SHS boys win an emotional one on Senior Night
FARMER’S KORNER – Only three times in 29 years has Summit High School boys basketball coach Mike Rathgeber had a water jug dumped on his head by his players.The first two times, his (non-SHS) teams advanced to the state quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. The third occurred Friday night, after the Tigers beat Jeffco League rival Elizabeth 62-47 in what was likely their final home game of this memorable and altogether unexpected season.It was an emotional evening – Senior Night always is – but a hotly contested matchup between the desperate Cardinals (7-14, 1-6 Jeffco) and suddenly red-hot Tigers (14-7, 4-3 Jeffco) left no room for celebration until after the final buzzer had sounded.
When it did, Summit’s players saluted their unusually boisterous fans and then dunked Rathgeber in the locker room.”Who knows where this group can go, but they’re setting the bar so high for this program right now,” the teary-eyed coach said, his voice wavering. “We talked about it, ‘Set the bar high so that you’re the standard against which every team after you is measured.’ And that’s what they did.”Point guard Tucker Shelden led a senior-heavy scoring column with a game-high 18 points. He was joined in double figures by his fellow senior Sean Linfield (15 points) and junior Ryan George (11).
Senior Ryan Eberhart scored eight points but made his biggest contribution on defense, helping shut down Elizabeth’s star center, 6-foot-6 Brian Sackel, who came in averaging 23 points per game.Sackel finished with only 10 points – and just four in the second half, when Summit overcame a 23-21 halftime deficit and won the game – and was irritated to the point of elbowing Eberhart during a timeout, although the officials didn’t see it.After the physical and at times testy game, Shelden lingered a little longer than usual, soaking in the moment along with his fellow seniors, which also included Bryce Krampert, John Thiel and Kellan Folkers.
“No other feeling like it,” Shelden said. “We had more heart in the end.”Rathgeber said, “There are not enough superlatives for this team. They rank way up there. When you think about how this year was supposed to go and how it’s playing out – and it ain’t even over. It ain’t even over!”Summit’s next game is at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Monday afternoon against Golden.
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