BREMEN — In a game of two clamp down defenses it was Carson Miller’s offense that was the difference as Bremen beat Culver in a slugfest 34-21.
Miller had 21 of the Lions first 26 points on his way to 26 on the night.
“We talked early about what if we have to win this game 10-9,” said Bremen coach Matt Miller. “Are our egos too big for that or are we going to be good walking out of here as winners? I think they were excited to hear that message that we didn’t have pressure to light anything up or do anything out of the ordinary, just do what was required for 32 minutes and try to win a ball game.”
What was required was finding a way to break through an aggressive, physical full-court and half-court defense for Culver, and play some lockdown defense of their own.
Early on both teams struggled to find an answer with the ball in their hands. Culver was able to force five first-half turnovers but made seven of their own against Bremen’s very active and aggressive half-court zone.
“It’s our only chance to win,” said Culver boss Kyle Evans. “We have inabilities at times to score. If we aren’t hitting shots on the perimeter, especially against the zone we are going to struggle to score.”
“We get after it defensively,” he said. “We are just scrappy and gritty on the defensive end and that’s what has enabled us to be in ball games all year long.”
It enabled them to be in this one as the Cavs also took the advantage on the boards keeping the Lion offense at on and done.
Culver was able to tie the game at six apiece late in the second quarter, but a run by the Lions off some costly turnovers in the final two minutes of the half had Bremen up seven at the break.
Culver kept the game within one to two possessions for much of the third quarter but by quarters end Bremen had solved the press enough to find Miller in transition leading to easy baskets around the rim and the Lions ability to stretch the lead.
“I was happy that we were really active at the rim,” said Miller. “Everybody who’s watched us knows that we have been dying in the half-court offense. It was huge for us to beat the press and get some easy baskets.”
“We talked about grinding so hard about every game,” said Miller. “We aren’t chasing the school record for wins tonight lets just play together and have a good time. Play as hard as we can and whatever shakes out shakes out.”
A very physical game from buzzer to buzzer each team matched the other but the Cavs had a couple of key pieces — Braxton Conley and Owen Clingler in foul trouble much of the game. Clingler eventually fouled out at around the 4-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
“Our practices are very physical,” said Evans. “A lot of games the other team is shooting bonus free throws before the end of the first quarter. Depending on the way the game is being called that can be an advantage or a disadvantage. We aren’t going to scale it back in practice. We have to get after it that way to be in games.”
Culver is 7-14 and has a first-round bye taking on the winner of LaCrosse and Argos in sectional play at home next week. Bremen is 9-13 and will also have a first-round bye taking on the winner of Eastside and Fairfield in round two at Westview.
•BREMEN 34, CULVER 21
Bremen 6 13 26 34
Culver 2 6 13 21
Bremen (34) — Czarnecki 0 0-0 0, Hickman 1 1-2 3, Libey 0 1-2 1, Ginter 0 0-1 0, Feldman 1 0-0 2, Miller 12 1-3 26, Manges 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 3-9 34.
Culver (21) — Clingler 1 1-2 4, Ortiz 1 0-2 2, Conley 0 0-0 0, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Zehner 2 0-0 4, Keller 2 0-0 6, Schuman 1 1-2 3. Totals 8 2-6 21.