Even in loss, Pepsi Center provides thrill | SummitDaily.com

Even in loss, Pepsi Center provides thrill

DEVON O'NEIL
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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DENVER ” Twenty years from now, they will remember the leather recliners and televisions in their locker room; the motor coach that picked them up at school and dropped them off at the Pepsi Center entrance, where they were escorted through the NBA arena’s halls before eventually warming up the hardwood for Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and their Nuggets teammates later that night.

It’s a good bet the Summit High School boys basketball players will also recall the outcome of their game against Golden on Monday afternoon, a 64-52 loss, but on this day the thrill could not be numbed by defeat.

“You could see in their eyes it was just something they won’t forget,” SHS coach Mike Rathgeber said. “I know I won’t.”

Golden’s players and coaches also are not likely to forget Tucker Shelden, Summit’s versatile point guard, after the 6-foot-4 senior posted a stat line you’d expect to see from Jason Kidd.

Shelden scored a team-high 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out five assists and snared five steals. Rathgeber said it was “probably his best game of the season.”

But in the end it was Golden’s balance that tipped the score in the Demons’ favor. Whereas Summit had Joe Felton score 14 and Sean Linfield and Ryan Eberhart add nine and seven, respectively, that was as deep as the Tigers’ significant contributors ran.

Golden, meanwhile, received balanced scoring contributions from a half-dozen players, Rathgeber said.

“I got no complaints. We played well, they played better,” the SHS coach said.

Summit dropped to 14-8 with the loss, which hurt a little bit more because it pushed the Tigers to a sub-.500 mark in Jeffco League action (3-4) and guaranteed they will finish sixth in the 10-team league.

The Demons, meanwhile, improved to 11-10 overall and 6-2 in Jeffco contests; they have won seven of their last nine games after starting the season 4-8.

After a tight first quarter in which both teams shed their nerves, the pace picked up and the game became a contest of runs. Golden pulled ahead by as many as 15 points, but Summit always seemed to respond, cutting the deficit to six at one point.

However, the Demons did everything they needed to do in the game’s late stages, and so the Tigers were forced to settle for the thrill in defeat, just like the 239 fans who made the trip from Summit to see the game in person.

“It wasn’t just the floor,” Rathgeber said of the day’s events, which included seats for the Denver-Golden State game Monday evening, “it was everything. The whole day, no matter where we went or what we did, everything was first class. These kids got to see what it feels like to be an important basketball player.”

Summit will have one more chance to improve its postseason seed on Thursday, when the Tigers travel to Evergreen for their regular-season finale.

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at doneil@summitdaily.com, or (970) 668-4633.


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