Culver Academy record vs. teams in their class: 6-2
Culver Academy record vs. teams in their sectional: 5-1
Last year in postseason: Lost to Plymouth 51-38 in sectional quarterfinals
This year in postseason: Defeated Plymouth 49-48 in sectional quarterfinals; defeated New Prairie 43-24 in sectional semifinals
Sectional titles: Five (most recently in 1997)
RHS record vs. teams in their class: 4-3
RHS record vs. teams in their sectional: 2-1
Last year in postseason: Lost to South Bend St. Joseph's 50-35 in sectional quarterfinals
This year in postseason: Defeated South Bend St. Joseph's 63-56 in sectional quarterfinals; defeated Mishawaka Marian 51-46 in sectional semifinals
Sectional titles: Eight (most recently in 2004)
Last meeting: Culver Academy 52, RHS 49, Feb. 4
Winner plays: Griffith-Andrean winner in Rensselaer regional semifinals Feb. 19
Preview: A blizzard brought Culver Academy and Rochester together, and their great play through the first three days of Class 3A, Sectional 19 has brought them back together.
The Feb. 1 snowstorm caused the West Central-RHS and Culver Academy-South Bend Clay games to be canceled. When Culver Academy had their Feb. 3 game with Pioneer canceled, RHS called Culver Academy up for a game last Thursday and asked if they would like to play on Friday.
Knowing it would give them a chance to become acclimated with their sectional surroundings, Culver Academy said yes.
"This is the sectional site, and this is obviously the sectional opponent," Christlieb said when asked why they wanted to play. "And we wanted to have a chance to play on the floor, and hopefully we'll get a benefit from that on Tuesday. ... Rochester was able to have their senior night, and I think it worked out well for everybody involved."
As for the game, the Lady Eagles went on an 8-0 run to finish the first quarter and lead 24-11. They extended the lead to 31-17 when Brenna Newell found Kylee Shipley in transition for a layup.
Perhaps RHS then remembered their previous comebacks:
Culver Community (down 28 at half, they lost by only 10)
Oregon-Davis (down 18 in the fourth, they lost by only five)
Whitko (down 10 in the first quarter, they rallied to win by 12)
Bremen (down five after one quarter, they rallied to win by four)
Malchow's three-pointer at the halftime buzzer and capped a 9-2 run and got RHS within 33-26 at halftime.
And down 41-32 after Brenna Newell scored on a running banker in transition, RHS went on a 12-0 run to take a 44-41 lead. Kelsi Denney tied the game at 41 with 6:29 left with a layup in transition. Malchow then hit her third three of the game to give the Lady Zs their first lead of the game with 5:44 left.
Andrijana Cvitkovic hit two free throws with 5:29 left to cut the lead to one, but Alanie Sroufe followed with a putback to put RHS back up by three.
But Culver Academy's duo of Shipley and Cvitkovic took over from there. Shipley tied it with a three and then gave CGA a 48-46 lead with a driving scoop layup. Cvitkovic hit two free throws to make it 50-46.
Kayla Lindsey hit a three-pointer with 51.7 seconds left to make it 50-49.
But the Lady Eagles would work the clock to 23.9 seconds left, and Cvitkovic hit two free throws to make it 52-49.
Malchow missed a potential game-tying three-pointer. Culver Academy deflected it out of bounds with 3.5 seconds left.
RHS called time out to set up a play with the ball being inbounded from the left sideline 30 feet from the basket. But they never executed it because of Shipley, who deflected the inbounds pass toward halfcourt. Lindsey retrieved it, but she could only get off a halfcourt heave at the buzzer that missed.
Shipley was CGA's only double-figure scorer with 19 points. Cvitkovic was held to one field goal but went six for six from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
"We were fortunate," Christlieb said. "We stemmed the tide. We got down, and Shipley hit a huge three to tie it back up at 46-46, and then we hit our free throws down the stretch. ... It was a good game for us for being off for seven days."
Malchow was RHS' lone double-figure scorer with 17. Her shooting helped bust the Lady Eagles' 1-3-1 zone defense.
"We got more comfortable against their 1-3-1," RHS coach Tony Stesiak said after the game. "We got to the blocks. In the first half, I thought we were tentative against it. We found our legs and rhythm."
Stesiak also said RHS players feared that Culver Academy's Cvitkovic intimidated even in the vicinity of their shots. He also said RHS might have gotten tired and too careful after coming all the way back to take the lead.
But even with the 6-3 Cvitkovic and the 6-3 Hall, RHS rebounded Culver Academy to a draw: Each team had 21 boards.
Class 2A, Sectional 34 at North Newton
Culver (22-1) vs. Winamac (13-9), 7 p.m.
Culver record vs. teams in their class: 8-0
Culver record vs. teams in their sectional: 4-0
Last year in postseason: Lost to Winamac 53-42 in sectional quarterfinals
This year in postseason: Defeated Hebron 55-31 in sectional quarterfinals; defeated Boone Grove 41-34 in sectional semifinals
Sectional titles: Four (most recently in 2002)
Winamac record vs. teams in their class: 4-3
Winamac record vs. teams in their sectional: 2-2
Last year in postseason: Defeated Culver 53-42 in sectional quarterfinals; defeated North Newton 57-46 in sectional semifinals; defeated Boone Grove 50-33 for 12th sectional title in school history; defeated Garrett 49-44 in regional semifinals; defeated Westview 41-29 for second regional title in school history; lost to Fort Wayne Luers 57-44 in semistate
This year in postseason: Defeated North Newton 58-22 in sectional quarterfinals
Sectional titles: 12 (two-time defending champion, also defending regional champion)
Preview: Culver's reward for beating No. 5 Boone Grove Friday is another chance to play Winamac, the team that has knocked them out of sectionals each of the last three years.
In 2008, Nicole Carnegie, Whitney Sanders, Alison Zehner, Patrice McBee and Gwen Zehner were all freshmen, and they were all on the court for some of the second half of a 56-43 loss to Winamac in the sectional quarterfinals at North Judson.
Three years later, and they are all seniors, and they'll have to beat Winamac to win their elusive sectional title after going 4-17 three years ago.
As sophomores, Culver got a bye and lost 52-37 to Winamac on Winamac's home floor in the sectional semifinals.
Last year, Culver beat Winamac 51-44 during the regular season, but the about-to-get-hot Lady Warriors avenged it with a 53-42 win in the sectional quarterfinals at Hebron.
Culver returned the favor with their own 53-42 win in their regular season meeting Nov. 16, jumping out to a 15-7 lead after one quarter and leading wire to wire.
"Winamac's our rival," McBee said after that game. "I don't know if they know it, but everyone was here, and we are competitive against Winamac."
But there would not figure to be a reason for Culver to be overconfident, whether they remember Winamac beating them in last year's sectional or avenging a regular season loss to North Judson with a 39-36 semifinal win Friday.
Culver also held Winamac star freshman Stephanie Shorter to two points.
Culver trailed Boone Grove 21-20 after three quarters before exploding for 21 fourth-quarter points in their 41-34 semifinal win Friday. McBee had 16, and Gwen Zehner had 14. Culver went 21 for 23 from the foul line, highlighted by Gwen Zehner's 10-for-11 night.