Jacob Derritt is pretty plain about his basketball priorities. Just take in one of his practices at Summit Christian Academy.
“We run three-hour practices,” Derritt said. “An hour is dedicated just for defense. I would challenge you to find another program that spends an hour a day just on defense.”
Defense has always been the name of the game for Derritt, who is starting his first season as SCA’s boys basketball coach.
It’s a different defense than what the Eagles have been used to and, at first, it took a while for them to adjust.
But after dropping their season-opener againsg Mid-Buchanan, Derritt said the Eagles started to pick up on the new look and gain some confidence as they rolled to the championship of last week’s Eagle Invitational.
“I’m a big defensive guy,” said Derritt, who previously was an assistant coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park. “I’ve played under nothing but defensive-minded coaches as well. We just hang our hat on the defensive side. I spend a lot of time on details on the defensive side, even more sometimes than the offensive side. It was a big change coming in.”
Derritt’s defense has been the biggest adjustment during the Eagles’ transition from former coach Jake Kates, who left last season after 13 years at SCA to become the head boys coach at William Chrisman.
Past Summit Christian teams utilized a pack-line defense, which is like a man-to-man only with the non-ball defenders playing closer to the basket. Derritt’s scheme demands that the Eagles be more aggressive.
SCA struggled with Derritt’s concepts during that 79-67 loss to Mid-Buchanan, but it gave the Eagles a chance to look at what they were doing wrong.
“We were a little rough there, but we were able to see some of those things on film, able to talk to the kids and come back and get a little more buy-in,” Derritt said. “It helps to get a couple of wins to get that buy-in.”
SCA opened the Eagle Invitational with a 74-24 thumping of Frontier STEM and followed that with a 63-60 victory against St. Michael the Archangel in the semifinals. After beating University Academy 71-56 in the final, SCA was off to a 3-1 start before losing 69-59 at Shawnee Mission South on Tuesday night.
The win versus St. Michael, in which the Eagles rallied in the fourth quarter after blowing an early lead, convinced Derritt that the Eagles were headed in the right direction.
“Being able to beat those guys the way we wanted to play definitely helped get some confidence in that the things that we’re doing here are working,” Derritt said. “(I’m) happy that we were able to grow last week, but I still think we’ve got a long way to go.”
Offense has not been a problem early for SCA, which is averaging about 68 points a game.
Preston Kliewer, a 6-foot guard and one of two returning starters, averages a team-high 19.9 points per game. Raef Gerdes, a 6-7 senior forward and the other returning starter, averages 13.5 points.
The Eagles are also getting double-digit scoring from freshmen Griffin Kliewer (14 points per game) and Jared Gerdes (11.3).
“When teams come to scout us they can’t just pick one person to try to shut down,” Derritt said. “We’ve got several guys even outside of those four who can step in and add scoring.”
SCA girls champs, too
Summit Christian also won the girls’ bracket of the Eagle Invitational, beating Harrisonville 46-42 in the final.
It’s the first time in the tournament’s 11-year history that SCA has swept the titles.