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Summit starts postseason off right

Jason Starr

FARMER’S KORNER – This is when the Summit High School girls basketball team stepped up its game last year, and if Tuesday night was any indication, this is when they’ll do it again.

The Tigers earned a spot in the great Metro League postseason dance with its third blowout of St. Mary’s this season. The 58-26 win ended the Wildcats’ season in the first round of the district tournament and vaulted Summit (13-7) into today’s round-two match with Elizabeth. Three of the final four Metro League teams will move on to the regional round, and a team needs to lose twice to be eliminated.

If this all sounds familiar it’s because the district bracket has set up just about exactly the same as it did last year, when the Tigers, who have now won four straight, beat Elizabeth to advance to regionals.

It’s basically the same Summit team, only now the core – Amanda Groneman, Abi Beer, Lauren Letourneau, Jaime Dunning – is in its final year, just months from graduation.

“We’re going to play the best basketball we can, and if we do that, that will carry us right through the state championship,” Groneman said. “As long as we keep playing this type of basketball, I think we’ll get there.”

That’s the “hold-the-opposing-team-to-two-points-in-the-first-quarter-and-four-in-the-fourth” type of game that the Tigers displayed Tuesday. Oh, and they forced a whopping 28 turnovers.

“Playing tough defense,” Groneman explained, “whether the steals come or not, is important. And that’s a strength. Everyone playing tough defense is something we can do against any team.”

Of course Elizabeth and the upper tier of the Metro League are not as turnover prone as St. Mary’s. Summit has lost two close games to the Cardinals this year.

“It won’t be exactly the same,” said seventh-year SHS coach Leonard Grams. “But as long as we are taking some risks and making some reads, we can do that against anybody.”

Summit also got some solid offense, hitting exactly half the field goals it attempted. Groneman led the way with 18 points. The rest of the Tigers’ scorers – Dolly Fiedelman, Letourneau and Beer – each matched Groneman’s jersey number with 13.

Dunning was out of action with a sprained ankle and freshman Shannon Buhler saw most of her minutes, playing the type of rebounding and defensive game the Tigers will need if Dunning does not return in time to make a difference. Sophomore Megen Skulski also filled in the gaps.

“Jaime has more experience and an overall reading of the game,” Grams said. “But both of them (Buhler and Skulski) are good athletes. Shannon can be one of the quickest players on the court when she’s reading the game.”

Just because the district bracket looks like last year’s doesn’t mean the Tigers will be happy with last year’s results – they reached the district final and lost a regional game.

This year, the Tigers don’t plan on losing again.

“We want to win our last game of the season,” Groneman said. “And the only way to do that is to go all the way.”

True, the Tigers had the same lofty desires last season, but last season, there was always the promise of this season.

“I don’t think we played with a lot of confidence all the time,” Grams said of last year’s team. “There was a mentality of, ‘well, next year’s the year we’re gonna do it.'”

With Groneman, Dunning, Letourneau and Beer on the cusp of graduation, the Tigers realize that next year is now.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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