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Culver Bulldogs basketball team loses to La Pine, Central Christian, Sherman to start season off.

STEELE HAUGEN - Jaxon Maxwell, 33, and Kody Read attempt to block a shot during the Bulldogs' 66-37 loss to La Pine Dec. 4.The Culver boys basketball program has three losses to start the season, falling to La Pine 66-37, Central Christian 50-30 and Sherman 60-56.

In the season opener against a very tough 3A La Pine team Dec. 4, the Bulldogs came out slow, down 34-17 at halftime.

Luke Spinelli was able to knock down some 3-point shots and drive to the rim, allowing him to score at the basket or draw a foul, but La Pine was just as strong on offense.

The Hawks were able to use effective shooting to defeat Culver 66-37.

Luke Spinelli led the team in scoring with 14 points, while also recording three steals. Cord Gomes added nine points and three steals for Culver. Jordan VanAlstyne led the team in rebounds with four and added six points and three assists to help the Bulldogs.

Central Christian loss

Culver traveled to Sherman County High School for a tournament Dec. 6-7, playing Central Christian in their first game.

The Bulldogs had a tough time stopping Central Christian on offense and several different zone defenses led to a poor shooting night for Culver.

"They were a tough team," head coach John Spinelli said. "They had two really good players, a 6-foot-6- inch post and a good point guard, who was quick and can shoot. Those two dominated the game and scored about 85% of their points. They had a good effective zone and we had a tough night shooting. That was the story of that game, we shot 35% from the field. We had some good looks, just couldn't knock them down. The zones caused a little bit of confusion, but it was mostly just not converting on shots. We had wide open shots, just could not hit them."

Spinelli scored nine points for Culver, while Gomes added eight points for the Bulldogs.

Sherman escapes Culver

Culver faced Sherman next and battled all the way to the finish. The Bulldogs, however, got to the point at the end of the game where they were forced to foul Sherman, and the boys from the Moro school were able to make the free throws count.

Culver was able to shoot the ball very well, shooting over 50% from the field. The Bulldogs were 19-34 shooting, 5-7 from behind the arc. This was the first team that played man-to-man defense against the Bulldogs this season, which allowed Culver to run more of their offensive sets.

"That was by far our best shooting performance of the year," Spinelli said. "We were winning most of the first half, but with around a minute left, there was a foul and a technical foul, which led to four straight free throws. That was kind of a turning point, being up two, to being like down by four."

Culver and Sherman battled to the end and the Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to two points with eight seconds left, but Sherman made their free throws to seal the game.

"We were pretty good with the ball, only having 10 turnovers, which for us is pretty good," said Spinelli. "The big thing with the game was, we were outrebounded and our defense wasn't as tough as it needed to be. When we score 56 points, we should win that game. They had two big 6-4 posts that were just able to control the boards and shoot over us. We need to do a better job on defense and do a better job on that side of the court."

"I was pleased with how we executed on offense," he said. "We still have a lot of room for growth, but it was good to see the kids have success against man defense. We didn't shoot a lot of 3-pointers because that wasn't our focus, but we shot a good percentage."

Spinelli shot the ball incredibly well for Culver, scoring 25 points, shooting 10-17 from the field, 2-3 from the 3-point line. Van-Alstyne added 15 points and three steals, while Logan Macy hit three 3-pointers, scoring 11 points and five assists.

Culver travels to Lost River for a tournament Dec. 13-14 and then hosts the Kennedy Trojans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18.

"We are going to work on boxing out, rebounding, just putting more pressure on defense," said Spinelli. "We weren't very effective with our press and so we need to better a job with that. The team needs to work on press break as well because teams will press us this week."

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