New year, new Tigers: Summit wins 1st game of the year against Kennedy Commanders
Prior to the holiday break, the Summit Tigers boys basketball team had only one win on the season and was grappling with the loss of nine seniors from last year’s team.
In other words, the Tigers were searching for a new team identity and team chemistry because much of the 2020-21 team, which made the playoffs, was made up of seniors.
Over the holiday break, it appears the Tigers might have found what they had been searching for as they took on the John F. Kennedy Commanders on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at Summit High School.
Both teams got off to a slow start on the offensive side of the ball. The Tigers had some trouble getting their offense moving, while the Commanders struggled to make shots from beyond the three-point line.
By the end of the first quarter, the score was in the single digits with the Tigers leading the Commanders 8-7.
Senior Jac Crowe helped to put some points on the board for the Tigers with some impressive putbacks under the basket.
Crowe ended up being the leading scorer for the Tigers, coming off the bench to score 12 points.
In the second quarter, the Tigers kicked off the rest of the holiday rust, getting the offense going, finding ways to score and shutting down the Commanders.
The Tigers had numerous stops and steals in the second quarter that helped to stop the Commanders in their tracks. Kennedy would score only one basket in the second quarter, while Summit worked to run up its score.
Sophomore Emilio Jain was one young Tiger who stepped up his game in the second quarter, coming away with a few steals of his own that led to fast-break opportunities and several baskets to help the Tigers go to halftime with a 18-9 lead.
“Our defense really stepped up,” head coach Jordan Buller said. “I got on the guys hard yesterday in practice about it, and I felt like in the second quarter, they really responded better. I think our zone really messed with them a little bit. We are trying out a new pressure zone, and I think it is going to work well for us.”
While in the locker room, Buller was adamant that the players keep up the current energy in the second half in order to come away with the win.
“We were just talking about continuing playing hard,” Buller said about what he told his team at halftime. “I feel like the guys really responded to coming out and taking the challenge of getting a few more offensive rebounds.”
The Tigers didn’t skip a beat in the third quarter. After a quick succession of scoring by both teams, the Tigers once again slowed down the Commanders’ offense while crashing the offensive boards in order to continue to score on their side of the floor.
Sophomore Justin Chabot helped lead the team, running the point position for the majority of the game but really showing his leadership potential in the second half.
Chabot helped feed the ball to his teammates and even nailed a few shots from beyond the three-point line.
Senior Mac Scroggins was able to score, as well, sinking some midrange jumpers, while senior Ephraim Overstreet was able to score inside.
The Tigers also fell into some foul trouble in the third quarter, committing nine fouls in large part because of the team’s eagerness to steal the ball from the Commanders.
By the end of the third, the Tigers had scored 20 points in the quarter to have a 38-21 lead on the Commanders.
The foul trouble the Tigers put themselves in in the third quarter ended up not being a problem as junior Jack Schierholz, Chabot, Jain and Crowe put the game away for good by scraping together points in order to maintain the lead.
The 48-33 win over the Commanders was the Tigers’ second on the season and their first in the new year.
The Tigers displayed a new sense of direction and harmony that was not as present in the team’s earlier games.
“It’s something we are working on,” Buller said. “We graduated nine seniors last year. It was a really tight group, and we didn’t have a lot of summer time together, so it’s nice to see the guys really forming a bond. I feel like spending days in practice getting after it helps create that type of brotherhood that we are really getting after.”
Summit will look to continue its success at home Thursday, Jan. 6, when it will face Basalt High School.
Basalt is 3-4 on the season, and Thursday’s game against Summit will be its first in the new year. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
“We’ve had enough struggles this year so far that I am not looking too far ahead,” Buller said. “I am just taking it a night at a time, but I think if we have a good night of practice (Wednesday), I like our chances.”
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