 57-43, in each team's Columbia Basin Conference opener, helped in large part from a 33-14 edge at halftime.
"We threw up a bunch of bricks and said, 'Wow, we can't shoot. What do we do?'" senior Weston Basl recalled. "We were just lost; had that deer in the headlights look."
Basl, who led Culver with 19 points, hit Culver's first field goal, on a made 3-pointer, with 1 minute, 8 seconds left in the first quarter. He then fired a pass on a pick and roll to Kyler Cox, who banked a shot off the glass to make the score 9-6, in favor of Pilot Rock.
"The first quarter I thought we were fine, we just weren't making shots," Culver head coach Johnny Wilson said. "I think after a while, that (negative) thought starts to creep in, and it just gets worse. I thought we looked pretty timid."
Culver started racking up fouls in the second quarter and sent Pilot rock to the line on three straight possessions. The Rockets were a perfect 6 for 6 during the stretch, and increased its lead to 18-6 as a result.
Without making field goals, Culver was seldom able to apply its backcourt pressure. Pilot Rock controlled the game from its halfcourt possessions as a result. Chris Weinke and Bryson Pierce did a majority of the damage for Pilot Rock, scoring 23 and 19 points, respectively.
Though Culver was at a loss to find consistent offense, Basl caught fire late, nearly willing the Bulldogs back into the game. Basl knocked down three deep balls on consecutive possessions midway through the fourth quarter, and hit another 3-pointer at the 2:18 mark. Pilot Rock, however, kept Culver from coming back by making six of eight free throws down the stretch.
Another bright spot was Cord Flynn, who scored five points in a 30-second span during the third quarter. He converted a 3-point play, and on the next possesion rolled to the basket for an easy layup.
"We've just been waiting for the opportunity to get him out there," Wilson said, noting his return from injury. "He came in and did an excellent job."
Going into Friday's contest, Pilot Rock was the only CBC team with a record above .500, and also the No. 11-ranked team in 2A. But the Bulldogs thought back to last year, when they nearly beat Pilot Rock on the road, ultimately losing 45-39 on Jan. 27.
"There's no reason we can't compete with that team," Wilson said. "We just got off to a bad start and let that affect us."
Perhaps Pilot Rock is the early favorite to win the CBC, but among remaining teams, which have combined for a 22-38 on the season so far, none have proven themselves yet. That gives the Bulldogs reason for confidence, even after Friday's defeat.
"We really feel like we can play with anybody in this league," Basl said. "It's really anybody's to take."
Playing Stanfield on the road Saturday, Culver very nearly picked up its first CBC win since joining the league in 2014.
The Bulldogs led by three points at the 2-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but Stanfield then proceeded to grab a 3-point lead of its own. That left Culver with one last-ditch possession to send the game into overtime.
Basl did just that, hitting a deep, fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer.
In the extra period, however, Wilson said Culver's inability to grab defensive rebounds hurt its chances of scoring. Stanfield won 54-47. Basl scored 22 points; Matt Krueger added 12.
"We're obviously disappointed in the result, but we continue to give ourselves opportunities to win and there's not a guy in this program who doesn't believe what we're doing," he said. "This group is very resilient and I know that one of these days we are going to break through."
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