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Bears Clinch Region Titles

Mar 10, 2016 10:04AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

South Valley - In the three years that Summit Academy High School in Bluffdale has been open, its boys and girls basketball teams have set their roots and become contenders in the state’s 2A classification.

The Bears boys head coach Evric Gray and girls head coach Gianni Ellefsen have seen their programs blossom. Both teams stand atop their Region 16 standings. 

“It has been an up-and-down season. Even though we are winning we have not put together four complete quarters. I am happy with our guys, though. We have had some good players step up,” Gray said.

The boys team is 18-3 overall and 9-0 in region play this season. For the first time in school history, the Bears swept North and South Summit. 

Senior guard Darrin Gethers leads the team in scoring. He is averaging 19.5 points per game. He also leads the team in assists with 5.7 per game. He is currently third all-time in scoring at the school, behind Tyler Farris and Zach Scott (both class of 2015).

“We go as Darrin goes. If he struggles, then we struggle. He can penetrate and get to the glass. I don’t like him to settle for jump shots. He has also become very good at getting into the passing lanes on defense,” Gray said.

Sam Velez leads the state in rebounding, averaging 14.4 per game, which is nearly three rebounds more than his nearest competitor. He has grabbed 20 or more boards twice this season. 

“Sam is a solid rebounder. He grabs the ball even against tough 5A schools. Tyranny (Pace) is our best defender and Gavin (Rindlishbacher) has been solid for us all year,” Gray said.

The Bears boys have clinched their second region title in the school’s history. 

The state tournaments for the boys and girls teams are scheduled to begin Feb. 20 (after press deadline) and continue Feb. 25-27 at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.

The girls team finds itself in a similar situation as the boys. They are also 9-0 in region games this season and have clinched a Region 16 title, the first region title for the girls in school history.

“There is a rivalry between the girls and boys. Our games are first in the week, so we win and then force the boys to win to keep up,” Ellefsen said.

Senior Baylee Leiter leads the team in scoring. She is averaging 16.8 points per game. She is in her first year at SAHS. She transferred from Copper Hills. She has begun receiving offers to continue playing basketball after high school. 

“It feels good to finally be noticed for all of the work I have put in. Our team has the greatest chemistry. We hang out on the court and off and it has helped us all be friends. Coming here (to Summit) I had to take on more responsibility scoring wise and become a better rebounder,” Leiter said.

Ellefsen is in his first year as head coach for the Bears. He said despite the turmoil the team faced in the off season, the team has bonded well. 

“I have never been more proud of a team. We had a few struggles in the off-season and beginning of the year to overcome. There are girls on this team with integrity,” Ellefsen said. 

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