Culver Lady Dawgs basketball team holds two teams under four points in a quarter.

STEELE HAUGEN - Anyla Rico looks to make a pass in the Bulldogs offense.The Culver Lady Dawgs won both their games this week with the exact same score, 55-27.

The Lady Dawgs played two teams that were bigger in classification, in Sisters (4A) and Taft (3A), but Culver used their defense to hold both opposing teams to only 2 points in one quarter of play.

Culver played Taft on Dec. 20, and the pressure on defense, with the combination of good ball movement, was too much for the Tigers. Irma Retano was able to get a steal and lay the ball up to start the game off.

Retano also drove to the hoop from the high post, giving the Lady Dawgs an early 4-0 lead. Taft responded with a lay-in of their own, but on the next Culver possession, their offense used incredible ball movement, swinging the ball all the way to Retano, who nailed a corner three.

With around one minute left in the first quarter Taft called a timeout to try to close the scoring gap. Mia Gamboa hit a pair of free throws, followed by a Retano floater. Before the end of the first quarter, Gamboa was able to hit a floater herself and the Lady Dawgs went into the second quarter with a 14-2 lead, holding the Tigers to 2 points in the first quarter.

In the second, Gamboa scored 6 points in a row for Culver, hitting four free throws and using her touch to make another floater. The Lady Dawgs had a dominating 20-4 lead halfway through the quarter. Retano passed the ball to Kiana Webb, who made a mid-range jumpshot and later a Gamboa steal led to a fast break lay-in for Nena Mendoza.

Retano was able to use her athletic ability to get a steal and grabbed an offensive rebound, cleaning up around the rim for a basket. At the end of the quarter, Taft was able to go on a small 6-0 run and the Lady Dawgs went into halftime with a 27-10 lead. Retano had 12 points at the halfway mark and Gamboa was right behind her with 10 points.

The Tigers hit two jumpshots in a row to start the third quarter and Taft was closing in on the Lady Dawgs, who led 27-16.

The Tigers' run was ended by a Mendoza jumper and later, Gamboa would sneak past the defense on a fast break. Retano hit a baseline jumper and than assisted Gamboa with another fast- break score. On the next possession, Retano hit a jump shot from the high post and the Lady Dawgs took a 37-16 lead.

The Tigers ended the Lady Dawgs' run with a fast break of their own, but a Retano steal led to a lay-in and later, Kiana Webb scored on another fast-break opportunity. Culver ended the third quarter with a commanding 42-18 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Retano hit four out of five free throws and made another lay-in off a steal. Gamboa showed her range by sinking a deep three and the Lady Dawgs beat the 3A Taft Tigers 55-27.

Retano recorded another triple double with 25 points, 10 rebounds and an outstanding 16 steals. Gamboa showed her offensive presence with 17 points, going 6-for-6 at the line and recording six steals.

The Lady Dawgs were able to grab 30 steals and 27 rebounds in the game. They also shot the ball 72 percent from the stripe.

STEELE HAUGEN - Irma Retano steals the pull and breaks free for a lay-in during the Lady Dawgs 55-27 win over Taft on Dec. 20.

Lady Dawgs beat 4A Outlaws

Culver also played 4A Sisters at home and also beat the Outlaws 55-27. The start of the game was very close, but the non-stop pressure and defense was too much for the Outlaws.

Retano stole the ball to start the game and used a jump stop to create an open shot. A lay-in and jumper gave Sisters a 4-2 lead over the Lady Dawgs, but a jumper by Mendoza tied the game back up.

Retano stole the ball off their press and laid the ball in. Later, she would score on a finger roll, giving Culver an 8-7 lead. Another steal and tough drive to the hoop was made by Retano, followed by a Mikayla Haessler jump shot.

The Culver Lady Dawgs ended the first quarter with a 14-8 lead.

Offensive rebounds by Madison Miller and Haessler led to an open jumper made by Retano to start the second quarter. A timeout by the Outlaws with six minutes left in the game was called to try to stop the fast pace by Culver.

The press put on by the Lady Dawgs led to a steal and lay-in by Gamboa and she later scored on a drive to the hoop, giving Culver a 21-8 lead. Retano found an open Miller under the basket and the next possession, the Lady Dawgs moved the ball around fast and found a cutting Retano for a score.

Retano leaped for a rebound and putback right before halftime and Culver went into the locker room with a 29-10 lead. Retano recorded 17 points at the half and the Lady Dawgs again were able to hold a team to scoring only 2 points in a quarter.

"I think we know that we don't allow teams to run their offense because of our press," Gamboa said. "We are also able to get a lot of points on pressure and knowing that makes us go really hard in our press."

STEELE HAUGEN - Kiana Webb takes a shot during Culvers' 55-27 win over 4A Sisters on Dec. 19."I think it is that mentality and athleticism," head coach Scott Fritz said about his full-court press success. "I have had athletic teams before and we have tried to press, they just didn't have that mentality and this group does. They just feed off of it. When we are successful with our press, it opens up free throws and open shots for us. We worked more on on-ball defense and denying the ball and it is showing."

To start the third quarter, the Sisters Outlaws decided to full-court press the Lady Dawgs. Retano hit a high post jumper and later, easily broke the Outlaws' press for an open lane to the hoop.

"I love when teams try to press us," Fritz said. "I was praying they would put their press on us because we are just way too quick and athletic. We are able to get easy baskets off any press."

Culver went on a 16-0 run to end the third quarter, with a combination of five different Lady Dawgs scoring. Culver went into the fourth quarter with a huge 49-15 lead.

"That comes with a lot of transition," said Gamboa about passing the ball around on offense. "We can always get a dish and we can be able to drive to the hoop and kick it out. That is not something we really practice, it just kind of comes to us."

Culver put their secondary group in for the final quarter of play and defeated the 4A Sisters Outlaws 55-27.

Retano led the way for Culver with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven steals. Miller was able to use her height to score 12 points and grab five rebounds and Gamboa notched 8 points.

"For them to be face-guarding Irma and I, I think we did a really good job," said Gamboa. "Kiana (Webb) really stepped up when I was not able to get the ball. There was some moments where we had bad passes, but we bounced back from that and did a really good job."

"That was a pretty athletic team really, so I told them, let's see how they handle pressure and the pressure really got to them," Fritz said. "Prior to the game, I told them, we will win this game on defense, transition and press. I think our defense really clamped down and is getting better, especially Mikayla Haessler."

"We need to be a little smarter and can't get in foul trouble," Fritz said. "They need to know when they have three fouls, they cannot get frustrated and get a silly foul like tonight. We have too many important players that we can't afford to sit on the bench, especially if it is a close game. That is something we need to fix."

The Lady Dawgs have two away games in January, one of them, a tough game against No. 1 ranked Kennedy on Jan. 7. They return to Culver for a home game against Santiam on Jan. 9, at 4:30 p.m.

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