Brave boys hitting their stride
January 2, 2015
After a slow start to the 2014-15 season, the North Summit High School boys’ basketball team has been hitting its stride of late.
A recent tournament in Wyoming saw the Braves pick up wins in all three games they played. On Dec. 18, they crushed Kemmerer, Wyoming, 58-14. On Dec. 19 they dominated host school Green River 60-36 and on Dec. 20, they staged a late comeback to pick up a 57-54 victory over Lyman, Idaho.
Scoring 60, 58 and 57 points in the three games is a good sign for the Braves, Coach Marques Johnson said.
"I think, with this team this year, if we can get in the mid-to-high 50s, we’ll be fine," he said. "Defensively, we’re trying to slow things down and slow other teams down, so if we can score in the mid-50s offensively, we’ll be right there with a chance to win."
At the Flaming Gorge Classic, senior guards Carson Richins and Cameron Smith continued their hot play, leading the team in scoring for the tournament. Richins finished with 55 total points and Smith added 53 of his own.
"Cameron and Carson again have been the two leading scorers for us," Johnson said. "That’s nice to have."
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But, he added, the hero of the Lyman game was senior forward Ryan McMichael.
"We were down three with a minute left and Ryan hit a three with 40 seconds left to tie the game," he said. "Then he took a charge on the defensive end. We don’t win without those two plays. He stepped up at a crucial time."
As the calendar flips over to 2015, Johnson said he thinks McMichael will begin to play a bigger role for the Braves.
"He’s going to score more for us, so that was good to see," he said. "He’s a senior leader that maybe hasn’t been putting up huge scoring numbers, but has been helping us in other areas."
Despite struggling at the Pepsi Classic to start the year, Johnson thinks this year’s North Summit squad has what it takes to make some noise when region play starts on Jan. 14.
"We’re hoping to continue winning," he said. "We’ve won five of six after starting 1-3. It seems like we’ve got things going in the direction we want."
The biggest challenge facing the Braves is a lack of scoring threats. Behind Smith and Richins, many of North Summit’s players have struggled to score consistently.
"That’s something we’re fighting with, no doubt about it," Johnson said. "Ryan’s been scoring when we need him, though. And Mason [Richins] had 12 rebounds against Green River. That’s not scoring, but that’s still what we need. We need people to step up and help us. Calvin Hunsaker, he didn’t put up big numbers in Green River, but he’s got ability and that’s another direction we’re looking."
Overall, Johnson said, the Braves need to have some underclassmen step up and help carry the load.
"We’re just going to continue looking for juniors and a couple sophomores to help us along and get in the right spot when we need them," he said. "That’ll be coming up in region play."
Region play starts on Wednesday, Jan. 14, when North Summit (6-4) hosts Gunnison (1-5) in Coalville. That game will start at 7 p.m. But first, the Braves have a tournament this weekend in Big Piney, Wyoming. Then, they’ll travel to Grantsville on Jan. 7 for the final preseason game.