• Summit forward Lily Kate Bryson goes up for two of her game high 18 points against Highlands as teammates Ezra Branham (33) and Beatrice Bryson (23) get in position for the rebound. (Photo by Dan Brown.)
    Summit forward Lily Kate Bryson goes up for two of her game high 18 points against Highlands as teammates Ezra Branham (33) and Beatrice Bryson (23) get in position for the rebound. (Photo by Dan Brown.)

Summit hoop girls undefeated

Lady Bears blow out arch-foe Highlands to claim plateau bragging rights

By Dan Brown / Staff

CASHIERS -- The Summit Charter School girls basketball team has gotten off to a hot start as the 2018-2019 middle school shifts gears heading into the 2019 portion of the Lady Bears’ schedule.

Unbeaten coming into the second half of the season at 5-0, following a 42-6 blowout over arch-foe Highlands last week, Coach Kaylee O’Dwyer said she has a strong nucleus of athletes that excel in other sports.

“It’s important to have good athletes that are also good basketball players in a school this size,” O’Dwyer said. “That these girls excel in other sports besides basketball says a lot about their overall abilities.”

O’Dwyer and fellow Coach Jeremy Robinson swap seats on the bench, with Robinson helping out with the girls team and O’Dwyer returning the favor assisting with the boys team.

“We are both in this together,” she said.

O’Dwyer said the biggest problem her team will face leading up to the Tri-State Conference middle school tournament in February, which Summit Charter plans to host, is maintaining that competitive edge against the competition.

“All our games have been pretty one-sided,” she said. “These girls are very competitive. They play year-round. We practice hard.”

The Bear girls could run with many varsity girls basketball programs around the area, said the elementary school physical education teacher.

O’Dwyer is a unique basketball story to the area. She went to middle school and played basketball at Summit. She played basketball and graduated from Blue Ridge Early College, averaging 17.7 points per game as a senior. Collegiately, O’Dwyer played for Pheiffer University in Misenheimer after graduating from BREC in 2015. O’Dwyer has since come full circle returning to Summit Charter to teach and coach. She has a sense of propriety here, wanting her basketball players to continue their scholastic careers, both in the classroom and on the hardwood, as part of the growing Summit Charter High School, but understands these players may decide to go elsewhere.

“It’s kind of sad that these players will go somewhere else to play high school basketball,” O’Dwyer said. “We want them to stay here.”

Next year, Summit will field a high school team of freshmen and sophomores, but they will play a staggered schedule of smaller varsity teams and the JV teams from larger schools. In building a varsity program at Summit Charter will involve working with the younger students – the fourth and fifth graders – now enrolled at Summit.

“We working to build on the work we’ve done with our younger students through Park and Rec programs,” O’Dwyer said. “It’s going to take time.”

Robinson, who will become the school’s new athletic director in the 2019-2020 school year, said now is an exciting time for Summit Charter athletes. A graduate of UNC Wilmington, Robinson teaches Spanish.

“We are learning the game still, but we are about to field a high school team as well as play our games in a first-class facility like the Summit Center,” he said. “We hope our new gym will be ready for the conference tournament in February. We’re planning on it.”

As for his boys team, presently with a record of 1-8 on the 2018-19 they all understand the learning curve with basketball can be vicious.

“We are teaching these kids to play the game and they know it’s a long, uphill climb, but they’ll get there,” Robinson said. “Each day will get a little better from here.”

Against Highlands in the nightcap of last week’s doubleheader, the Bears took a thumping, 36-7. Guard Joshua Hamby’s 5 points provided the spark for Summit’s young offense.

The Summit Lady Bears include Lily Kate Bryson, Beatrice Bryson, Esra Branham, Riley Conner, Caroline Woods, Addie Westendorf, Chloe Stiwinter, Anna Johnson, Abby Doerter, Chloe Crawford, Riley Logan, Christina McDonald and Taylor Robinson.

The Summit Bears include Mason Stoltzfus, Sam Stiwinter, Edward Marquina, Anthony Qemali, Oliver Dyer, Wesley Cox, Brayden Hahn, Toby Henderson, Joshua Handy and Gunner Nelson.




3:30 p.m. / 4:30 p.m. Jan. 17 -- Summit hosts Tallulah Falls.

Jan. 21 -- Summit visits Rabun Gap.

Jan. 23 -- Summit visits Brevard Academy.

Jan. 24 -- Summit visits Smoky Mountain Elementary (Girls 3:30 p.m., Boys 4:30 p.m.).

Jan. 28 -- First Round Semi-Finals (Location TBA).

Jan. 30 -- Second Round Semi-Finals (Location TBA).

11 a.m. / noon Feb. 2 -- Summit hosts Tri-State Championship.

* All girls games begin at 4:30 p.m. and boys games at 5:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

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