Tigers fall short against experienced Rifle | SummitDaily.com

Tigers fall short against experienced Rifle

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Freshman Samantha Neal runs the ball up court in the late stages of the fourth quarter Tuesday evening at Farmer's Korner, while Rifle's Kristin Neffendorf tries to contain her. The Tigers ended up losing the game on their home court, 64-58.

FARMER’S KORNER – A monster night from Shannon Buhler wasn’t enough for the Summit High School girls basketball team to get past preseason top-10 Rifle Tuesday night, as the Tigers dropped their second game of the year, 64-58.Buhler scored 26 points to go along with 16 rebounds, eight steals and three assists, carrying the Tigers at times in the game. Nineteen of her points came in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter.But Summit (4-2), which pulled to within one with five minutes to go in the game, didn’t have quite enough gas at the end to hold off the Bears (2-1).”It’s definitely a bummer loss, but it shows that we’re a tough team,” Buhler said. “We just need to put it together for all four quarters.” If there was one period the Tigers didn’t do that, it was the opener. Rifle jumped on top 18-4, and Summit’s players seemed to doubt whether they belonged in the same game as the Bears.

Even though the Tigers rebounded with a 15-2 run of their own, they had fallen behind in what would become a your-turn-my-turn game of runs by both teams.”I told the girls that if we don’t come out and start poorly, I think we win that game,” first-year SHS coach Jeff Neal said. “Against the good teams we really need to get off to a good start.”Buhler said she thought the team was nervous, and that was why it came out flat, but Neal shouldered much of the blame himself. “I need to do a better job at getting them ready to play the game,” he said, “because it’s been a really consistent them for us every game.”Down 47-38 near the start of the fourth quarter, Buhler nailed a pair of 3’s to get her team within three. Then junior Amanda Neal (15 points) hit a jumper to make it 47-46.

But right when it seemed Summit was ready to pull into the lead, Rifle responded with three straight layups and never allowed the hosts to get closer than five the rest of the way.As much as the comeback run was Summit’s biggest positive Tuesday night, it also prevented anything further.”It just took most of our energy,” said Tigers point guard Cissy Daniels, “so when it came to the end of the game we couldn’t finish.”Daniels scored nine points and dished out five assists against Rifle, adding to Buhler and Neal’s scoring exploits. Neal also grabbed six rebounds in the loss.Freshman Samantha Neal, Amanda’s younger sister, endured her toughest game to date. The guard entered the game averaging 16.6 points per game – good for No. 5 in the state’s 4A class – but she hit only one shot from beyond the arc and struggled to create scoring opportunities otherwise. Her 15 3’s going into the game led the state.

“I told her when they start yelling ‘shooter,’ you get a reputation and you have to find other ways to score,” said the coach Neal of his younger daughter, who scored seven points. “She needs to learn how to get to the basket better, like Shannon was down the stretch.”Seniors Haley Hubbell and Renee Laudick each scored 14 points to lead Rifle, which controlled the rebounding glass for much of the game. Summit will play St. Mary’s Academy on the road Friday, and despite Tuesday’s loss, the chance to end a surprising nonleague run on a good note hasn’t escaped the Tigers’ minds.”We need to come out and take care of that game, and I’ll be really satisfied at 5-2 going into the break,” coach Neal said.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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