Summit High School boys basketball extends win streak at Moffat County
FRISCO — It took another strong second-half comeback, but after midgame adjustments, the Summit High School varsity boys basketball team defeated Moffat County on the road 56-40 Thursday night.
The game was tied at halftime 20-20 after Summit started slow and Moffat held a 14-11 lead after the first quarter. But in the second quarter, the Tigers blew out the Bulldogs 36-20 off the strength of what has become their bread and butter this season: aggressive defense fueling the pace of offensive opportunities in transition.
“We played a little zone to start with,” Tigers head coach Jordan Buller said. “And as the game wore on, we realized man-to-man would do better for us. So we switched to man part way through the second quarter, and I think the depth of our bench bothered their guards. We took advantage of our speed and not their height.”
Buller was proud of the performance junior point guard Hector Diaz put forth, the athletic playmaker leading the team with 16 points on the offensive end to pair with his ball-pressure defense on the other end of the floor. The coach also singled-out Diaz’s timely steals in the third quarter, his penchant to attack the basket and finish at the free-throw line throughout the second half and his two pivotal 3-pointers in the final quarter.
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Out on the wing, Diaz was complemented by the play of seniors Ben Rider and Corbin Furrey and junior March Popoff, who excelled in the second half at getting into Moffat’s passing lanes. On the backside of the Tigers’ aggressive man-to-man defense, Buller felt Thursday was a night when senior captain Dylan Huston did well to rotate and help his teammates inside the paint. Huston also had a standout showing on the glass as junior forward Cam Kalaf was second on the team with 10 points and Furrey added eight of his own.
Once Summit took the lead in the second half, the team made it a point in its half-court sets to spread the ball and create shot opportunities for the athletic Kalaf from the middle of the floor.
With the win, the Tigers improved their record to 9-6 on the season and 4-1 in 4A Western Slope conference play. The victory set Summit up for a big conference matchup Friday night at Steamboat Springs, where the Sailors entered the matchup with a 9-8 record and 5-1 in conference play. Entering the night, both teams trailed Glenwood Springs, which Summit is scheduled to host at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Buller knows victories over Steamboat and Glenwood would be hard to come by. But if they did manifest, they would go a long way to bolstering the Tigers’ conference championship hopes as well as their designs on a berth in the 4A state tournament.
Dec. 11: vs. Middle Park, 7 p.m.
Dec. 12: vs. Evergreen, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18: at West Grand, 7 p.m.
Dec. 20: vs. Conifer, 7 p.m.
Jan. 9: vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11: vs. Palisade, 2 p.m.
Jan. 14: at Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.
Jan. 17: vs. Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21: vs. Buena Vista, 7 p.m.
Jan. 23: vs. Rifle, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25: at Palisade, 2 p.m.
Jan. 28: vs. Rifle, 7 p.m.
Jan. 30: at Moffat County, 7 p.m.
Jan. 31: at Steamboat Springs, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4: vs. Glenwood Springs
Feb. 7: at Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Feb. 11: at Rifle, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13: at Lake County, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 15: at Eagle Valley, 2 p.m.
Feb. 22: vs. Steamboat Springs
In Buller’s four years coaching the program, Summit’s best year was a 10-win season two years ago. Before Buller took the coaching role, he said it’d been at least a decade since the Tigers won 10 games, meaning a state-tournament berth this year would be huge for the program.
That said, the Tigers are approaching each challenge day by day, game by game. Leading the way are seniors in Huston, Rider and Furrey, who were a part of the program when Summit missed the 4A state tournament two years ago by just one spot.
As of Friday afternoon, Buller said Summit ranks at about 30th in 4A in the state with eight games remaining. The way the state tournament works, seeds one through 16 get byes while the top 32 teams get to host home games.
But for now, Summit is focused on a loaded conference slate ahead featuring the road tilt at Steamboat on Friday, the home game versus Glenwood on Tuesday, a Wednesday night marquee matchup at home against rival Battle Mountain and a road game at Battle on Friday, Feb. 7.
“All varsity teams want to participate in that,” Buller said. “But we try not to pay attention to it because we know the (Rating Percentage Index) ranking can adjust dramatically based on how your opponents do. We’ve been talking as a team, trying to be real within our group that there’s a good possibility we are going to see some postseason play this year. So we’re pushing the guys every game to come out and improve on a few things they need to improve on.”
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