For the second consecutive season, the Summit boys basketball team reached the 5A Region II tournament. And for the second straight year, the Jaguars were rebuffed in the semifinals.
Riding high from a thrilling 80-79 victory over Dallas Kimball in the regional quarterfinal, Summit couldn’t mount a big-enough comeback to overcome Dallas Wilson, falling 50-46 last Friday night at Mesquite’s Curtis Culwell Center.
Trailing by 14 entering the fourth quarter, the Jaguars mounted a fierce counterattack that pulled them as close as three points, but they couldn’t claw their way all the back.
“I think our free-throw shooting really cost us that night,” coach Jason Mutterer said, pointing out that his squad hit only eight of its 20 attempts from the foul line. “We also missed some easy layup chances early in that game. When those things don’t go – when you struggle with free-throw shooting and layups – you start to press as a basketball team, especially on the offensive end. Give credit to how hard our kids played when those things weren’t going.”
For 11 seniors, it was the last time they’ll wear the Summit uniform.
“I thought it showed great character,” said Lovell Cabbil, one of those seniors. “We fought really hard.”
The Jaguars end the season with a mark of 21-7 and reached the regional tournament in consecutive years for the first time in the school’s history. Mutterer feels this core group has been his most successful overall, and not just in terms of wins and losses.
“To me it’s the most successful group that we’ve had on the court in our 13 years,” the coach said. “It’s a very special group. They took care of their work in the classroom, which that’s sometimes as big a challenge for coaches. Just not on the court, but off the court they’re a special group as well.”
Two of those seniors also became the first duo of four-year lettermen at Summit. Cabbil and Terrance Hubby each started their varsity careers as freshmen, and they have carved a special place in Mutterer’s heart.
“It’s an emotional thing for me to think about coaching next year without those two kids on the floor,” Mutterer said. “They made my job a lot easier during practices and on game nights just because of their experience and who they are.”
The pair are part of a larger group of seniors that has been together for the past six years, having come up through the middle school ranks together before playing in high school.
“That’s six years that, for a group of seven of them, have been together,” Mutterer pointed out. “That’s just unheard of today.”
And for guys like Cabbil, that’s been the most memorable part of playing basketball – to watch that group of boys grow up.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “All of us have matured from when we were younger. It’s been a pretty good ride.”
The ride may have ended a few games short of where they wanted, but Mutterer has tried to impress upon them how much they’ve accomplished, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way yet.
“It was a dream they’ve had since they were seventh graders, to finish at that state championship game,” he said. “It’s hard because that’s not what they wanted to hear. They wanted to get to the regional championship game; they wanted to get to the state tournament. You have to step back. Wins and losses are nice, but I think our coaching staff has probably helped them the most off the basketball court, to grow into young men. That’s what we’ve talked about over the last day and a half, is how far some of them have come as young men.”
And while Mutterer won’t soon forget his Class of ’15 Jaguars, it’s his job to start preparing for the next group, which he has done. He and his staff have already started discussing how offenses and defenses will need to change for the upcoming personnel. And those new personnel have already created high hopes for a program that now has a high bar for success.
“[The upcoming freshman class] may be the best group that we’ve ever had come through Summit as a group, talent-wise,” Mutterer said. “But they have some maturing to do. It’s not talent that wins basketball games; it’s maturity and experience and those things.”
With Cabbil, Hubby and nine other seniors moving on, they’re taking a lot of game experience with them, but also plenty of life experiences. Cabbil said the highlight of his career at Summit will probably be the way the team felt and came together to celebrate the win over Kimball.
And though they may not have championship rings, they’ll always have their place in Summit history.