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Strong finish not enough for Summit

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

FARMER’S KORNER – For the final 8 minutes of the game, there was no doubt about it: Summit High was the better team on the floor.

The Tigers swarmed 5A Westminster on their defensive end, found a flow on offense and finished the fourth quarter on a 17-5 run.

Sure, Summit still lost 63-47 at home Wednesday, but the 21-15 score in the final quarter showed SHS head coach Mark Ruybal what he’d been waiting to see from his team all season.

“They grew up tonight, and I’m glad that they responded to what we’ve talked about in handling adversity,” Ruybal said. ” … (Westminster) was a team that talked trash; they shoved and pushed. We didn’t back down.”

Instead, the young Summit squad – with four freshmen in its rotation – had arguably its best game of the season.

Junior Keynan Roggasch scored a career-high 17 points and freshman guard Coy Coker scored nine to help Summit put up its highest offensive output in its first 10 games.

“We did a lot better than we have in past games,” Roggasch said simply. “We’re working a lot better as a team.”

And that teamwork contributed to the solid night for Summit.

The Tigers had seven different players score points on the night, and, maybe more impressively, Summit finally found a way to maneuver past an opponent’s full-court press.

Westminster hounded the Tigers in the backcourt to start the game, but some quick passing and good decision making led to a couple easy Summit baskets. Westminster was ultimately forced to settle back into a half-court defense.

“When you make teams have to change, that’s a good thing,” Ruybal said.

Roggasch scored all six Tiger points in the opening quarter, while Summit swarmed Westminster on defense, giving up only 13.

In a back-and-forth second quarter, it appeared that Westminster would pull away from Summit a number of times, but the resilient Tigers kept responding.

Senior Ross Jackson hit a driving reverse layup and Roggasch knocked in a put-back layup off an offensive board on the final play of the half to send a stunned Westminster to the locker room with only a 26-14 lead.

“Westminster is a 5A team that came in here thinking, ‘Oh, this is a 4A team,’ and I think our intensity shocked them a little bit,” Ruybal said. “We kept ourselves in a position to be competitive.”

That didn’t change in the second half.

Three 3-point baskets from Coker kept the game close in the third, before the team exploded offensively in the final quarter.

Junior point guard Charlie Whittaker knocked down three free throws, and freshmen Nolan Rookey, Connor Hebert and Markeith McDonald all drilled 3-pointers in the closing minutes.

The late-game outburst wasn’t enough to give the Tigers their second win of the season, but it did help to give them something they haven’t had much of this year – confidence.

“It’s going up now,” Roggasch said. “It’s getting better. … Tonight definitely helps.”

Ruybal knew before the season that it may take his team a while to break out into its own. After Wednesday night, he was certainly glad to see it happen.

“I have confidence in the boys, and they are not the type of kids that will quit or get down on themselves,” the coach said. “I’m proud of the boys and I’m sure they’re proud of themselves.”

The Tigers don’t have much time savor that finish, though, as they are right back in action Friday night at home against league-foe Conifer. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.


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