Young Tigers looking to rebound after boys basketball team graduates 9 seniors last year
The Summit High School varsity boys basketball team is filled with new faces as they enter the 2021-22 season. After making the playoffs last season with a 9-6 record, the Tigers boys basketball team graduated nine seniors on the 12-man varsity roster.
The special group of nine seniors — which consisted of Hector Diaz, Tyler Nakos, Cam Kalaf, Kobe Cortright, Andrew Duxbury, Banta Sylla, Ian Connors, Marcus Popoff and Naz Poliukwas — were able to lead the Tigers to the first round of the playoffs last March, but unfortunately lost in a hard fought battle to Golden 77-60.
Head coach Jordan Buller, who is starting his sixth year as head coach of the Tigers, knew that losing this group of seniors would be hard on the team going into the 2021-22 season. However Buller is looking to pick up where the team left off last year.
Buller conducted the first week of tryouts and practice for the Tigers basketball team this past week. Buller said that this year was one of the most challenging years of tryouts he has ever held.
“There were a lot of kids out there trying out,” Buller said. “It was probably the most kids I have seen trying out for Summit basketball. It was a really tough year to make cuts, a lot of guys really wanted it.”
With less than two weeks to go until the Tigers’ home opener on Nov. 30 against Buena Vista, the team is searching for the next group of leaders as the players take the court. Buller is confident that the team will find them, as he saw a good collection of guys begin to emerge in tryouts.
“We have a lot of promise, a lot of good athletes, we have a lot of size.” Buller said. “I think we are going to give some people problems on the defensive side, and that’s exciting for me.”
The Tigers will rely on their three returning seniors as well as underclassmen to lead the the team toward hopefully another state playoff appearance.
Seniors Ephraim Overstreet, Mac Scroggins and Jac Crowe will be the veterans on and off the court for the Tigers.
“They all spent the whole year not playing a lot of minutes, busting their butts last year to develop,” Buller said. “They also all spent a lot of time in the gym this summer.”
According to Buller, the Tigers will also look to developing the talent of Matthew Valdez and Emilio Jain. Both will look to step into their roles on the varsity squad and grow as basketball players.
By no means does coach Buller consider this a year to rebuild the basketball program.
“I am trying to create a program that plays at a high level every year no matter who is in, or who is hurt, or what happens,” Buller said. “We have been able to establish this the past five years and everyone on the varsity team is ready to step into that mentality of expecting to win, expecting to compete every night and playing good basketball.”
Buller says that a state playoff appearance is still an expectation for the boys basketball team even with the team looking a lot different than last year’s.
“I think anything is possible this year with our size and athleticism.” Buller said. “We all realize it’s going to be a fight but at the same time we have a good group and the playoffs are the goal.”
The Tigers will talk more about their goals for the season among themselves at practice Monday, but Buller says it is an expectation that the team competes every night so they will find themselves in the position to be in the top half of the conference and in the playoffs at the end of the season.
Nov. 23: Scrimmage at Evergreen, 5 p.m.
Nov. 30: Home game against Buena Vista, 7 p.m.
Dec. 3-4: Junior varsity and varsity tournament at Kent Denver, 7 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 7: Away game against Middle Park, 7 p.m.
Dec. 8: Away game against Arrupe Jesuit, 7 p.m.
Dec. 10-11: Varsity tournament at Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Dec. 18: Away game against Moffat County, TBD
Jan 4: Home game against JFK, 7 p.m.
Jan. 6: Home game against Basalt, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11: Away game against Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.
Jan 13: Away game against Eagle Valley, 7 p.m.
Jan. 14: Home game against Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21: Home game against Palisade, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22: Home game against Rifle, 2 p.m.
Jan. 28: Home game against Steamboat Springs, 7 p.m.
Feb. 1: Home game against Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.
Feb. 2: Away game against Steamboat Springs, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4: Away game against Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Feb. 8: Away game against Rifle, 7 p.m.
Feb. 12: Home game against. Eagle Valley, 2 p.m.
Feb. 15: Away game against Palisade, 7 p.m.
Feb. 23: First round playoffs, TBD
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