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Smith, Kroft lead Winamac to Hoosier North road win over Culver

Shedrow scores 18, Binkley 10 in Culver’s first game in over 3 weeks


Sports Editor, RTC

CULVER –- Winamac girls basketball senior Maggie Smith worked on her jump shot since the end of last season, and her work is paying off now.

Maggie Smith

Smith scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the first half, and Kingsley Kroft added 12 for the visiting Lady Warriors in a 42-35 win over Culver Saturday.

Culver took their only lead at 15-14 on a Maddie Shedrow 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:52 left in the half.

Winamac answered with a 10-0 run covering the second and third quarters, and they never trailed again.

Winamac improved to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in the Hoosier North. Culver, who was playing for the first time in 25 days, dropped to 4-4, 0-2.

Winamac led 31-26 after three quarters, and Culver hung within 33-28 on a Kenzie Banks 12-foot banker in the lane with 5:55 left.

Winamac then went on an 8-0 run. Freshman Piper Link scored on a putback, Kroft hit two free throws, Alyssa Villanueva scored on a backdoor cut off a sharp Kroft assist, and Ella Gearhart hit two free throws to give Winamac their biggest lead at 41-28 with 1:21 left.

Shedrow scored 18 points, and Baleigh Binkley added 10 points for the Lady Cavs. Binkley also had the defensive assignment on Kroft. Culver at times played a box-in-one on Kroft and even a triangle-in-two with Smith and Kroft seeing man coverage and the other three Culver defenders in a zone.

Winamac coach Kole Kroft said it was the first time he had seen an opponent play a triangle-in-two this season. Culver coach Shane Lowry said it was the first time he had used it. Coach Kroft wants the other three players to step up if Kingsley Kroft and Smith are getting extra defensive attention.

“We just didn’t play very fundamental and sound,” coach Kroft said. “It’s a good thing for us because Kingsley’s going to get a box-in-one, and they went to a triangle-in-two there against Maggie. So for our girls not to step up and want to take those shots, we’re going to have to work on that because I don’t know about you but if I’m playing basketball and somebody’s going to give me a wide-open shot, I’m going to take it. So we’ve got to get them some confidence.”

Lowry said they had played “a little bit” of box-in-one in a game against Pioneer. They hadn’t even had time to practice the triangle-in-two as they prepared to face Winamac.

“We didn’t have enough time to go over it in our scout today or our practice today,” Lowry said. “But very pleased with effort. That’s the first thing I said in the locker room tonight: Hery, dedication, heart, desire. That’s what this game is going to be about. I know you’re going to be tired, but play with your heart and play with a little desire. And they did that.

“That has been the best game so far of just getting full effort out of the girls. I’m very proud of that.”

Smith, a 6-0 post player and Winamac’s all-time leading rebounder, hit two long 2-point baskets in the first quarter. In the second quarter, she hit two 3-pointers and a 15-footer and outscored the entire Culver team 8-7.

Smith said it was difficult to get shots up during the offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic. There was no summer season, and access to the gym was limited.

“Coach Kroft has really worked with me on getting open, and we run motion quite a bit,” Smith said when asked about her perimeter shot. “Kingsley Kroft, we just see each other and read each other pretty well. … If you’re comfortable with it, take it. And I guess, if you’re open, shoot it. Just don’t force anything.”

Lowry had high praise for Smith.

“She’s everything,” Lowry said. “Every team would wish they had five of those girls.”

After Shedrow’s trey, Ella Gearhart scored on a putback, Smith dropped in a 3, and Aubrey Gearhart hit a short banker in the lane to give Winamac a 21-15 halftime lead. Kroft extended the lead to nine with a 3 in the first possession of the second half.

Culver beat LaCrosse 40-37 on Dec. 8. They went into a quarantine until Dec. 19 and got in two practices before Christmas. Then they had more practices that Lowry called “hit or miss” after Christmas.

“Having that game today really tested our schedule and our girls,” Lowry said. “We tried to let them be kids and enjoy family, and just how everything is, we thought it was important that whatever they had planned to be home, they could do, and it really cut into just conditioning time and coming in and working on fundamentals. We had a couple of days of fundamental practices, but the conditioning just couldn’t keep up with what we wanted them to do.”

Winamac 42, Culver 35

WINAMAC (42) (7-3, 1-1)

Aubrey Gearhart 1 4-6 6, Kingsley Kroft 4 2-2 12, Alyssa Villanueva 1 1-4 3, Ella Gearhart 1 3-7 5, Maggie Smith 6 0-0 14, Piper Link 1 0-0 2, Rori Blackman 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 14 10-19 42

CULVER (35) (4-4, 0-2)

Baleigh Binkley 4 1-6 10, Maddie Shedrow 8 1-2 18, Mackenzie Banks 2 0-0 4, Lizzie Pugh 0 0-1 0, Alina Pizur 0 3-4 3, Olivia Compton 0 0-0 0, Maisy McCuen 0 0-0 0, Grace Sieber 0 0-0 0, Maegan Pearl 0 0-0 0, Avery Garland 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 14 5-13 35

Three-point field goals:

Winamac 4 (Smith 2, Kroft 2),

Culver 2 (Shedrow, Binkley)

Total fouls: Winamac 15, Culver 18

Turnovers: Winamac 7, Culver 16

Score by quarters

Winamac 9 12 10 11 42

Culver 8 7 11 9 35

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