Wildcat boys’ basketball falls in season opener
Tuesday night was as much about the players the South Summit High School boys’ basketball team was missing as it was about those who actually took the court.
With injured senior Ty Jones and suspended junior Mason Gines out for the game and sophomore replacements Nic Beasley and Kaden Atkinson battling nagging injuries during limited minutes, the Wildcats were clearly understaffed at home against 3A opponent Uintah.
Add in the fact that junior center Matt Brady had to deal with foul trouble all night and couldn’t stay on the court for very long and it’s not hard to figure out why the Wildcats came up short in an exciting 66-55 loss.
The Wildcats actually took a 28-23 lead into halftime, but, by the end of the third quarter, found themselves trailing 45-35.
"In the third quarter, I don’t know, we came out without any energy," South Summit coach Dusty Hatch said. "22-7 was the run they made in the third quarter. That killed us. That was the game."
Still, the Wildcats didn’t give up, cutting Uintah’s lead to just two points, 54-52, late in the fourth quarter.
"I was happy with the way we came back," Hatch said. "We gave ourselves a chance to pull ahead with a minute and a half left, but then we threw a bad pass for a turnover."
After a Uintah basket that also sent the shooter to the free-throw line, senior captains Jason Griffin and Bracken Santos each drew technical fouls for talking back to the referees, effectively sealing the win for the Utes.
"I was disappointed in the way it ended," Hatch said. "We learned from that, though. It’s the first game of the year and they learned that can’t happen again."
Aside from losing their cool at the end of the game, which Hatch attributes to the fact that both players played the entire game due to the injuries, he was proud of the way Santos and Griffin played.
"I thought they both played really hard," he said. "They played the whole game. I thought that lent itself to what happened at the end of the game — mental fatigue and frustration."
Griffin scored 25 points to lead the Wildcats, while Santos added 10 points in the loss. Sophomores Beasley and Atkinson contributed off the bench, with Beasley scoring 10 points and Atkinson chipping in with seven. Tanner Anderson scored the other three points for South Summit.
Hatch was impressed with the way Beasley and Atkinson stepped up before leaving the game with cramping issues.
"The great thing is now I have confidence in those guys," he said. "I know I can put them in situations where I need to have them contribute. I thought they played great. They’re sophomores playing in a varsity game for the first time."
As far as Brady’s foul trouble goes, Hatch isn’t too concerned moving forward.
"He’s going to foul out sometimes," he said. "He’s so physical. He’s strong, so it doesn’t take much — he can just bump a kid and it looks like he ran him over because of his strength.
"He’ll figure it out, though. We knew he was going to be physical, but I feel like it’s easier to rein that in than to try to get someone to play more physical. When we get him playing 25 minutes a game, that’ll really help us."
Moving forward, Hatch said he doesn’t think the team needs to make any major changes. Instead, the Wildcats need to focus on making the things they’re currently doing run a little smoother.
"I think we need to be sharper on our movements," he said. "We’re still struggling with the subtleties of our offense. They understand where they’re supposed to be, now they just have to read the defense.
"I was pleased defensively. A lot of their shots didn’t come off of defensive breakdowns. A lot of their shots came off of their rebounding, especially in the third quarter. There were several possessions where they got four shots."
The Wildcats didn’t have much time to dwell on Tuesday’s loss. They returned to the court on Thursday at the Pepsi Classic, hosted by Ben Lomond High School. With four games over the course of three days, Hatch said he’s glad the team has the opportunity to move on quickly.
"We just have to let it go," he said. "We don’t have time to worry about it. That’s the great thing about basketball. In football, you have to wait a whole week. In basketball, we have one day and we’re right back at it."
South Summit (0-1) will play Park City at Park City High School on Friday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. as part of the Park City Classic. The Wildcats’ next home game is Friday, Jan. 2, against Duchesne. That game will start at 7 p.m.
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.