Third quarter rally propels undefeated Steamboat to win over Summit boys basketball
Watch: Tigers drop to 5-3 in league play with loss, next play Thursday
A dominant third-quarter offensive outburst led undefeated Steamboat Springs to a 58-47 road win over the Summit High School varsity boys basketball team Tuesday night.
The Sailors scored double-digit unanswered points at the start of the second half to turn a one-point deficit at the half into a commanding lead they’d never relinquish. Steamboat was able to ratchet up their defense and limit the Tigers’ ability to create good looks on offense, while imposing Sailors senior Eric Pollert scored six of his game-high 22 points to help give Steamboat a 43-33 lead at the end of a third quarter in which they outscored the Tigers 19-8.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward Pollert did more than just score against the Tigers. With Summit’s defense collapsing down on the frontcourt force, Steamboat was able to dictate the second half effort and energy en route to a win that puts them in a commanding position to win the regular-season 4A Western Slope League title.
“Having him as a threat weakens the whole defense,” Tigers senior Andrew Duxbury said. “It shows us we need to think more and work and get around someone like that, which was our biggest problem.”
Summit’s big men did its best to prevent Pollert from catching the basketball in dangerous locations on the floor. Though the team did an admirable job at times, the reality was Pollert was just too much to deny. When going up against a player 60 pounds heavier — and 2 inches taller — there was only so much center Ephraim Overstreet and 6-foot-3 Kobe Cortright could do.
“They kind of stung us in the beginning of the game and we battled back, the guys fought back in the first half, so I was proud of our effort, but part of the game plan was to front the big kid and make it hard on (Steamboat’s Jacob Kreissing) to get to the basket,” Tigers head coach Jordan Buller said. “I felt like we did a good job of stopping him, but he had a couple of tough ones over the top where our big guy wasn’t quite in the right position, and he got the ball in low where we were trying to keep it out of, and he finished strong.”
Summit senior captain Cam Kalaf was a standout player for the Tigers in a second quarter where the Tigers took the halftime lead via outscoring Steamboat 18-11 after senior captain Tyler Nakos (16 points) vocally riled up his teammates during a timeout. Kalaf scored six points in the quarter, including a 3-point shot, and always seemed to be in the right position making the perfect play at the ideal time. Buller said Kalaf’s play, especially on the offensive end, was a reflection of the senior “gamer” taking to heart the coaching staff’s message of being more efficient with his moves and decision making.
“He’s a great athlete who likes to step up in big games,” Buller said. “With his quickness and athleticism we felt we could take advantage of their forwards guarding him, especially from the elbow. … In the first half, his timing was almost impeccable, and the guards did a good job getting the ball where he needed it.”
Once the second half started up, Buller said Steamboat Springs “imposed their will” and showed why the team is still undefeated. While Buller said the Tigers’ defense slipped in the third quarter, the team’s true undoing was struggling to find a secondary option when the initial offensive opportunities they got in the first half were shut down by Steamboat after halftime.
Despite the struggles, Duxbury was seemingly everywhere on the court for the Tigers, as the do-everything garbage man attacked passing lanes for steals, hounded the glass for rebounds and hustled for ideal positioning in search of scoring opportunities for his team.
“My biggest thing is I try to forget about the score — I really don’t care,” Duxbury said. “I do think about what I need to do, and not let anything around me affect that. The scoreboard doesn’t affect what you’re doing, so figure out out how to push around that.”
The loss drops Summit’s record down to 5-4 and in a third-place 5-3 in 4A Western Slope League play ahead of their home game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, versus Battle Mountain (0-8, 0-6). Steamboat’s win maintains the Sailors’ 2-game advantage in the win column at the top of the 4A Western Slope standings, improving their record to 9-0 and 8-0 in league play ahead of a home game Saturday versus Glenwood Springs (3-5, 2-4).
The Tigers girls varsity team (2-7-1-6) did not play Tuesday versus Steamboat Springs due to a COVID-19 quarantine within the Sailors program. The girl team is next scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at home versus Battle Mountain (5-3, 4-2).
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