Tigers hold on at St. Mary’s to get to 5-2 | SummitDaily.com

Tigers hold on at St. Mary’s to get to 5-2

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

DENVER ” Few thought the Summit High School girls basketball team would have won five games before the holiday break, but that’s just what the Tigers did Friday night with a nailbiting win over St. Mary’s, 53-50.

Junior Amanda Neal’s free throw put Summit up by three with seven seconds to go, and a St. Mary’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer couldn’t find net, giving the Tigers the win.

Summit now will enter the meat of its schedule in January with a 5-2 record. St. Mary’s fell to 4-3 with its first loss at home.

“It was one of those games that I think is going to pay real dividends down the stretch and in our conference play,” said first-year SHS coach Jeff Neal.

St. Mary’s, which beat Colorado Academy ” one of the two teams to defeat Summit this year ” jumped out to an early lead, but couldn’t hold it. The Tigers stormed back to take a 31-21 lead into halftime, then built the cushion to 17 midway through the third quarter.

When freshman scoring sensation Samantha Neal got her fourth foul, though, St. Mary’s began cutting into the lead. Neal scored a team-high 19 points in the win, including four 3-pointers, but her absence shifted the momentum to the hosts.

“I didn’t want to go into overtime, because we were sort of on our heels ever since Sam got her fourth foul,” the coach Neal said.

Senior Shannon Buhler aided in the win with 11 points and two 3’s. Amanda Neal scored seven, Emily George tallied six and Cissy Daniels and Allie Esparza each scored five.

Summit’s biggest challenge Friday night came under the glass, where the Wildcats boasted a huge height advantage, starting a 6-1, 6-foot and 5-11 frontcourt.

“We all had to chip in on the boards,” said Neal. “The girls did a great job.”

Summit’s next game is Jan. 6 at Battle Mountain.

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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