By CHIP CIRILLO
Summit’s girls will take a losing record into February, but they are only 2-1/2 games out of first place in District 11-AAA.
Is their 10-11 record misleading? Absolutely.
“We had probably one of the most grueling pre-(district) schedules out there,” Lady Spartans coach Kari Goodwin said. “I mean, we saw Stewarts Creek, Riverdale, Wilson Central, Jackson South Side, Stone Memorial, Lawrence County. Seeing those teams and that competition completely changes how we perceive everybody else, because now we know what the best looks like and what we have to do just to compete.”
Riverdale (21-0) is No. 1 nationally in the USA Today Super 25 rankings and South Side (18-0) is No. 1 in the Class AA rankings. No. 7 Wilson Central (23-2) and No. 9 Stewarts Creek (18-4) are both in the top 10 of AAA.
Lawrence County is 22-3 and Stone Memorial is 15-8.
Summit won for the fifth time in seven games with a 42-39 victory over visiting Franklin on Tuesday night.
Zacharyia Esmon, who committed to Walters State on Saturday, led Summit with 21 points.
The senior guard scored seven straight points, including the go-ahead layup with 1:46 left, during a crucial fourth-quarter stretch.
“Got to score, got to run it up so they wouldn’t be able to come back,” Esmon said of her fourth-quarter mindset. “We played tough teams at the beginning like Riverdale and Stewarts Creek so that kind of made our record look bad, but it made us better as a team.”
Olivia Colson added 10 points for the Lady Spartans, who swept two games from the Lady Rebels (15-7, 6-3).
Holly Harris’ basket gave Franklin a 35-34 lead with 2:22 left. That’s when Esmon took over with a three-point play, a 3-pointer and a foul shot.
It was just Z being Z.
“Big-time players make big-time plays and that’s what she did tonight,” Goodwin said. “I think committing to Walters State helped her alleviate some stress that’s she’s been having, and she just went out tonight and just played ball.”
Franklin was coming off Friday’s big win over district leader Dickson County, which was missing a couple players.
“(Summit) just made big plays when they needed to,” Lady Rebels coach Darrell Barnwell said. “There were some critical moments there when we had a couple of turnovers when we either had a chance to take the lead or maybe extend. We’ve got to learn how to finish a game.”
Point guard Jilian King led Franklin with 11 points and Harris added 10.
“If you look at Summit’s out-of-district play, they are playing good teams,” King said. “Those are hard-to-beat teams.”
Franklin is third in the district, a half-game behind second-place Centennial (12-6, 6-2). Summit (5-3) is fourth, a half-game behind Franklin.
Summit has four district games left and Franklin has three.
Summit visits Centennial on Wednesday.
Franklin hosts Ravenwood on Friday.