Fourth-quarter surge sends Braves to rivalry win
Hunsaker comes through in the clutch for North Summit
The parking lot at North Summit High School was full, as fans filed into the gymnasium for the anticipated matchup. The streets were even more flooded with both sides of the street adjacent to the school on 100 South in Coalville lined with cars, as more frantically searched for a spot as tip-off neared.
Not all made it into the gym on time, but it was already a packed house before the JV game finished up between the host Braves and rival South Summit on Wednesday evening. This was the Battle of the Summits and everyone wanted to see it.
“This game brings everyone out,” North Summit Head Coach Aaron Preece said.
Those who showed up certainly weren’t disappointed. In a back-and-forth affair that saw South Summit narrowly leading throughout much of it, it was the Braves, behind a rowdy home crowd, who came through in the clutch. They outscored the visiting Wildcats 15-7 in the fourth quarter to walk away victorious, 48-41.
“Our kids just dug down deep and tried to find something inside to take care of the basketball and make shots,” Preece said. “That’s what we needed to do down the stretch. They hit free throws and a couple of shots fell. It worked out for us.
“It’s [a big win]. Especially against a good team like South Summit. They play hard and are very well-coached.”
Leading the way for the Braves was Calvin Hunsaker, who finished with a game-high 18 points. His stellar play throughout the contest, which included a half-court heave at the halftime buzzer to tie things up at 22-22 and a difficult and-one layup in the closing minutes to increase his team’s lead, was instrumental in the win.
The only other North Summit player to register double-digit points was Hayden Blonquist with 11.
For South Summit, scoring usually isn’t an issue, but it struggled dealing with the stout defense from the Braves. In fact, the 41 points on Wednesday were a season-low for the Wildcats.
This was, in large part, due to the gameplan Preece and the Braves created heading into the matchup. Knowing South Summit has playmakers in Nick Beasley and Kaden Atkinson, Preece and his team had a simple goal: stop them.
“If we could contain [Beasley and Atkinson], we were hoping to make the other guys beat us,” Preece said.
They were pretty successful in that endeavor, too, holding Beasley and Atkinson to a combined 15 points.
Coming into the matchup, both North and South Summit hovered near the .500 mark in terms of overall record, but being a rivalry game, the records typically don’t matter. This was going to be a close matchup regardless, and the fans who flocked from Coalville and Kamas alike certainly got their money’s worth.
“It just makes for a fun atmosphere,” Preece said of the rivalry. “That’s what high school basketball should be all about; just having everyone here and rooting for your team.”
In terms of region play, this was a big win for the Braves. Coming into the contest with a 2-2 Region 16 record, this win puts North Summit in a three-way tie for second place with Providence Hall and, of course, South Summit.
Being the halfway point in the region schedule, the Braves title this game as a big momentum-swinger.
“It’s huge, because it puts us in a spot now where we can get a higher seed and get a spot where we want to be in the playoffs,” Preece said. “I hope that we can just take this feeling and run with it.”
On Thursday night, North Summit was back on the court for its second game in as many nights with Summit Academy coming to down. The Braves won that game 59-52 to improve its region record even more to 4-2. This puts them into sole possession of second place.
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