Bulldogs boys end season
It was neither the result, nor the season that Culver wanted.
But late in last Saturday's game against Weston-McEwen, with the game out of reach for the Bulldogs, Culver head coach Johnny Wilson made sure all four of his seniors — Mike Davis, Tony Olivares, Chris Munoz-Toledo and Ian Stevens were on the floor together and given an opportunity to score.
Davis was already leading the team in scoring and finished with 16 points in addition to seven blocks.
Olivares had already hit a three-pointer, and converted another basket. Stevens waas on the board as well.
That left Munoz-Toledo, the 5-foot-4 guard, who is called "Munie" by his teammates and coaches, to score not only his first points of the game, but also the season.
His first attempt was a runner that clanked off the rim. A couple possessions later, he received a pass in the middle of the lane and floated a lay-up off the glass and in.
"That last timeout I called, I said, 'You guys have one job as a senior group right now, and that's to go get one for Munie,'" head coach Johnny Wilson said. "They did and they ran it for him a couple times. That was cool."
In a season that saw the Bulldogs finish 1-18, 0-8 in Columbia Basin Conference play, moments like the ones on Saturday were savored when victories evaded the Bulldogs.
They fell short of a season-long goal to pick up that first league win in three years. They had one last opportunity to do so Monday against Heppner, hoping to play the spoiler role to a team vying for a playoff spot. Ultimately, a 14-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome and Heppner eventually pulled out a 59-35 win.
The ending wasn't what the Bulldogs had hoped for, but the players, particularly seniors, reflected on this season and the last couple with a positive tone.
"I'm glad I got to spend all four years at Culver," said an emotional Davis after Saturday's game.
Although this season's record was a step back from the prior season, the Bulldogs' future appears to be plenty bright. In addition to the return of key rotation players, including Weston Basl, David Gutierrez and Matt Krueger, Culver can build with a promising young group of players who were able to develop on the JV team before being thrown into the deep end on varsity.
"We obviously have some holes we need to fill, but for the first time since I've been at Culver, I feel like we have an actual JV program that has been brought up to fill roles," Wilson said. "Typically JV here has been guys swinging down from varsity, plus one or two others."
The team likely could've brought some of those players up during the season, but didn't feel it was necessary. Instead, they've been able to play important minutes and steadily improve.
"It's a plan that we kind of leaned on early in the year and it has worked great," Wilson said. "Those guys have really come a long way."
Programs take time to build, but Culver is headed in the right direction.
Follow him on Twitter @WillCDenner