Holy height! Tall Tigers have lofty goals
FARMER’S KORNER – A funny sight broke out last week at the Summit High School boys basketball team’s practice.The players lined up like they would for a layup drill, then, one by one, they took turns dunking. They smiled and joked as they yoked. Each tried to top the others. It went on like this for about five minutes, their springboard legs thrusting them high in the air before they threw it down. Even the guards took part.Suffice to say, it was not your average Summit High boys hoops practice. Then again, this is not your average Summit High boys hoops team.The Tigers are as tall as their aspirations, boasting three players 6-foot-4 or taller and aiming for nothing short of the breakthrough season that their senior-laden talent suggests they’re capable of.”Our goals are very, very lofty,” said third-year head coach Mike Rathgeber, who led the team to an 11-9 regular season record last year. “There’s no reason we can’t win Jeffco. There’s nobody on the schedule that I can honestly tell you is head and shoulders better than us, which has never been the case.”
As senior forward Mike Holloway put it, “We want to get the program back on top – if it ever was there.”Until last year, the recent SHS boys hoops tradition had been ugly. Last season’s regular season record was an enormous improvement from the previous year’s 3-win campaign. And if things go as Rathgeber and his players think they can, this year there could be an equal upswing in store.Holloway, an athletic lefty who rebounds with the best of them, will be joined on the low blocks by 6-6 senior Garrison Green. Green came on strong last year and has worked hard on his post game in the offseason. He ate well, putting on about 15 pounds, but even more importantly, he finally appears confident that the lane belongs to him.The team spent much of its summer barnstorming in- and out-of-state camps, competing against big, strong and talented opponents. The exposure seemed to harden the players, perhaps nobody more than Green.”Playing people bigger than you helps you become tougher inside,” he said. “We played against a guy that was 6-10 (at the Mesa State camp) and against some big Texas farm boys that can push you around (at the Texas Tech camp, where Summit finished a surprising second).”Seniors Kylor Dossett and Aaron George will start in the backcourt, Dossett at point guard and George at shooting guard. In addition to their versatile offensive abilities, both are excellent on-the-ball defenders.
A key to watch as the season wears on will be how much Dossett creates his own shots, compared to how much he devotes the possession to getting others the ball.Last season he was sometimes spectacular when he penetrated, making the shot more often than not, but some felt he didn’t do it enough.The small forward starter has yet to be determined, Rathgeber said, though one can expect to see plenty of 6-3 senior Ben Clark, sophomore Clint Hamilton and junior Jordan McCarthy.Rathgeber also has on his bench 6-7 senior Marc Miller, who hasn’t played since sixth grade but could provide critical depth come February, and senior guard Chris Nowakiwsky.The Tigers have eight seniors on their roster, most of whom have played together since middle school, so chemistry should be a strength. And the contest to see who can be the first to dunk in a game provides what Green called “the entertainment factor.” Rathgeber said one of the No. 1 goals is to break the school record for wins (15), though Holloway said they’re shooting for more like 17 or 18.
Still, the coach cautioned, “We’ve never been the hunted.”At the top of the list of circled dates on Summit’s schedule are a Jan. 21 road date at Ralston Valley, and a Feb. 9 home game with Golden.As Rathgeber said, however, there isn’t a team on the schedule the Tigers can’t beat. “This is it,” said Green. “This is our final chance, so we’ve got to make something happen.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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