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Valencia girls basketball's Kalia Summerlin: The calm

Valencia Senior Kalia Summerlin's humble poise

Posted: January 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Valencia senior Kalia Summerlin is fourth in the Foothill League at 15.0 points per game. She is also dishing out 4.2 assists per game and stealing at a rate of 2.2 per contest.

 

Every Valencia girls basketball game since the winter of 2009, there has been an antithesis in the gymnasium.

On the sideline, the Vikings head coach is pure fire.

Animated at times.

Passionate all the time.

Wears his heart on his sleeve.

A great example of Jerry Mike wearing his heart on his sleeve, and a moment he regrets to this day, is during a basketball game about five years ago.

Mike was frustrated, for one reason or another, and put his shirt over his face.

That picture was snapped and shown in this very newspaper the next day.

“I’m driven to win and I’m meticulous I think, and I respect the game a lot,” is how Valencia head coach Jerry Mike describes himself. “I can be intense somewhat.”

On the floor is pure calm.

Eyes of innocence.

Soft spoken.

You never know what she’s thinking.

“I’m kind of quiet, but once you get to know me I’m a little loud,” is how Valencia senior guard Kalia Summerlin describes herself.

It’s a unique mix, but one that works for Valencia basketball.

And it’s one reason why Valencia basketball is the frontrunner for the Foothill League title.

Mike understands that he can be hard to play for.

He’s demanding and extremely competitive.

And sometimes for his message to be truly effective, he has needed a girl like Summerlin to convey it to others in someway.

The quiet Summerlin does it with her play.

She’s one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s premier guards — part distributor, more part-scorer with a basketball IQ and ball-handling ability that is beyond those of most of her peers.

The last two years, prior to the season’s start, Mike has been ultra-complimentary of Summerlin.

After all, she was a Signal All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League first-teamer in 2012, having averaged 14.0 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game and an honorable mention as a sophomore.

She is also a four-year varsity player.

“She’s always there. She’s reliable. She’s always putting us first,” Mike says. “Not everyone’s like that. If there’s a harder worker in my 13 years, the hardest-working, most-reliable girls have been Kelley Tarver, Lauren Spargo and her.”

That’s special company in Vikings’ lore.

Tarver is arguably the greatest player in Valencia history — the Foothill League Player of the Year in 2005 and a two-time All-CIF selection.

She went on to play at Cal State Bakersfield.

Spargo was a notorious hard-worker at Valencia and a four-year star for the Vikings who is currently playing for Long Beach State.

Those two were Mike’s kind of players.

Summerlin came in as a freshman and played with Spargo, but was admittedly timid about her new coach.

“I was definitely scared of him. It was really intimidating coming in,” Summerlin says. “It was probably my sophomore year by the time I was OK.”

One advantage Summerlin had coming into the Valencia program was that she has basketball in her genes.

Her mother, Marli Sacolles, played basketball at Ventura College and Cal State San Bernardino.

Sacolles still plays basketball to this day and has played in the backcourt with her daughter in a league at the local Spectrum Club.

“If I make a bad pass, she’s like, ‘Mom?’” Sacolles says.

Sacolles agrees that her daughter was better prepared for a demanding program than most because of her basketball background, but her ability to get on the same page with a fiery coach is a credit to something else.

“I think it’s part of her personality. She’s always had an even temper,” Sacolles says. “She was never an emotional child to begin with. Not overly passionate. That helped with her composure on the court.”

Says Summerlin of her coach: “I think we balance really well. He’s always energetic and into the game. I try to balance that out and calm the team down and focus on what we’re trying to do.”

Summerlin’s career has been stellar at Valencia.

Three years, three playoff appearances, individual honors and she is receiving interest from four-year schools.

But she says the career is not quite complete without that elusive Foothill League title — a championship Valencia hasn’t won since 2005.

Valencia is in first place in the Foothill League today because of a Jan. 15 40-38 win against three-time defending Foothill League champion Canyon.

The Vikings hadn’t beaten Canyon since Jan. 22, 2010.

After the final buzzer, Mike smiled wide and pumped his fist.

“I had Jan. 15 marked on my calendar for a long time,” he says. “It’s that mountain to get over, the game to win, it’s their title, they’ve done it. It’s hard. My teams have been close for so long. I wanted it bad, and it came out a little (after that game).”

Meanwhile, Summerlin smiled and high-fived her teammates.

Happiness was evident, but not in abundance.

“I was really excited, but we didn’t let it show till the locker room. Then it got crazy,” she says.

Same goal, different emotions.

An antithesis that works.

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