Bracken Santos floats the ball towards the hoop during a game earlier this season. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record
Bracken Santos floats the ball towards the hoop during a game earlier this season. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record

The South Summit High School boys' basketball team has had its eye on Gunnison all season long.

The Wildcats handed the Bulldogs a loss down in Gunnison earlier this season, but head coach Dusty Hatch wasn't going to rest easy until the Region 16 foes had another region loss on their record.

The Wildcats got some help from their neighbors at North Summit with that. The Braves handed the Bulldogs a 62-47 loss on Feb. 5 behind a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double from Ryan McMichael and 14 points from Cameron Smith.

Then the Wildcats kept Gunnison's bad week going on Friday night in Kamas, routing the Bulldogs 75-45 to claim the Region 16 title.

Hatch said the Wildcats just seem to have the Bulldogs' number this year.

"The matchup is really good for us," he said. "They don't have a lot of size. They shoot the ball extremely well from three-point range, but our guards are quick and defend the perimeter well."

Combined with a 67-47 win at Summit Academy on Wednesday, Hatch said the Wildcats are playing at a very high level.

"I thought both the games we played this week, I wouldn't say they were our best games, but they were close to our best games all year," Hatch said.

He credited an emphasis on teamwork and defense as the keys to a successful week.

"We really focused in practice on making the extra pass, passing up good shots to get great shots," he said. "And we pride ourselves on defense. I thought we'd really slipped, so we spent about an hour and a half in film at the start of last week.


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It made a huge difference."

Senior Beau Rydalch led the Wildcats with 24 points, hitting three three-pointers. Three other Wildcats notched double-digit point totals Brad Richins (12 points), Steven Flinders (10 points) and Victor Thornton (10 points).

"It really comes back to being unselfish," Hatch said. "They're a great bunch of guys and they're all so happy that there are more people scoring in double figures every game."

But one stat in particular stands out to Hatch after Friday night's victory.

"We assisted on 62 percent of our field goals," he said. "I wish every game was like that."

Now, everything is clicking for the Wildcats (15-4 overall, 8-0 in region) on both ends of the court. But, Hatch cautioned, he wants to make sure his squad doesn't take its foot off the gas pedal.

"We've won the region," he said. "We can lose these last two games and still win the region. I fear a little bit that there will be some complacency and we won't have the focus we need. I think we have to go into the state tournament winning games."

With a showdown against North Summit (12-8 overall, 4-4 in region), a team the Wildcats beat 70-52 on Jan. 29, on Wednesday night, Hatch said he hopes motivation won't be lacking.

"Hopefully I don't have to do too much to get them ready for that game mentally," he said. "[The Braves] are playing well. They get to the free-throw line a ton and put a ton of pressure on your defense."

Wednesday night's matchup in Coalville is set to tip off at 7 p.m.