Summit High boys basketball primed for state playoffs after win over Eagle Valley
Tigers to find out state tourney opponent Monday
The Summit High School varsity boys basketball team appears to be peaking heading into the state playoff after a 72-52 win at Eagle Valley on Saturday.
The Tigers had their highest scoring output of the season in the commanding win over the Devils on senior night. Head coach Jordan Buller was especially proud of the Tigers’ ability to push the pace and play up-and-down the court versus Eagle Valley’s man-to-man defense.
Buller complimented senior sharpshooter Naz Poliuk’s ability to attack the basket when Devils defenders ran him off the 3-point line with defensive closeouts. Buller said versatile wing-scorer Tyler Nakos also did a better job Saturday not forcing the issue on offense and letting the game — and shot opportunities — come to him, including a pair of 3-pointers. Senior point guard Hector Diaz performed well with his ball handling against Eagle Valley’s ball-pressure defense. Nakos lead the team with 20 points. Diaz, Poliuk and senior wing Cam Kalaf all scored 12 points.
“Cam (Kalaf) was obviously a big part of the win,” Buller added. “He had a steal and dunk, which gave us a lot of energy in the first half. It was fun to watch him go up and put one down easily.”
Buller said senior guard Ian Connors played well off the bench and contributed to the Tigers’ sterling first half with a pair of 3-pointers of his own.
“He was a spark plug who hounded their guards on D,” Buller said.
Buller was happy with how the Tigers as a team matched the Devils energy out of the gate, moving the ball well while picking ideal scoring opportunities.
“Sometimes this year our guys have been trying to be good basketball players on offense, and the coaching staff did a better job this week telling the guys, ‘We’re playing good basketball, now score,’” Buller said. “‘Get up and down.’ Sometimes when you pass the ball too much you’re limiting opportunities to score. But by halftime our foot was definitely on the gas, up by 20 points.”
In the second half, the Tigers pushed their lead to as much as 27, though Eagle Valley scraped back to within 15 at one point. Team captains Diaz, Kalaf and Nakos did a good job in the final quarter sealing the victory.
With the win, the Tigers improved their record to 9-5 and 9-3 in 4A Western Slope League play on the season, while the Devils dropped to 3-7 and 2-7 in league play.
As of Sunday afternoon, Summit ranked 20th in the 4A Ratings Percentage Index, the metric used to seed the 32-team state tournament. The tournament was cut down to 32 teams from 48 due to the shortened season because of COVID-19. The Tigers will find out Monday who they will play in the first round of the playoffs, which could take place as early as Tuesday and will most likely be on the road.
“I feel like our team has a very good chance coming this week because we are playing some of our best basketball,” Buller said. “The home game against Rifle, a team that plays a lot of zone, we moved the ball to get good shots. And last night, playing a team mainly man-to-man, we got up and down and scored points. …We are going to make a good challenge for somebody.”
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