Rival schools prepare for potential playoff showdown
North and South Summit on collision course to play again
A 30-mile stretch on Interstate 80 is all that separates North and South Summit High Schools. The schools that both reside in Summit County are natural rivals. They both compete in Region 16 and play each other twice a year.
To say the least, it’s a hard-fought battle in a packed gym when the two Summits hit the same court — no matter their respective records. The two boys’ basketball teams are in the middle of competing in the UHSAA 2A State Tournament and given their history with one another, fans are hoping for a potential matchup between the rivals in the semifinals.
“I don’t try to look forward to playing anybody,” South Summit Head Coach Dusty Hatch said. “I don’t try to look ahead. I obviously know what the situation is.”
Both teams took care of business in the first round of play-in games in the UHSAA 2A State Tournament to advance to the quarterfinals. South Summit was the lone team in the bracket that wasn’t either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to advance by beating Enterprise 58-48. North Summit, a two-seed, raced past Delta 70-44.
Even though they won’t go against each other in the quarterfinal round — South Summit will play Waterford and North Summit will take on Emery — the players, fans and sometimes the coaches are slightly looking ahead. Should both teams win Thursday evening, a third, and final, matchup will take place.
The coaches and players, however, are more focused on the next game in the lineup.
“I think kids look at it and see whose where,” North Summit Head Coach Aaron Preece said. “That’s kind of the task at hand, to keep them focused on who we’re playing now and worry about the next step after. I think in the back of their minds they are [thinking about it], but I hope they’re not. Everyone’s looking at that South Summit-Waterford game and who might win that game, but we’ve just got to get back to what we’re doing.”
North Summit has won the first two meetings between the schools by a combined score 88-77. Both were close contests and spectators can expect the same if the two meet in the semifinals.
For now, Hatch is focused on a talented Waterford team, like Preece is with Emery, who scored 93 points in its play-in game. The opposing schools have secured No. 1 seeds in their respective regions of the bracket, so South and North Summit certainly have their work cut out for them.
“We just have to focus on the things that we do well,” Preece said of facing Emery. “Just focus on those little things that we can do to stop their scorers.”
Though enticing, Hatch hopes not to see the Braves in the semifinals should the opportunity arise, even though he fully believes his team hasn’t played its best basketball yet this season.
“I would rather play Emery than I would North Summit, because we just don’t match up well with North Summit,” Hatch said. “If us and North Summit meet in the semifinals, that would be great because that gives us the chance to redeem ourselves and maybe get a little revenge.”
In the end, the tournament will play itself out. Time will be the ultimate indicator for if these two schools will face off again, but for now, the name of the game is simple — advance.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Hatch said. “Lose and go home or you win and move on.”
South Summit will face off against Waterford on Thursday at 12:50 p.m. at the Sevier Valley Center. North Summit and Emery will follow with a pre-scheduled tip time of 2:30 p.m.
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