Summit girls basketball team invigorated to top 2021-22 season

Summit High School’s Autumn Rivera drives to the basket during the third quarter of the varsity girls basketball game against Battle Mountain Jan. 14 at Summit High School in Breckenridge. After making the playoffs for the first time in over 15 years last season, Rivera and the rest of the Summit High School girls basketball team hopes to top what it accomplished last season.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Last season was a historic season for the Summit High School girls basketball team. Not only did the team make the playoffs for the first time in over 15 years, but the team also secured a home playoff win by defeating Marshall High School 53-40.

Summit went on to lose in the second round to Canon City High School in Canon City, but playing two competitive playoff games has set the team up for another big season this year.

For the first time in her nine years of coaching, head coach Kayle Walker Burns is coming into the season with peers, students and Summit High School fans expecting another successful season that leads to a second straight playoff berth.

The expectations first came off as interesting to Walker Burns but soon turned into a firm belief in her team’s ability to hang with some of the best teams in the 4A classification. 

“In my nine years we really haven’t had the expectations that we are going to be good and should win games,” Walker Burns said. “I could be nervous about it, but I know what my kids can do. We should be good, we should be able to compete.”

This season the Summit girls basketball team will be led by a strong core of senior players who partially led the team during the Tigers’ playoff run last season. Star athletes like Paola Arredondo, Joselin Roque and Kelley Duffy will make up Summit’s backcourt while Brina Babich and Autumn Rivera will man the front court.

Last season as a junior, Rivera led the team in points and rebounds per game, recording 14.6 and 8.5 respectively. Arredondo on the other hand, acted as the court general, racking up 2.4 assists and 2.7 steals per game last season.

Both seniors are expected to play a major role on the Summit basketball team as players and leaders. Both were elected team captains by their teammates.

“Both of them are really great people who lead by example,” Walker Burns said. “They are constantly hustling in everything that they do. They encourage their teammates and are really good athletes. They both have positive attitudes and their teammates do look up to them.”

Summit High School’s Brina Babich shoots over a defender during the first quarter of the varsity girls basketball game against Battle Mountain Jan. 14 at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Walker Burns will lean on Rivera and Arredondo more than previous captains, allowing the duo to run practices and lead warm-ups.

Over the last week or so, the team has been working hard to prepare for its home opener against Evergreen on Dec. 3. Despite only meeting a handful of times before Thanksgiving break the team is already looking in midseason form to Walker Burns and the rest of the Summit girls basketball team coaching staff.

“This first week of practice has looked better than any first week of practice that I have ever had,” Walker Burns said. “We are already diving into plays and working on a new press this year. The girls really want it this year, and I know the girls were excited to start the season.”

Walker Burns and the Summit girls basketball team are hoping this early season drive will translate into the team surpassing the second round of the 4A state playoffs. Arredondo has openly spoken about this goal and has made it clear that the rest of the Summit girls basketball team is on the same page. 

Walker Burns feels like the program’s two playoff games last year have given the team the confidence it needs to play competitive teams during the regular season and eventually the playoffs.

“Confidence was a big thing,” Walker Burns said. “Knowing that we can compete with these teams. Having that playoff experience will maybe help with nerves and confidence and will let them know that we can compete with some of these best teams.”

The Summit girls basketball team will begin the season with two challenges right off the bat, facing Evergreen High School for the Tigers’ home opener before facing D’Evelyn High School on the road.

Both Evergreen and D’Evelyn play in the competitive 4A Jefferson County league with D’Evelyn making it to the final eight teams in the 4A state playoffs last season.

“I am excited to see the carryover from what we did last season,” Walker Burns said of her excitement for the season. “Volleyball made playoffs, rugby made playoffs and I have a lot of carryover from those teams. Playoffs are almost becoming an expectation for the players on these teams.”

Summit High School girls basketball schedule
  • Dec. 3 vs. Evergreen, 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 7 at  D’Evelyn, 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 16 at Alamosa, 3 p.m.
  • Jan. 5 vs. Palisade, 5:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 7 vs. Basalt, 5:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 13 at Coal Ridge, 5:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 17 vs. Buena Vista, 5:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 21 at Steamboat Springs, 12:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 24 at Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.
  • Jan. 27 vs. Rifle, 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 28 vs. Delta, 2:30 p.m.
  • Feb.3 vs. Coal Ridge, 5:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 4 at Basalt, 5:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 11 vs. Steamboat Springs, 12:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 17 at Rifle, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 18 vs. Delta, 4 p.m.

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