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  • Val T.

Ortiz takes over, helps Culver beat North Miami

Keller adds 14 in 2nd half as Cavs rally from 6 points down


Sports Editor, RTC

CULVER — For Emiliano Ortiz, it was time to take over.

The Culver boys basketball team had been settling for too many 3-pointers in the first half of their home game against North Miami at John R. Nelson Gymnasium on Dec. 6, according to coach Kyle Evans.

So with Ortiz and teammate Ethan Keller relentlessly driving the ball to the basket, Culver rallied from a six-point second half deficit to beat North Miami 57-47.

Ortiz scored 22 points off the bench to lead Culver, and fellow senior and point guard Keller scored 14, all in the second half.

“I just stopped shooting 3s and just decided to get to the rim,” Ortiz said. “They were just helping off it. … None of us could hit a 3, and we missed like 18 in the first half, so second half, I just got to the rim, and I just took over.”

Evans encouraged Ortiz’s aggressiveness.

“He came off the bench, and there was a point in the second quarter where I just looked at him and said, ‘You’ve got to take over,’” Evans said. “If they’re going to double Shane and we’re going to struggle from the perimeter, you’ve got to get to the paint, and you’ve got to take over. And he just looked at me and gave me that look like, ‘Alright, that means I can go.’ And he did a great job, especially in that second half, attacking baseline going to the rim and making free throws. Really proud of his effort.”

Jake Riley scored 22 points for North Miami. Landen Hunt had 13. Riley and Hunt combined for six 3-pointers while Culver made just one as a team.

Culver improved to 2-2. North Miami fell to 1-3. Culver had lost four of the previous five meetings with North Miami.

Keller found Joey Pizur on a back cut for a bucket with 14 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Cavaliers ahead for good at 37-35.

At the outset of the fourth quarter, with Culver leading by two, Ortiz turned a putback into a 3-point play and then scored on a driving leaner to make it 42-35.

North Miami got back within 45-42 on a post banker from freshman Isaac Floyd, but Ortiz hit two free throws.Keller later found Shane Shuman for a layup to make it 50-43.

Culver’s final seven points came on free throws. That included four from sophomore David Hite in the final 20.6 seconds to close out the scoring.

North Miami led 33-27 after a Riley 3-pointer before Culver went on a 15-2 run covering the third and fourth quarters.

Culver forced 20 turnovers.

Culver scored 38 points in the second half without making a trey.

“I think their chewing they took about chucking 3s, they took a hold of that at halftime,” Evans said. “But I credit North Miami. They had a unique game plan where they just stuck two guys to (Shane) Shuman and pretty much zoned up the back side. Once we cracked it midway through the third quarter, I thought we attacked it well. And then we got the looks we wanted every time. None of those looks were 3s, so that was our emphasis.”

There was also Keller’s strong work. He scored eight straight Culver points at one point in the third quarter.

“It fires us all up,” Ortiz said. “He’s probably the best ballhandler on our team, so he’s got to bring us the energy.”

In the JV game, North Miami prevailed 40-38. Jonas McCuen led Culver with 10 points, Caleb McCuen had nine, Ethan Binion had nine, and Logan Caudill and David Hite had five each.

Culver 57, North Miami 47

NORTH MIAMI (47) (1-3)

Landen Hunt 5 1-4 13, Jake Riley 7 4-7 22, Dolan Blakely 0 1-2 1, Ray Pickett 0 0-0 0, Isaac Floyd 2 2-4 6, Brayden Binnion 2 1-1 5, Preston Wilcox 0 0-2 0

TEAM: 16 9-20 47

CULVER (57) (2-2)

David Hite 0 4-4 4, Ethan Keller 5 4-7 14, Oliver Morgan 1 0-0 2, Joey Pizur 3 1-1 7, Shane Shuman 3 2-3 8, Emiliano Ortiz 8 5-7 22, Jonas McCuen 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 20 16-22 57

Three-point field goals:

North Miami 6 (Riley 4, Hunt 2),

Culver 1 (Ortiz)

Total fouls: North Miami 18, Culver 17

Flagrant foul: Blakely (NM), :20.6, fourth

Fouled out: Morgan (CUL), 2:20, fourth

Turnovers: North Miami 20, Culver 14

Score by quarters

North Miami 11 12 12 12 – 47

Culver 10 9 18 20 – 57

JV: North Miami 40, Culver 38

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