Summit boys basketball seniors ready for crucial final home game
Tigers girls lose to Greeley Central ahead of senior night
Friday night may be the final time the nine seniors on the Summit High School varsity boys basketball team play together on home hardwood. Though it’ll be a memorable moment for the group that’s played together since the sixth grade, the Tigers know a win is critical to improve their standing for the state tournament.
“I think, so far through this season, we haven’t put ourselves in a horrible spot. I think we’re in a good position,” Tigers senior captain Tyler Nakos said. “We’re prepared well for these next two games coming up.”
Summit (7-5, 7-3 4A Western Slope League) will host Rifle (5-5, 4-4) in a senior night game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Summit High School in Breckenridge. The matchup is a showdown of two mountain teams looking to secure a spot in the 32-team state tournament. The Tigers on Thursday were ranked 26th while Rifle was 32nd.
Tigers senior captain point guard Hector Diaz said Summit will need to play harder than it did in a 41-38 road win earlier this season against the Bears.
“I think if our shots are falling, and we play good defense, and if we are able to beat their zone, I think we’ll be good,” Diaz said.
Diaz is a player committed to basketball who Nakos said is always in a basketball gym. While other top Tigers players like Nakos (golf), co-captain Cam Kalaf (football) and Andrew Duxbury (lacrosse) committed time to other sports, Diaz was the one who was the heart of the group’s passion for basketball.
Earlier in their high school careers, some players were on junior varsity while others were on the C-level team — and Nakos departed for IMG Academy in Florida before returning — but in the end, these nine guys have come up together through the ranks.
The group includes reserve guard Ian Connors, a spark plug of energy who Diaz and Nakos said always brings a positive attitude. Wing Banta Sylla is another player who’s always smiling and brings an infectious approach to the team. Duxbury is an exemplary hustle player and great competitor, Nakos and Diaz said, while wing Marcus Popoff is a dedicated teammate who has progressed his skills over the years. Naz Poliuk is an intense sharpshooter passionate about the game of basketball who provides the team with a fire, and big man Kobe Cortright always gives 100% even if he’s not the most vocal player.
And then there is co-captain Kalaf, who Nakos said is the glue of the team.
“He comes every day and keeps this team together,” Nakos said. “He’s always supporting his teammates and hyping us up.”
After Summit hosts Rifle on Friday, the Tigers are scheduled to conclude the regular season with a road trip the next afternoon to Eagle Valley (3-5, 2-5). The Tigers varsity girls team (2-10, 1-7) also will conclude its season with senior night versus Rifle at 4:30 p.m. Friday followed by a road trip Saturday to Eagle Valley. The Tigers girls lost, 57-34, on the road to Greeley Central on Tuesday.
The Tigers girls’ lone senior is captain point guard Karen Barrios, who said being part of the program for all four years has made a big impact on her life and who she is.
“I think basketball has probably been some of my best memories in high school,” Barrios said. “I love being part of the team and playing the sport. It feels like a chapter of my life.”
Barrios said she hopes it’s her passionate play that a talented group of Tigers sophomores can take with them into future seasons.
“Staying at practice and working hard — I hope that’s what they get from me,” Barrios said. “The love of the game.”
Follow the Summit Daily News on Facebook and have notifications for live videos turned on to be alerted when sports and outdoors editor Tony Olivero goes live with Friday’s tentative 4:30 (girls) and 6:30 p.m. (boys) tip times.
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