Summit girls basketball team upset by The Classical Academy in 1st round of Class 4A state playoffs

Kelley Duffy dribbles the ball inside the paint during Summit's home playoff game against The Classical Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Despite a first half lead, Summit fell to The Classical Acadmey 45-35.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

For the first time in the history of the Summit High School girls basketball program, the Tigers successfully advanced to the state basketball playoffs in back-to-back years. 

Last season, the Summit Tigers entered the Class 4A playoffs as the No. 25 seed and beat No. 40 Mitchell High School in the first round before losing to No. 8 Canon City in the second round.

This season, the Summit girls basketball team returned as the No. 16 seed and faced The Classical Academy (No. 17) on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

In a highly competitive and aggressive game, the Tigers and Titans battled for all 32 minutes of regulation play. Summit may have sported a first-half lead, but the Titans (15-8) pushed past the Tigers in the latter part of the game to end the Tigers’ season. Summit was upset by The Classical Academy, 45-35. 

To begin the first quarter, both teams tried to size up one another. Possessions were exchanged up and down the court as both teams turned over the ball. About midway through the opening quarter of play, Summit found a little bit of offensive rhythm with senior Brina Babich scoring from inside the paint and senior Paola Arredondo firing from 3-point range.

The Classical Academy’s Lanee’ Goettsch tried to get the scoring going for the Titans, but Summit hustled to disrupt The Classical’s Academy’s offense. Senior Kelley Duffy played shutout defense while Arredondo brought intensity on both offense and defense.

After one quarter of play, the score remained in the single digits with Summit leading, 8-5.

In the second quarter, Summit started to frustrate The Classical Academy. Goettsch continued to lead drives down the court, but the drives failed to translate in a Titans scoring spree. Summit appeared stumped by The Classical Academy’s defense in the early parts of the second quarter but started to catch fire in the final minutes of the half.

After struggling to find her groove in the playoff game, senior Autumn Rivera found the basket from behind the 3-point arc while junior Gracelyn Garvert cut to open space in order to score two baskets.

Summit went into halftime up by 7 points, leading 19-12.

The Classical Academy came out in the second half with a newfound sense of energy. Within the first 90 seconds, junior Mairin Carpenter and senior Katharine Roach combined their efforts to make back-to-back 3 pointers for the Titans.

The Tigers tried to respond to the quick scoring, but the team turned the ball over by either traveling or coughing up the ball up to The Classical Academy.

With a fast-break layup from Roach, the Titans pulled to a 20-19 lead, and the Tigers were forced to call a timeout.

To make matters worse, Summit’s aggressive defense started to lead to foul trouble. With Arredondo on the bench with four personal fouls, The Classical Academy hurried the ball up the court and sliced through a reeling Summit defense.

The Classical Academy’s Alaina Bonacquista pushed the Titans’ lead to 5 points, 28-23, to start the final quarter of play.

The Tigers knew they needed to play better if it wanted to advance to the second round of the playoffs, and the team immediately tried to turn the game around to start the fourth quarter. 

Rivera and Babich scored on midrange jumpers while Arredondo reentered the game to once again inject the game with a level of intensity.

With under three minutes remaining, the Titans had expanded their lead to 6 points, 33-27. 

Summit played tight and aggressive defense in hopes of creating a turnover while the Summit offense started firing from 3-point range. Despite huge scores from Duffy and Garvert, the effort from Summit was not enough for the Tigers to salvage a win.

The Classical Academy put the game away for good from the charity stripe, winning 45-35.

“I am super proud of the team,” Rivera said after a tearful moment among her teammates. “There were a lot of good moments in this game, and I am just proud of everyone.”

Summit concludes its season with a record of 14-10 overall and 9-3 in 4A Western Slope league play. Summit will graduate Babich, Arredondo, Rivera, Duffy and Joselin Lopez from the program. 

The group of five seniors helped the Summit girls basketball team transform into a competitive and successful program.

“It has been incredible,” Rivera said. “These past four years, I have learned so much from coach Burns and my teammates. It has been the best experience I could ever ask for. I am really thankful for all the moments. They really made me into who I am today.”

The Classical Academy will face No. 1 Holy Family High School on Friday, Feb. 24. Holy Family defeated No. 32 Eagle Ridge Academy, 76-20, on Tuesday night. 

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