Neal’s 25 leads Tiger girls to first league win of year |

Neal’s 25 leads Tiger girls to first league win of year

Devon O'Neil

EDGEWATER – Samantha Neal already has had a great freshman season. Friday the Summit High School guard swished her first attempt at carrying the SHS girls basketball team when the usual suspects were unavailable.Neal scored a career-high 25 points as sickness- and injury-depleted Summit overcame an 18-16 halftime deficit against upstart Jefferson to win its first 4A Jeffco League game of the season, 47-34 on the road.Eighteen of Neal’s points came in the second half, 12 on a quartet of 3-pointers. She scored 24 points in a game earlier this season, but had struggled lately. Friday, with upperclassmen Shannon Buhler, Cissy Daniels and Amanda Neal (Samantha’s older sister) either sick or injured, the freshman stepped up at just the right time.”Overall I’m pleased with it,” SHS coach Jeff Neal said of the win, which improved Summit’s record to 11-6 overall and 1-2 in Jeffco. “We’ve been sick and Amanda’s still out. I was proud of the comeback in the second half.”Buhler, like Daniels and sophomore Lynlee Holloway, was fighting the flu. Yet she still managed 10 points – all of which, incredibly, came on free throws. Daniels and Holloway each added six, despite their maladies.Summit struggled early against the Saints (5-10, 0-3) due to poor shooting. “We couldn’t shoot a lick,” Jeff Neal said. But thanks to Neal’s hot hand in the second half and some strong bench play, the Tigers survived to rebound from a frustrating opening to their league schedule.Both Holloway and sophomore Emily George finished with double-digit rebound totals, and Whitney Degerberg and Allie Esparza chipped in with valuable bench minutes of their own.Summit has a couple days off now, before getting back on the floor Tuesday night at home against Alameda. Coach Neal said Amanda Neal should be ready to return from a right shoulder injury that has kept her in street clothes the last two games.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or

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