North Summit girls’ basketball clinches Region 16 title
On Jan. 27, the North Summit High School girls’ basketball team traveled to Kamas and earned a narrow 48-44 victory over rival South Summit, putting the Braves in the driver’s seat for the Region 16 title.
On Thursday night, the two teams met again, this time in Coalville, with North Summit still undefeated in region play and the Wildcats with only the one blemish inflicted by the Braves on their region record.
The first half made it seem like another tight, physical ballgame was in store, with North Summit nursing a 27-22 lead at intermission. But, after the break, the Braves proved to be too much for the Wildcats, exploding for 37 points to earn a big 64-41 victory and clinch the Region 16 title.
North Summit Coach Ross Pace said the region title was just a part of what the Braves hope to accomplish, but that it was special nonetheless.
"A region championship means a lot, and to go undefeated means even more," he said. "It was a great win for us and the girls played hard."
Offensively, everything was clicking for the Braves, who were able to hit some outside shots and get to the rim seemingly at will.
"We want to take everything to the basket," Pace said. "But when they sit back in a zone, you’ve got to hit some outside shots. We hit some and it brought them out [of the zone] and we match up with them pretty well man-to-man. Then we could really take our chances going to the basket."
Defensively, the Braves were able to be aggressive, thanks to the efforts of freshman Hunter Vernon on the back end. Vernon had several blocks at the rim when South Summit players drove the lane.
"It really helps having her back there," Pace said. "You can cheat a little more up front with her sitting in the back. She’s an asset."
Seniors Kasidee Evans and Haylee McQueen led the way for the Braves offensively. Evans had 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals, while McQueen added 14 points, four assists and four steals. Vernon contributed eight points and snagged 13 boards. Elise Richins (seven points), Madi Birk (five), Brena Richins (four) and Jenessa Stephens (two) also contributed to North Summit’s offense.
Sierra Davis led the way for South Summit, scoring eight points in a balanced offensive effort. Hannah Peterson and Natalie Nichols each added seven points, McKaye Woolstenhulme and Josie Grajek had six, Rachel Rydalch had four and Taylor Reidhead added three.
With both the outside shot and inside play clicking on Thursday night, McQueen, the North Summit point guard, said running the offense was easy.
"It’s awesome because, if they shut down one person, someone else can hit a shot," she said. "You can rely on anyone to do whatever you need."
Thursday night was the last time Evans and McQueen, North Summit’s only two seniors, would take the court at home for a regular-season game. Pace said he’ll be sad to see them leave, but hopes to send them out with a state championship.
"I thought they were going to make me tear up when they were out there getting ready," he said. "Kasidee started all four years and Haylee’s been right there pretty close, too. They’ll be tough to replace. That’s a lot of points we get from them."
Last year, the Braves entered the playoffs with a 17-2 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Enterprise, the eventual state champions. Pace said the team is looking to avoid the kind of first-round letdown they experienced in the 28-27 loss last year.
"We’ve got to play hard all the time," he said. "We can’t look forward past anybody. It’s one team at a time."
"This year, we’ve changed everything," McQueen added. "We have the mindset that we can be state champions and we’re going to play like it every game."
North Summit finished the regular season with an overall record of 17-3 (10-0 in Region 16) and will enter the 2A playoffs as the No. 1 seed from Region 16. South Summit finished the regular season with an overall record of 13-5 (8-2 in region) and will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 16.
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