Braves girls’ basketball team win thriller in Kamas | ParkRecord.com

Braves girls’ basketball team win thriller in Kamas

Tuesday night featured a battle of Region 16 heavyweights when the North Summit High School girls’ basketball team traveled to Kamas to take on county rival South Summit.

Both teams entered the game with identical 4-0 region records, with the Braves holding a slight edge in overall record — 11-3 for North Summit to 9-3 for South Summit.

After trailing the Wildcats 19-18 at halftime, the Braves put together a strong third quarter to pull away. But South Summit wasn’t done, pulling to within two points in the fourth before clutch free-throw shooting by Haylee McQueen, who went 3-for-4 from the line in the final minute, and Jenessa Stephens, who banked in a pair of free throws in the final seconds, sealed a 48-44 North Summit victory.

"That was unbelievably clutch," North Summit Coach Jerry Pace said. "That’s better than you can expect — 5-of-6 down the stretch."

South Summit kept it close via two big-time three-pointers from Rachel Rydalch and some flawless free-throw shooting from Josie Grajek, but it was too little, too late for a comeback attempt.

North Summit senior Kasidee Evans said the Braves resolved to overcome their halftime deficit and dictate the game in the second half.

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"After the first half, we decided we didn’t want to keep it close and wanted to come out strong," she said. "We didn’t want to go back into being down — that was our goal."

Though the gym was packed on Tuesday night, it wasn’t necessarily a hostile crowd for the Braves — the Coalville contingent made a strong showing as well. Still, playing in that sort of environment is something Pace and Evans wish they could do more often.

"It’s fun," Pace said. "It’s a fun rivalry and it’s a great game. It’s a great win for us, no doubt."

"It’s very, very cool," Evans added. "We don’t get the whole entire stadium filled ever, and to be able to win in an environment like this is completely mouth-dropping. It’s an amazing feeling."

Playing in a packed gym leads to a lot of energy on both sides. That led to a very physical game between the two rivals. But, Pace said, that’s to be expected, especially with first place in the region on the line.

"There were a lot of fouls called, but I thought it was called pretty much equal," he said. "There were a lot of people knocked down and a couple people who fouled out, which hurt us as much as it hurt them."

"We’re used to physical games — we’ve had quite a few," Evans added. "It adds another level to the game."

Tuesday’s game, in addition to putting the Braves in first place in the region, also served as revenge for last year, when the Wildcats handed North Summit just its second loss of the season in Kamas via a 61-49 thumping.

"It was amazing to come back and beat them after last year," Evans said. "It’s a good feeling to know we’re in the driver’s seat and we have the lead."

Moving forward, Pace didn’t hesitate when asked what the Braves biggest weakness was. The team needs to shoot the ball better if it wants to make a deep run in the 2A state tournament, he said.

"We’ve got to make outside shots when they pack in down low in that zone," he said. "We’ve got to make some outside shots."

North Summit will host South Summit in a much-anticipated rematch on Thursday, Feb. 12, to end the regular season, possibly with a Region 16 title on the line. Next up for the Wildcats is a game at Gunnison on Tuesday night. The next game for North Summit is a home matchup against American Leadership Academy, also on Tuesday night. That game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. in Coalville.

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