Summit lets upset slip late against No. 4 Rifle, 51-67 |

Summit lets upset slip late against No. 4 Rifle, 51-67

Summit vs. Rifle, boys

1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

Summit 19 10 11 11 51

Rifle 14 18 11 24 67

FRISCO — You know that saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?” Summit learned it the hard way against Rifle on Friday night. There were even a few explosions to drive the point home.

For about 28 of 32 minutes, the boy’s basketball team stayed neck and neck with a smart and precise Rifle team (15-1 overall, 10-0 league) that’s currently ranked No. 1 in the 4A Western Slope and No. 4 in the state. The Tigers were hitting threes like never before and changing their game plan on a whim. When Rifle shut down the post attack, Summit moved outside of the arc. When Rifle started defending the three, Summit adapted with drives in the paint and steals at midcourt.

Everything was clicking for the Tigers on senior night: passing, shooting, defense, smart aggression. Every last starter and bench player was attacking the court with passion, all in the hopes of dethroning the Bears after a lopsided 35-67 loss on Dec. 19.

The upset of the season was in sight and the senior night crowd could feel it. The Tigers led after the first quarter, 19-14, helped along by all-star drives from junior Eddie Jain and pinpoint shooting from senior Riley Beck. The senior had six three-pointers in the game to nearly beat a school record — shades of Megan McDonnell earlier in the week against Glenwood Springs, when she broke the single-game scoring record with a whopping 27 points.

Summit slowly let Rifle outshoot them in the second quarter, but it was far from a blowout. They entered the locker room down by just three at the half, 29-32. Head coach Paul Koslovsky’s team wasn’t quite controlling the momentum, but for the first time since beating Eagle Valley at home on Jan. 8 they were adapting to a high-level team — and earning their respect along the way.

“Kudos to Rifle,” Koslovsky said. “They played their game and they make the other team play their game, and we submitted to that in the end.”

Then, down by six points with four minutes remaining, Summit released the pin on the proverbial hand grenade. Too bad it landed nowhere near the basket. The Tigers committed foul after foul in the home stretch, including two at midcourt and one in Bears territory.

That was a major mistake against Rifle. In less than a minute, the Bears went 7-for-8 with free throws en route to a whopping 24 points in the final quarter. With about one minute left, tensions reached a boiling point as fans on both sides of the hardwood started trading snarky chants: “You can’t do that,” from the Rifle bench after fouls, followed by a much louder, much more frustrated echo when Summit Jain finally drew one of his own.

By then, though, it was too little, too late. The 7-for-8 run put the Bears up, 67-51, when the referees decided to call the game with 30 seconds remaining due to aggression on both sides. All told, Summit committed 13 fouls in the second half, with five coming in the final two minutes. Points scored during the game-ending meltdown: two.

“The fourth quarter got sloppy,” Koslovsky said. “We had a few guys who wanted to take it into their own hands and that doesn’t always work.”

The Summit boys shook hands with Rifle and entered the locker room fuming. You could feel the prickly electricity in the air. After a brief cool down away from the fans and parents and confusion, Koslovsky says his team reached a sort of “catharsis” — a calm after the explosion.

“We went toe-to-toe with the best guys in our league and we knew it,” Koslovsky said. “We can win these last few games. I absolutely think that can happen.”

The boy’s team next faces Eagle Valley (5-10 overall, 3-6 league) in Gypsum on Feb. 2.

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