By Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
To say it was a bad night for the Winamac’s boys basketball team would be an understatement.
The Warriors played host to the Culver Cavaliers Tuesday night and were never in this one in a 58-41 loss.
The Warriors knotted the game at 2-2, and then the wheels came off and they found themselves in a hole they could never get out of. Appearing out of sync offensively and not hitting shots, to giving up points off turnovers and second chances to the taller Cavaliers, Winamac stalled and would not put up another point in the quarter. Culver finished the quarter on a 15-0 run to make it 17-2 after one quarter of play.
Another downside to the first half was an over abundance of fouls called against the Warriors. By the midway part of the opening quarter, Parker Fox and Levi Schultz each went to the bench with two fouls each and were followed by Evan Rose picking up his second at the :47 mark.
“Ours kids go at it hard, on both ends of the floor, and I like that about them. I just have to do a better job at practice of toughening them up mentally in handling the low spots in games,” said Winamac coach Kyle Johnson.
The second quarter mirrored the first for Winamac as fouls continued to mount forcing Johnson deeper into his young bench. A 3-pointer by J.T. Garnett at the 7:37 mark were the first Winamac points in nearly a quarter. Defensive pressure was still being applied by Culver and Winamac continued having trouble scoring.
Meanwhile, the Cavs kept things going on the offensive end and continued getting to the line. By halftime Culver had outscored Winamac at the line 12-0 and had been whistled for five late fouls while 13 had been pinned on the Warriors. Going into the break the Warriors found themselves on the losing end of a 37-12 score.
After the break the young Warriors picked up the intensity and started to make things happen on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, they continued to be hampered by fouls. With just 1:43 gone in the third Winamac was called for its fourth of the second half. But the added pressure slowed the Cavs and Winamac began to chip away at the big lead.
When reserve Adam Gruening hit his second 3-pointer of the game at the buzzer, Winamac was making a run but still trailing 43-29.
“My teammates set some good screens for me. Then I just tried to find the gaps and was able to hit my shots,” said Gruening.
Turnovers and fouls continued for the Warriors in the final quarter. A basket by Zach Shidler with 5:12 to play pulled Winamac to within 45-33. A Culver turnover gave the Warriors a chance to cut into the lead even further but the Cavs began hitting their shots again, along with free throws to pull away for the 58-41 win.
A bright spot for the Warriors was the minutes given by the bench. With most of the starters saddled with foul trouble, the reserves had to play a lot of minutes. Numerous sophomores made it onto the floor for Winamac with Dalton Button, Jeff Nies and Gruening playing significant roles. Gruening led the way for Winamac on the night with 12 points on four 3-pointers. Parker Fox added 10 points of his own.
Winamac (1-3) shot just 37 percent from the field on the night on 15-of-41 shooting while hitting 3 of 7 free throws. When it was over the Warriors were called for 26 fouls while Culver committed 16.
“I just don’t feel we were near as aggressive as we needed to be. The kids play extremely hard, we’ve just got to get them to play that way without fouling like we did,” said Johnson.
Culver was 72 percent from the line hitting on 23 of 32. The Cavs outrebounded Winamac 30-17.
Culver (5-1) was led by Collin Stevens with 17 points and Trent Elliot with 13.