After losing on a last-second shot to 3A Uintah, the South Summit High School boys' basketball team had been on a roll, sweeping through the Pepsi Classic with three straight wins and earning a tough road win against 3A Union.
But, this weekend at the Bear River Winter Classic, the 2A Wildcats finally met their match, suffering three losses to some of the best teams Utah and Idaho have to offer.
Thursday night, South Summit fell to Highland, Idaho, last year's state 4A champion, 76-61. The Wildcats followed that up with a 62-46 loss to host Bear River on Friday and a loss to last year's Utah 4A state champion, Sky View, on Saturday, by a score of 79-49.
South Summit coach Dusty Hatch pinpointed the defensive side of the ball as the area where his team was most lacking.
"Offensively, we did OK," he said. "I was more concerned with how we played defensively. Every team jumped out on us early. We struggled trying to find matchups."
He added that Sky View gave them the most problems defensively.
"Sky View killed us," he said. "They are just huge, big kids that can play. They got a lot of points off rebounds."
Though Hatch was disappointed with the losses, he understands that it will be good for the Wildcats in the long run.
"I'd never say a loss is good, but it showed us what we need to work on," he said. "I kept telling my guys, 'These are high-caliber players. These are the kinds of things we need to be doing.' In the end, that's what hurt us the little things we weren't doing.
One bright spot for South Summit was the offensive play of Beau Rydalch. Rydalch scored 27 points against Highland, 22 against Bear River and 16 against Sky View.
But, Hatch noted, the South Summit supporting cast needs to step up in future games.
"The first night, Beau had 27 points. But the next two nights, after coaches saw him play, they started focusing on shutting him down. I felt like I needed two more players to step up for us. Right now, part of my job as a coach is to find ways to get guys to do that."
First, though, the Wildcats will take their Christmas break before getting ready to play Park City in what will be South Summit's first home game of the year. Hatch said he's glad the Wildcats don't have to travel to Park City.
"Their student section is one of the best in the state," he said. "Playing at home will obviously be an advantage for us."
Though he acknowledges the need for a break, Hatch said he hopes his players don't come back to practice out of shape.
"It takes two weeks to get into condition and two days to get out. Hopefully they don't just sit around eating turkey all week," he joked.
The Wildcats and Miners will square off on Dec. 28 in Kamas. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.