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Top players return for Culver boys basketball; new coach John Spinelli focusing on efficieny, offense.

STEELE HAUGEN - New Culver basketball head coach John Spinelli teaches his team a dribbling drill. Culver has a home game at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 against La Pine.
The Culver basketball program has a new coach, John Spinelli. With this new coach come talented returners for the Bulldogs this upcoming season.

"I am excited about the team this year," John Spinelli said. "I think we have a shot to be pretty competitive in our league. We have a lot of returning players coming back from last year. I think if we can just learn to play together, not turn the ball over, run our offense, we should be in good shape."

"Culver has not been what you would call a basketball powerhouse in recent years, and so my goals are to get double-digit wins, double our league win total, be competitive every game because in the past there has been some not so competitive teams, especially against the top tier ones." he said. "I don't want any blowouts, represent (Culver) and play basketball the right way. Obviously we are not going to win every game and won't be favored much in our league, so just be competitive and put a good product out on the court."

STEELE HAUGEN - Jordan VanAlstyne practices a dribbling drill.
John Spinelli played college basketball in Southern California and also coached at the high school level for six years before heading to Culver. He coached Culver middle school teams for around 12 years and was a volunteer assistant for the Bulldogs last year before taking the head job this season.

Culver was led by sharp shooting point guard Luke Spinelli, athletic post player Cord Gomes and all-around player and leader Jordan VanAlstyne.

"Our three top scorers from last year are back, which is good news," John Spinelli said. "The bad news is, we were 3-21 last year. Cord Gomes will be our top guy in the post, Luke Spinelli and Jordan VanAlstyne will be our top two guys on the perimeter. We will lean on them for leadership, scoring and all around good play."

"We have a freshman and sophomore coming up," he said. "Logan Macy is a freshman, and he will provide a spark for us off the bench. He is probably our best pure shooter, so we will look to him to be a zone buster and hit some shots. His brother Brayden is a sophomore, and he played mostly junior varsity last year with a little varsity experience. We are looking for him to provide some scoring depth while backing up our point guard and wing positions as well."

STEELE HAUGEN - Luke Spinelli receives a pass from a teammate. VanAlstyne and Spinelli were top scorers for the Bulldogs last season.The Bulldogs ended the season with a 3-21 overall record and a 3-13 league record. It was the most league wins since the 2012-13 season.

"I like our team," VanAlstyne said. "We have a new coach and we're excited. Our goals haven't changed much, just keep improving, make a bunch of memories. Win a state championship is always a goal, too, I guess. We have been working a lot of fundamentals, getting the basics down and trying to perfect it. I feel like coming together as a team, like we did with football, will be a big key this season. If we come together as a team, play well together, we will have a good season."

The team and coach Spinelli are working hard on controlling the ball and making sure each shot is efficient and in the right place.

"We are really drilling the guys on having an efficient offense," said John Spinelli. "We are going to be very precise. The team will have six different offensive sets for man defense, three or four sets of offense for zone. We are not a team that is just going to outplay you basketballwise and talentwise, so we need to be efficient, disciplined, organized and know where to go with the ball. The big thing for us last year was turnovers, so we need to get those down. We have a lot of different sets, and we are going to do our best to execute those sets and get the ball in the right people's hands to shoot the ball in the right spots."

The Bulldogs have their season opener at home against La Pine at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. After a couple tournaments, they return home Dc. 18 to face Kennedy.

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