Argos goes zone, beats Culver for 9th straight time
Stults’ 3-point play triggers game-closing 11-2 run in Bell triumph
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
CULVER –- The Culver boys basketball team’s culture has tilted towards defense so much that the loudest applause the home crowd provided in their annual Bell game against Argos at John R. Nelson Gymnasium Thursday was for when it was announced that senior Braxton Conley had broken the single-season record for charges taken.
But having said that, Argos plays pretty good defense too. Perhaps more well known for their man-to-man defense under coach Gordon Mosson, they showed they can play a 2-3 zone as well.
And with help from that zone and timely points from Jake Stults and Teddy Redinger, the Dragons beat Culver 42-32 and won the Bell for the fifth straight year.
Redinger and Dylan Kindig scored 10 points each, and Michael Richard had nine.
But it was Stults, who did not score in the first three quarters, who converted a 3-point play after a driving Eurostep banker with 3:16 left that triggered a game-ending 11-2 run after Culver had closed to within 31-30 with 4:53 left.
Jalen King scored a game-high 14 for Culver (6-10). Owen Clingler had 11 before fouling out with 2:31 left.
Argos (12-4) has won the last nine meetings against the Cavaliers, which includes Bell games, Bi-County Tournament games and sectional games. The last eight wins have been by double-digit margins. Argos also beat Culver 55-29 on Jan. 22 in a Bi-County consolation game.
No player on the current Argos roster has lost to Culver during their time in high school.
Argos has also won four straight overall heading into a home Hoosier Plains tilt against Lakeland Christian Saturday.
They survived this game even though Richard and J.J. Morris, Argos’ top two scorers who combine for 25 points per game, were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Stults and Redinger picked up the slack, combining for nine of Argos’ 11 fourth quarter points.
Argos committed 20 turnovers against Culver’s harassing pressure defense, including eight in the fourth quarter. But they offset that by making 16 of 19 free throws.
It was the zone, though, that limited Culver to one field goal in the final 4:53.
“We played about four minutes tonight,” Mosson said. “We’ve played a little bit. I don’t know. It’s probably less than 10 percent, but we’ve played a little bit. They struggled against it. That gave us a boost and really probably allowed us to extend the lead. I think the kids kinda liked playing it. We may see some more as the season goes on.”
Culver coach Kyle Evans said his team is not known for its outside shooting, which makes it susceptible to zones.
“With Clingler out, it was a great adjustment because we don’t really have any other shooters from outside about 12 to 15 feet,” Evans said. “That was a nice adjustment by Coach, but when you don't have perimeter shooters, it’s tough when you’re trying to squeeze it in.”
Playing with four fouls, Clingler came back in the game to start the fourth quarter and Culver trailing 31-24.
They scored the first six points and cut the lead to one on two King free throws with 4:53 left.
Kindig missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4:21 left, and Culver had a chance for the lead, but Morris blocked a Clingler 3-point try out of bounds.
Culver called timeout and used over 30 seconds off the clock. Clingler dribbled toward the baseline and ran out of room and tried to kick it back out, but Stults stole the ball.
He drove down and collided with Culver’s Marquez Anderson and put in a five-foot banker while Anderson was called for a blocking foul. Stults completed the 3-point play.
“I was going for the fake, making him think I was going to pass,” Stults said. “But then he didn’t go for it, so I just gave him a little shoulder bump and went up with the ball, and they called a foul.”
Redinger then hit four of six free throws to get the lead to 38-30.
A King transition bucket after a Shane Shuman steal cut the lead to six, but Stults and Kindig combined to go four for four from the foul line in the final 30.8 seconds.
“They’re a neighboring town really, and all of us really know each other on the floor,” Stults said. “Even though our coaches don’t really think so, we all know each other. It’s fun because we’re out there talking to each other. … It’s just been a rivalry. All of our students, the fans, they were talking about the game before. They were looking forward to it all season.”
Evans, who went 1-1 as a player in Bell games when he played for Argos from 2003-05, is already looking ahead.
“It’s awesome,” Evans quipped. “I love it. Now I’m on the right side of things. Make sure you tell my administration that. It’s really fun. I told Coach Mosson I love playing against his teams, but I hate it at the same time. Because they’re just so solid, they’re so disciplined, they’re tough to beat always. It’s fun to be back in this Bell game, and I’m looking forward to next year’s already.”
Argos led 16-8 at one point in the second quarter after two straight Richard 3-pointers, but Culver got back within 21-19 at halftime on a King driving banker at the buzzer.
Five straight King points in the third quarter gave Culver their first lead of the second half at 24-23.
Morris responded with six straight points, all with Richard on the bench after picking up his third foul. When Kayden Brady drove down the pipe for a layup, Argos led by seven going into the fourth.
Clingler came back in and scored on a steal and layup, and when sophomore guard Ethan Keller converted another steal into a bucket and King hit two free throws, the Bell game appeared headed for a tight finish.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of keeping our composure,” Mosson said. “We’ve got a couple kids that react to things that they shouldn’t react to. That’s something we work on every night. I’m not talking about basic passes. I’m talking about competitive passing drills, and that’s been our bugaboo all year.”
Argos 42, Culver 32
ARGOS (42) (12-4)
Michael Richard 2 3-3 9, Jake Stults 1 3-3 5, J.J. Morris 2 2-2 6, Teddy Redinger 2 4-6 10, Dylan Kindig 3 4-5 10, Caden Nifong 0 0-0 0, Kayden Brady 1 0-0 2, Sean Richard 0 0-0 0, Zak Heiman 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 11 16-19 42
CULVER (32) (6-10)
Owen Clingler 5 0-0 11, Emiliano Ortiz 1 1-2 3, Jalen King 5 2-2 14, Braxton Conley 0 0-0 0, Marquez Anderson 0 0-0 0, Cameron Minix 0 0-0 0, Auston Zehner 1 0-0 2, Ethan Keller 1 0-0 2, Shane Shuman 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 13 3-4 32
Three-point field goals:
Argos 4 (Redinger 2, M. Richard 2),
Culver 3 (King 2, Clingler)
Total fouls: Argos 9, Culver 18
Fouled out: Clingler (CUL), 2:31, fourth
Turnovers: Argos 20, Culver 16
Score by quarters
Argos 10 11 10 11 – 42
Culver 8 11 5 8 – 32
JV: Culver 52, Argos 29
The Argos boys basketball team poses with the Bell following their 42-32 win over Culver Thursday. Argos has won five straight Bell games and nine straight games against Culver overall. The Dragons (12-4) will host Lakeland Christian Saturday night. (photo provided by Lisa Stults)