Devils hand Tigers gut-wrenching home loss, 65-75 | SummitDaily.com

Devils hand Tigers gut-wrenching home loss, 65-75

In the grand scheme of things, one loss isn't the end of the world. But man, this one hurt, and it hurt bad.

On Thursday night, the Summit boys basketball team let a rivalry win slip through their fingers when they lost to Eagle Valley, 65-75. After playing one of the finest first halves of the season, the Tigers lost all momentum and focus in the third quarter, and then struggled to recoup in the fourth, all while the Devils kept sinking basket after basket from the field and the free-throw line. Eagle Valley (11-5 overall, 4-1 in 4A Western Slope) outscored the home team 46-26 in the second half, leading to chants of "Eagle! Valley!" from the visiting bleachers as Summit's student section went silent.

"One of our big things this year is finding the energy again once we lose it," Summit head coach Jordan Buller said a few hours before his team faced Steamboat Springs at home on Friday night (they finally won, 52-42). "We've had games with moments of brilliance, but once we lose that energy we haven't been able to find it again."

The first quarter was all Summit. Senior Andrew Shaw sunk a 2-pointer to get things started and opened the floodgates for a barrage of threes. Along with Shaw, junior Turner McDonald and sophomore Ilja Bubukin combined for 20 points in the first, with 12 points coming from 3-pointers.

McDonald and Bubukin were bright spots on a dark night: the junior had 19 points total (including five 3-pointers) and the sophomore had 13 total, for what Buller called one of Bubukin's best performances.

By the end of the second, it looked like Summit was running away with this one. On the final two drives of the quarter, in the final minute, junior Dimitri Preciado came alive for a sweet alley-oop assist to McDonald and a fast-break layup when the Devils' center, senior Dawson Keller, shanked a dunk and Preciado caught the defenders flatfooted. They entered the locker room far ahead, 39-29.

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"We played well in the first half," Buller said. "We've been talking a lot about playing as a team, and I'm running a system with a lot of guys and moving parts. We had good energy in that first half. It was just good basketball."

Buller's team was still riding high at the start of the third — McDonald started the quarter with yet another 3-pointer — but the Devils quickly took advantage of fouls and lazy transitions to go on an 11-0 tear, bringing the score to 42-40 with five minutes remaining in the quarter. The Tigers were forced to hold the Devils at bay and, luckily, they did, keeping a slim 50-48 lead to start the final quarter.

That's when the Devils went nuts. Eagle Valley scored early on a foul and-one to take their first lead of the game, 50-51, and Summit never recovered. In the fourth alone, the home team committed 11 penalties and gifted the rivals 9 points — nearly the difference when the final buzzer blew on a heart-wrenching loss, 65-75.

"Every game we have different people step up, and that's a blessing and a curse for us," Buller said. "We don't rely on one guy, but we also don't have a single guy who can be there every single game. The more we share the ball and the more we play as a team, the more we'll do on the court. That's our focus for the next couple of games."

The Tigers were 5-8 overall and 0-5 in the 4A Slope before Friday's game against Steamboat.

Girls lose uphill battle

At the varsity girls game earlier that night, the Tigers faced a force of nature in the Lady Devils. The Eagle Valley players were still licking their wounds after a shocker on Tuesday night, when they lost to Battle Mountain for the first time in nearly a decade. They had something to prove and Summit was in the crosshairs.

Eagle Valley (10-6 overall, 3-2 in 4A Slope) wasted no time setting the pace — and the Tigers had no problem staying with it, at least for a quarter. Starting junior Brooke Tomlinson and freshman Nicole Kimball went neck-and-neck with the Devils, but the hole was deep at the start of the fourth quarter, 14-28, and someone needed to step up.

Kimball filled the role. She might be a freshman — the only one on the varsity roster — but she plays like a veteran. She had two steals and five points in the fourth quarter, giving Summit the spark it needed to score 10 points for the best quarter of the game. The home team lost, 24-41, but came away with two solid quarters of play. Let's see if they can add another two soon.

The Summit girls team is 3-11 overall and 0-5 in the 4A Slope before the Friday home match against Steamboat.

Summit vs. Eagle Valley — Jan. 26

1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

Summit 20 19 11 15 65

EVHS 13 16 19 27 75

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Summit girls vs. Eagle Valley — Jan. 26

1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

Summit 6 4 4 10 24

EVHS 13 9 6 13 41

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