Tigers get back to basics on defense, beat Pirates
ENGLEWOOD – One night after playing a lackluster brand of basketball at home, the Summit High School boys hoops team made up for its shortcomings and then some on the road, routing Englewood by 20 points to resume its pre-holiday winning ways.The Tigers (7-3) beat their Jeffco League foe Pirates 50-30 in a nonleague contest Tuesday that was the second of four games they’ll play this week in the Jeffco/Denver Prep League Tournament. Summit never trailed in the game, outscoring Englewood 9-1 in the first quarter and coasting the rest of the way thanks to a defensive effort that had coach Mike Rathgeber singing like his long-lost dog had finally come home.”This is without a doubt our best defensive effort in quite some time,” he said. “We talked about maybe we’re depending on our offense too much and we have to get back to our bread-and-butter. And that’s sure as heck what we did.”
Ditching their normal zone defense in favor of a man-to-man look, the Tigers shut down Englewood’s own bread-and-butter, limiting the Pirates (2-6) to just a pair of 3-pointers instead of the half-dozen or more that they usually get. “I just felt like we needed to go man-up and see who’s not playing defense, see where the weak link is,” said Rathgeber, who called the Tigers’ previous two defensive efforts “pathetic” after watching them on tape. “There was no weak link.”SHS senior Sean Linfield knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 15 points, while Ryan George scored 12 off the bench after going scoreless the previous evening. Jordan Sitkoski added eight, and point guard Tucker Shelden shrugged off a broken nose sustained in the second quarter to chip in four points, six rebounds and three assists.
The victory came one day after the Tigers lost by 16 points, 67-51, to 5A Kennedy at home. Shelden scored 16 points in that contest, and Linfield and Joe Felton added 11 and 10, respectively. Summit was vastly outplayed in the second half after Kennedy woke up from an early game slumber.Rathgeber called the visitors’ first-half play “uninspired and unmotivated,” but Summit failed to take advantage due to a lackluster effort of its own, the coach said.”We should have completely knocked them out in the first half with the way they played,” he said. “It was a very disappointing performance on our part. We had players who did not show up to play last night. We had kids that were not in the building (mentally).”
The Tigers led most of the first half but were outscored by 13 points in the second, after Kennedy found a spark.Summit now has two tough games at home – Denver South on Thursday and Ranum on Saturday – to complete a busy week before kicking off its league schedule next week. Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-4633, or at email@example.com.
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