Tigers rout rival Huskies, 71-43
FARMER’S KORNER – Any night is a good night to blow out your high school rival, but for the Summit boys’ basketball team, Tuesday night was better than good.The Tigers beat winless Shrine Pass rival Battle Mountain by 28 points, 71-43, which usually would have been plenty to send them home satisfied. But because the walloping came in front of a 4A state tournament seeding official, it was almost like the victory counted extra.”The way we played, the way we defended, the energy we brought to the floor – those are the things the selection committee wants to see,” Summit coach Mike Rathgeber said. “And balance, they want to see balance. We showed them all those things tonight.”The visiting Huskies may have played Summit close when the Tigers visited Eagle-Vail in December, but in that game Summit’s star point guard, Tucker Shelden, went down with a knee injury and the entire game changed.
This time, in front of a vocal home crowd, the Tigers left no doubt that they are every bit as good as their 9-4 record indicates. “Knowing that we had Tucker this time, we thought we’d be able to at least control the game,” said senior shooting guard Sean Linfield, who scored a game-high 18 points after a pregame pep talk from Rathgeber helped him regain his confidence. Linfield further extended his single-season school record for 3-pointers made; still, the outside marksman said, the Tigers didn’t expect to win in such dominant fashion.
Struggles continueSummit ballooned a 14-point halftime advantage to a 53-23 lead at the end of the third quarter. It seemed like nothing could go right for the Huskies, who dropped to an unlucky 0-13.”We played a nine-point ball game with them last time,” Battle Mountain coach Phil Tronsrue said. “But I tell you what, we came out shellshocked this time. We couldn’t hit anything. We were chucking up airballs. We were intimidated, and I don’t know why.”It may have had to do with the balance Summit continues to display when it’s having success. Five players scored at least eight points for the Tigers – Linfield (18), Ryan Eberhart (11), Shelden (nine), Ryan George (eight) and Jordan Sitkoski (eight) – and Summit played ball-hawking defense to keep the visitors on their heels all night.
The Tigers even got five points from little-used senior guard John Thiel, a pair of baskets that brought the crowd to its feet.Battle Mountain is the only team all season that the Tigers play in a home-and-home series, something Rathgeber and Tronsrue scheduled to boost the profile of this rivalry. However, whereas the Huskies crushed Summit last year on their way to a 21-3 record, this year the Tigers have done the defeating.”Anytime you beat Battle Mountain in anything, that’s what it’s all about,” Rathgeber said. “Rivalries are what make high school sports great. They had their day last year and we’re having ours this year.”The Huskies got 10 points apiece from promising junior Ashlin Romero and sharpshooting senior Clay Wilson, as well as seven from Zach Adamson. Still, Tronsrue didn’t have many answers after another frustrating defeat.”I don’t know what to tell you, to be truthful,” he said. “I don’t believe in beating ’em down because an injured dog isn’t gonna respond if you keep whipping him.”
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