Watch: Offensive execution fuels Summit boys basketball win over Palisade

Girls basketball falls to Bulldogs 42-23

Summit Tigers boys basketball senior captain Cam Kalaf scores at the basket versus Palisade in the Tigers' home win over the Bulldogs Saturday, Feb. 20 at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Photo by Liz Duxbury

Summit High School varsity boys basketball coach Jordan Buller preached a “pay to play” mantra to his Tigers ahead of their 61-46 win over Palisade on Saturday afternoon.

Buller’s mantra was for the Tigers (5-3, 5-2 4A Western Slope League) to make the Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2) pay for Palisade’s strategy of full-court pressure. If the Bulldogs wanted to be aggressive on defense, the Tigers were going to take advantage of any over-aggressiveness and turn the pace of the game into ideal transition buckets.

“I felt like we handled the press better than the first time against them,” Buller said. “It was nice to see our guards starting to understand where we can push the ball and where we can try and have the idea of ‘pay to play’ if you press. I felt like we got a couple easy looks off that, which was nice.”

Buller knew Palisade was going to come in hungry, and with lots of energy, and he was happy with senior captain guards Hector Diaz and Tyler Nakos’ ability to control the pace of the game and maintain control of the ball. Buller was also proud of how co-captain Cam Kalaf and Andrew Duxbury brought the passion from the get-go, leading to a commanding early lead.

“Dux is a really big-time gamer who’s not afraid of the moment and loves the game and loves to compete,” Buller said. “I feel like those guys really stepped up to the competition because Palisade is a tough team, and we needed a tough attitude.”

Nakos powered the Tigers in the first half, scoring 12 points during the first two quarters and leading the team with 15 points. He said it was full-game effort where he and his teammates were driven to avenge a road loss earlier in the season to the Bulldogs.

“For me it was about attacking the basket and getting the tone set right,” Nakos said.

Summit led 25-19 at the half. Summit’s bigs were forced to be physical and have ideal positioning against a Bulldog team adept at rushing in and securing rebounds off the glass.

In the second half, the Tigers maintained their aggression on both ends and grew their lead to 47-30 after a 22-point third quarter. The quarter features a strong bounceback shot on the offensive end by Summit sharpshooter Naz Poliuk, who failed to score in the first half. Poliuk, who finished with 12 points, scored his first bucket on an attack to the basket, which opened up three 3-point scores for the senior to cushion Summit’s lead.

“We tell Naz to keep shooting all the time, it’s going to go down eventually,” Buller said. “He’s too good of a shooter to miss all game. At halftime I heard a number of our guys encouraging him to keep putting shots up.”

Summit continued to excel on offense through the remainder of the game.

Buller thinks the team is finally settling into a new offensive system after they weren’t able to work on it much over the summer due to pandemic restrictions. Diaz and the rest of the Tigers guards weathered and attacked Palisade’s pressure defense, showcasing the toughness Buller wanted to see to finish the game.

“The guys are skilled out there, but it takes mental fortitude to get through tough defensive players and find shots we want,” the coach said.

Summit is now tied for second in the conference standings with Palisade. The team next scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 at home versus first-place Steamboat Springs (8-0, 7-0).

Tigers girls can’t keep up with Bulldogs post play

The Tigers girls basketball team (2-7, 1-6) lost 42-23 Saturday to Palisade (6-3, 4-2) in a game where Bulldogs bigs Elizabeth Hawkins and Alexis Marushack combined for 23 points. All 13 of Hawkins’ team-leading 13 points came in the second half.

After a slow offensive start, Summit recovered in the second quarter to knot up the game 11-11 at halftime.

“I don’t love playing zone, but when you play a team like that where we don’t matchup well you’re pretty much forced to,” Tigers head coach Kayle Walker-Burns said. “I thought we did a good job shutting down the bigs in the first half, but in the second half — I don’t feel like it was a lack of effort or intensity, maybe Palisade shots were falling better than us. It was an off night, and you can’t score 23 points and win a game, usually.”

In the game that was a tough player-to-player matchup for the outsized Tigers, Summit sophomore point guard Kelley Duffy played with confidence against Palisade’s pressure, scoring 7 points with two 3-pointers to lead the Tigers.

“She hit big shots, was confident in her shooting, so I’m excited for her to play the rest of the season and two more years,” Walker-Burns said.

The Tigers girls will also return to action at home at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday versus Steamboat Springs (1-8. 1-6).

Autumn Rivera of Summit takes the opening tip for the Tigers in the team's loss Saturday at home versus Palisade at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Photo by Liz Duxbury

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