Penalties kill the Summit boys comeback against Rifle, 54-60
FRISCO — The Tigers lost this comeback with penalties.
On Thursday night, the Summit High boy’s basketball team hosted the Rifle Bears for a match that looked simple on paper. The Bears entered the night at 4-9 overall and 2-2 in the 4A Western Slope, while the Tigers came into the game dead even at 5-5 overall with a 0-2 league record. This could’ve been — should’ve been, maybe — the perfect night to get that much-needed first league win of the season.
And it almost happened, but you know the old saying about close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades. Both teams started slow in the first quarter with good defense, ho-hum shooting and flat feet. Rifle pulled ahead in the final minute to take the lead into the second quarter, 7-11, and the Summit crew knew they had to pick it up, and pick it up fast.
The first stretch of the second was more of the same, as Rifle capitalized on penalties and kept inching ahead. When Rifle pulled away to 27-14 — the Tigers largest deficit of the night — the home team found its game and finally started sinking shots. Sophomore Ilja Bubukin went 0-3 from the three-point line until the final few beats of the second period, when he finally sunk one on a feed from junior Turner McDonald. Senior Andrew Shaw had a three-pointer of his own soon after and Summit entered the locker room with momentum (if not exactly the lead), 20-29.
The Summit boys returned for the second half with fire in their bellies and got started post-haste with a shot from senior Eddie Jain, who had 10 points on the night, including two field goals. But the quarter belonged to senior Max Coleman and junior Dimitri Preciado, who combined for 11 of the Tigers 17 points in the third. Coleman did the work from the outside with two clutch three-pointers, while Preciado did what he does best and drove to the paint. The junior had been unusually flat until then, confined to the role of play caller and time manager, and his team needed a spark to close the gap after the third quarter still down, 37-42.
The Tigers inched closer and closer in the first three minutes of the fourth period until Bubukin went wild with threes. He sunk one and then another to give his team the first lead of the game, 47-46, with five minutes remaining. The slowly growing student section went wild, and the scorekeepers blasted Queen’s “We Will Rock You” at 11 when Rifle called a timeout. Summit was roaring back with a vengeance, first with a sweet alley-oop from Preciado to McDonald, then with a rebound for a layup by Bubukin to tie things at 51-51 with two minutes remaining.
That’s when penalties spoiled the comeback. In those final two minutes, the Tigers committed six penalties — more than half of the 10 they recorded in the third and fourth quarters — and gifted the Bears nine points. The fouls also halted momentum just enough to derail Summit’s come-from-behind victory, and after a last-ditch set of free throws from Preciado, the Tigers ended with a close loss, 54-60.
The Summit boys are now 5-6 overall and 0-3 in the 4A Western Slope. They next face Glenwood Springs in Glenwood on Saturday, Jan. 21. Varsity tips off at 3:30 p.m.
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