Battle Mountain girls fall prey to Tigers’ near-perfect first half |

Battle Mountain girls fall prey to Tigers’ near-perfect first half

Devon O'Neil
Special to the Daily/Brad OdekirkBattle Mountain senior Lauren Prewitt, left, looks to block the shot of Summit Tigers sophomore Samantha Neal Tuesday night during second-quarter action at Farmer's Korner.

FARMER’S KORNER – Imagine that. A coach, striving for perfection, looking for anything to dissect, anything to improve … and coming up empty.Such was the case for Summit High School girls basketball coach Jeff Neal at halftime of Tuesday night’s game against visiting Battle Mountain. Neal’s team put up 47 points in the first two quarters – a whopping 27 of them coming from his daughter, sophomore shooting guard Samantha – thus leaving the coach speechless at the break.”I had no complaints at halftime,” Neal said. “That’s as well as I think we’ve played for a half since I’ve been coaching here.” A rare case, indeed. So was Summit’s first-half performance. Battle Mountain won the opening tip, then turned the ball over on a backcourt violation. It was all Tigers from there.Hot, hot, hot

Samantha Neal, who struggled mightily early this season but has been one of the hottest players in the state since finding her shooting stroke two weeks ago, poured in 17 first-quarter points. She hit five 3-pointers in the first six minutes, and seven in the first half. She finished with 29 in the game.”It’s just feeling like it flows now,” the sophomore said of her shot. “Before, it was like …” She cringed. “I don’t even know how to explain it.”With senior point guard Cissy Daniels chipping in 13 points and five assists in the first half, and Summit forcing the Huskies into 18 turnovers, perfection was a good starting point to measure the Tigers’ performance.”That was pretty amazing,” Samantha Neal said. “(At halftime) we knew that we probably couldn’t match that. It was fun.”Summit led 26-9 after eight minutes, 47-20 after 16 and 61-27 after 24. The Tigers eventually won 75-37, upping their record to 9-4 with their fourth consecutive victory. Battle Mountain dropped to 2-10 with its ninth straight loss.”We got beat from the outside again,” Huskies coach Ernesto Arredondo said, noting he was missing one of his best players on the wing, Kaeli Hosler. “Three-pointers are killing us.”

Cold, cold, coldThe Tigers hit eight treys in the first half and nine in the game. The Huskies, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going on the perimeter and rode the inside play of senior Lauren Prewitt. Prewitt finished with 22 points and five blocks while controlling the low post.”None of our shots were going in from the outside,” Arredondo said. “Any shot we were throwing up, it just wasn’t going in.”The coach recognizes a lack of balance is hurting his team’s chances.”Even if she scores 30,” Arredondo said in reference to Prewitt, “we’re still going to get beat sometimes. We need that one or two players from the outside to contribute.”

Daniels finished with 23 points in the game for Summit, giving the Tigers’ backcourt 52 of the team’s 75 points. Allie Esparza led the frontcourt with 10. Her senior classmate Amanda Neal, who is still getting back into the groove of game speed after missing the first part of the season with a shoulder injury, chipped in six.Junior Max Van Dyke finished with six for Battle Mountain.The Tigers will take their four-game win streak on the road Friday, when they travel to Englewood for a rematch of last week’s contest, which Summit won by 20. Battle Mountain is also in action Friday, when it hosts Palisade.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at, Colorado

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