Summit girls basketball advances to 2nd round of state playoffs with win over Mitchell
It’s been a long time — at least 15 years — since the Summit High School girls basketball team has made it to a state playoff game. Up until this season, the program never had a playoff berth or saw a season with more than 10 wins.
This season, the Summit girls basketball team changed that narrative, not only earning the best record for the program in the past 15 seasons, 15-8, but also securing the honor of hosting a playoff game.
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Summit Tigers faced the Mitchell High School Marauders in the first round of the 4A state girls basketball playoffs.
The stands were packed with Summit fans, with the student section dressed in all white, to support their girl’s basketball team as it took on the 40th seed in the 48-team bracket.
The game started off a bit slow for both teams as they tried to size one another up and work out their nerves.
Paola Arredondo was the first of the Tigers to really find her groove as she helped apply defensive pressure and spearheaded the offense from the point guard position.
Arredondo was able to come up with several early steals, which led to offensive opportunities on the Tigers side of the court. By the end of the first quarter, the Tigers led 10-6.
Brina Babich got the scoring going for the Tigers in the second quarter with several textbook dribble drives in order to expand Summit’s lead.
Mitchell had an answer, though, as their star point guard, Aalyviah Smith, led her team on its first run of the game, scoring several unanswered points in quick succession.
Summit put an end to Mitchell’s run by ramping up its defensive pressure. Summit’s press visibly frustrated Mitchell as its momentum was disrupted.
Toward the end of the first half, the intensity really ramped up with both teams matching the other’s scores and the fans really getting into the game.
At halftime, Summit hung on to a slim 20-17 lead.
“In the first half, we came out a little timid,” head coach Kayle Walker Burns said. “This is the first for a lot of them being in a clutch playoff game, and I think they were a little nervous, and it took until the second half for them to settle in.”
Summit came out of halftime looking much more comfortable and confident in its play after allowing Mitchell to go on a extended scoring spree in the second quarter.
“I told them this is adversity, that we are not playing great, but we are still winning,” Walker Burns recounted about what she told the team at halftime. “We have to focus on us and play our game.”
The Tigers started the second half with a run of their own, which was led by Autumn Rivera, Callie Smith, Arredondo and Babich.
Along with continuing to stretch their lead in the third quarter, the Tigers did not back down on the defensive side of the ball. Instead, they disrupted Mitchell’s offense and prevented it from scoring on most chances down the court.
The Tigers ended the third quarter with the momentum firmly on their side after Sarah Pappas powered through a foul by a Mitchell defender to score a layup and later execute on the three-point play from the free throw line.
At the end of the third, the Tigers led by seven, 33-26.
It was the junior duo of Arredondo and Rivera who helped put the game away for good in the fourth quarter, expanding the lead to 10 points.
Rivera especially started to come alive in the fourth after being kept at bay for the majority of the game by the Mitchell defense. Rivera found success from taking lightly contested midrange jumpers as well as powering her way inside to the basket.
By the end of the game, the Tigers had expanded their lead to 53-40 in order to get a win and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
“It’s honestly really exciting. We have the best record we have had in the last 15 years,” Arredondo said. “I have played with this team since like seventh grade, so I am really close to them and have that connection with them.”
The Tigers second round opponent will be eighth-seeded Canon City. The Tigers will play on the road Friday, Feb. 25, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.