South Summit basketball outguns Braves in Kamas
If you didn’t get to South Summit High School well before tipoff of Wednesday night’s boys’ basketball game between the Wildcats and rival North Summit, you weren’t going to find a seat.
The gym was packed to the rafters with roaring Wildcat supporters and brave North Summit fans invading hostile territory.
The intensity didn’t let up until the fourth quarter, with South Summit fans celebrating as their squad took a big 28-14 halftime lead and desperate North Summit fans urging their team to make a comeback.
When all was said and done, South Summit managed to withstand a late North Summit barrage to earn a decisive 55-39 victory.
Overall, South Summit Coach Dusty Hatch was pleased with the Wildcats’ performance. He said they did exactly what they needed to do to beat a tough North Summit team.
"I thought we played great," he said. "Defensively and even offensively, we executed the game plan — I wouldn’t say to perfection, but we did really well. North Summit’s a good team. We played exceptionally well tonight, which you have to do if you want to beat good teams."
South Summit senior Mason Gines led all scorers with 20 points. He said he and his teammates fed off the crowd’s energy all game long.
"It’s great," he said. "I wish it was like this every game. If it was like this every game, we’d win just like tonight. It changes the game, for sure."
Hatch added that having so much crowd noise aids South Summit’s style of play.
"When you have a crowd like this, we get out and run even more because the energy level in the building is just outstanding."
Junior Nick Beasley added 15 points for the Wildcats and junior Kaden Atkinson (nine points), junior Jason McNeil (six), senior Tanner Anderson (four) and junior Brandon Dansie (one) also contributed offensively.
A sizeable chunk of South Summit’s points came on easy layups in transition, which was exactly what Hatch wanted to see.
"The way we run the floor, especially in the first half, I really emphasize that," he said. "North Summit’s really good on the offensive glass and I felt that if we could get out and run and get easy transition baskets while they were crashing the boards then they wouldn’t be so apt to crash the boards. They’d be worried about getting back on defense."
For the Braves, senior Mason Richins led the way, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Junior Calvin Hunsaker added 10 points. Junior Braxten Northrup scored six points while senior Chris Richins and junior Tyler Coleman each chipped in with three points. Seniors Eric Wayment and Curtis Calderwood each only scored two points, but Wayment grabbed 14 rebounds and Calderwood added 12. Senior Braden Richins scored two points and had two boards.
Hatch said the Wildcats did a great job limiting the Richins twins, Braden and Mason.
"We knew that was the key — stopping their bigs," he said. "We wanted to make sure we always had a guy defending on the front side and a guy on the back side. We were willing to give up some outside shooting to make sure that happened. We’re just lucky they weren’t hitting shots."
The responsibility of defending the Richins twins often fell to Gines and Beasley, who were more than up to the task. Gines said he’s familiar with squaring off against the North Summit forwards.
"It’s something else," he said. "Those two are tough. They play football and they’re strong. I’ve been playing against them since fifth grade, so I’ve battled it out with them ever since. It’s fun when you get a defensive rebound on them."
South Summit (10-8 overall, 4-1 in Region 16) traveled to Providence Hall on Friday night, after this issue went to press. The Wildcats have a home showdown against region leader Summit Academy on Wednesday night, but Hatch said his team needs to take care of business on the road first.
"We’re not a good enough team that we can just say we’re going to go beat somebody," he said. "We’ve got to prepare for everybody. If we can get a win against Providence Hall, we’ll be feeling a little more comfortable."
Then, Gines said, the team will throw itself into preparing for a rematch against Summit Academy.
"It’s going to take the same execution we had tonight and people showing up and making it loud," he said. "When we played them down there a couple weeks ago, we lost by three. They’re a good team, but if we come out and execute like we did tonight and we have a crowd, we should beat them."
Up next for North Summit (10-8, 3-2) is a road game against Summit Academy. The Braves fell to the Bears at home earlier this season 63-54.
The Braves and Wildcats will meet again to close out the regular season on Friday, Feb. 12. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Coalville.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.