Culver girls basketball preview: Lady Cavs rely on freshmen to start season
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
This is Shane Lowry’s second season as the coach of the Culver girls basketball team, but it might be more of a new team than his first season.
Maddie Shedrow, last year’s team leader in scoring and assists, graduated. The second-leading scorer transferred. The third-leading and fifth-leading scorers did not graduate but are not on this year’s team either.
Still, Lowry said that staff stability will make his job easier.
“The unknown is easier to deal with,” Lowry said. “I lean heavily on my staff. Having coach Brett Berndt as my associate head coach gives me a wealth of experience and knowledge to keep the ship steady. My assistants J.B. Overmyer, Jessica McCuen and Heather Overmyer also bring knowledge and energy to help develop our young talent. I definitely surrounded myself with quality.”
The leading returning scorer is sophomore Grace Sieber, who averaged 3.3 points per game. She might also be Culver’s most experienced returning ballhandler.
And she might be one of the older players on the team. Culver lists more freshmen (five) on their roster than any other grade level.
Lizzie Pugh, whom Lowry calls “a smart, tough girl,” is the only senior. Of the four juniors, only Luci Overmyer has scored more than 10 career points. One of those juniors is Rose Peterson, a move-in from Granger Christian. Look for her to share ballhandling responsibilities with Sieber.
“Rose is a hard-working player,” Lowry said. “Plays with high energy and passion. Looking for big things out of her.”
Kaylee Hamilton, who scored 22 goals for the Culver girls soccer team this fall, is another one of the juniors.
“Kaylee Hamilton is an academic all-state soccer player who brings that soccer toughness to court,” Lowry said.
Avery Garland is a 5-8 forward who is the team’s other sophomore along with Sieber.
“Grace and Avery will be big contributors to our success this year,” Lowry said. “They will have a lot of responsibility for sophomores. They will be big contributors to our overall team success.”
The five freshmen are Ashley Pugh, Brynn Berndt, Kassidy Banks, Livi Overmyer and Amiyah Williams. Williams, who stands 5-9, is the tallest player on the team.
Livi Overmyer is listed as varsity only. The other four freshmen might split time between the JV and varsity.
“We would like for them to continue to grow together,” Lowry said. “The five of them have a love for the game. Each will play a role on the varsity team.”
The challenge might be finding ways to score and doing it more often. Culver went 7-2 when they scored 40 or more points last year but only 1-11 when they scored fewer than 40 points.
There might not be much time for the young players to adapt as Culver plays nine games before Thanksgiving, including games against sectional rivals LaCrosse and Argos and conference rivals Winamac and Pioneer.
“We just want to use all of our minutes and quarters this year to grow,” Lowry said. “We have 15 girls who are all committed to basketball and understand that practice matters. Scoring average will be a challenge, but defense is something (with which) everyone can find success. We need to be smart on the offensive end and limit our mistakes. As long as we take care of possessions and defend, we will beat like talent and compete versus teams who are further along than we are this year.
“Our main goal this year is to grow together. We need to get better every day and live by the idea of one team.”
CULVER LADY CAVALIERS SCHEDULE (JV/VARSITY)
Nov. 4 – at Culver Academy, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 – at Trinity Greenlawn, 2 p.m. (varsity only)
Nov. 9 – vs. LaCrosse, 6:30 p.m./8 p.m.
Nov. 10 – vs. South Central (Union Mills), 5:30 p.m./7 p.m.
Nov. 13 – vs. Westville, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Nov. 16 – at Winamac, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 – at Elkhart Christian, 6 p.m. (varsity only)
Nov. 20 – vs. Pioneer, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 – at Argos, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 – vs. Rochester, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 – vs. Lakeland Christian, 6 p.m. (varsity only)
Dec. 11 – at Knox, 6 p.m. (varsity only)
Dec. 16 – vs. North Judson, 5:30 p.m./7 p.m.
Dec. 17 – at South Bend Career Academy, 6 p.m. (varsity only)
Jan. 6 – vs. Caston, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 – vs. Frontier, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 – vs. Triton, 6 p.m. (varsity only)
Jan. 18-22 – Bi-County Tournament (field includes Argos, Bremen, John Glenn, LaVille, New Prairie, Oregon-Davis, Triton)
Jan. 24 – vs. Covenant Christian (DeMotte), 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 – at West Central, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 – at LaVille, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1-5 – Class 1A, Sectional 50 at Culver
CLASS 1A, SECTIONAL 50
Argos, Culver, LaCrosse, Oregon-Davis, Trinity Greenlawn, Triton, West Central