Grayling basketball player ends career with two all-time records
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
He went from being an all-state basketball player to an injured player, one who was unsure if he’d ever regain his previous form, and then back to an all-state player, one who’s planning to play college basketball next year.
Troy Summers, a 6’8” senior center for Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball team, established two new records this past season: most rebounds in a single season and most rebounds in a career. Both of the previous records had stood for a long time; the career rebounding mark, set in 1969 by Gerry St. Germain, was 681, and the single season rebounding record, established in 1957 by Bob Strong, was 375.
First, Summers surpassed the career rebounding record during a game at Charlevoix on Friday, Feb. 3. Because the game was held in Charlevoix, and because of how the Vikings won the game – forcing overtime with three free throws in the final seconds of regulation and winning it with a two-point buzzer beater in the extra period – the accomplishment did not get its due until Grayling’s next home game; the Vikings conducted a ceremony commemorating the new record prior to a league game against Boyne City on Tuesday, Feb. 7. During the ceremony, St. Germain presented Summers with a framed photo and congratulated him on breaking the record.
“That was awesome,” Summers said of having the previous record holder, St. Germain, pay tribute to him during the ceremony. “He was a great player, one of the Grayling greats.”
“It was just awesome to see how everyone congratulated me – family, friends, and teammates,” Summers said.
Summers finished his career with 855 rebounds.
Summers said he knew before the 2016-2017 season started that he could break the all-time rebounding record, barring injury.
“I had to average seven rebounds per game. I knew I was going to break it sometime; I just didn’t know when,” Summers said.
Seven rebounds per game? Well below the numbers he put up during his all-state junior year when he posted 13.1 rebounds per contest.
He didn’t break the single season rebounding mark until the final game of the season, a Michigan High School Athletic Association Region 16-B semifinal match against the Gladstone Braves at Sault Ste. Marie. The Braves won the contest 74-69, ending Grayling’s season.
Summers had 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks vs. Gladstone, and the 11 rebounds put him over the record by five with 380. Because of the loss, it was a difficult accomplishment to celebrate. Unlike with the career record, Summers did not know he was within reach of the single season mark.
“I never knew it was a possibility. I didn’t even know I was close to it. I’d much rather have a win in a regional semifinal than breaking a record,” Summers said.
During the summer leading into the 2016-2017 campaign, Summers wasn’t sure how much he would be able to contribute. Summers took an elbow to the thumb in late May during an AAU basketball game, breaking a bone. He wore a cast until mid-July.
“The day I got the cast off I was in the gym with Moff, working on right-handed. I couldn’t even do a lay-up with my left hand,” Summers said.
(“Moff” is Rich Moffit, varsity boys basketball coach for Grayling High School.)
Summers is left-handed. Sort of. Early on in his basketball career, around age 5, he said he didn’t know if he was right-handed or left-handed. He learned how to play from both sides. It helped later, being able to finish and rebound from both sides of the basket.
“That’s why I’m so ambidextrous. I’m left-handed playing basketball, right-handed for everything else,” Summers said.
It was tough for a few weeks after getting the cast off. Basketball workouts. Physical therapy for more than a month.
“It was a lot of excruciating pain. You don’t realize how valuable your thumbs are until you don’t have them,” Summers said. “I didn’t know if I was going to come back to my first potential, going from all-state to not even being able to dribble a basketball. I kept a positive attitude and I think that helped me in the long run. By August first I was back to normal.”
Coach Moffit recalls the frustration after the injury and the work to overcome it, and agreed that it was a positive attitude that got Summers through it.
“I still remember his first time back in the gym and we were pushing him and he could barely hang on to the basketball because of the injury. He was clearly frustrated and we cut him no slack. The cool thing is that he took on the challenge with a positive attitude,” Coach Moffit said. “I do not think there are many student-athletes out there that could have overcome what he did.”
Coach Moffit pushed Summers to be better. He was, perhaps, especially demanding of him during his sophomore season, Summers’ first year on varsity. Summers said he would not be the player he is without his coaches helping to develop his game.
“I think (Coach Moffit) saw the potential I had,” Summers said. “Moff mentored me, being almost a father-like figure to me on and off the court.”
“We were pretty tough on him early on because we saw the potential that he had to dominate on the court,” Coach Moffit said. “In time, he trusted our coaches and he developed a work ethic that enabled him to play at a very high level. It has been really neat to watch how Troy has progressed both on and off the court in the past three years.”
“Developing your skills is one thing, but Troy also developed the mental part of his game. It was fun to watch him this year take on the challenges that he received on the court with double teams and also the verbal jawing that opponents did with him. One thing that opponents learned: do not talk to him. When opponents talked smack to Troy he responded by playing at a very high level. I remember one game where an LMC team was talking smack to him during a free throw. One of our players smiled at the opponent and said, ‘Keep talking smack and see how this works out for you.’ Troy dominated that game,” Coach Moffit said.
Summers earned several honors during the 2016-2017 campaign, a year during which he averaged approximately 21 points per game and 16 rebounds per game.
Summers was named to the Associated Press all-state second team and the Detroit Free Press all-state second team. He was the Weekly Choice Player of the Year. Summers was the Bankhoops Class B Defensive Player of the Year, and he was named team MVP.
The Vikings had a good season this year, winning a district championship and finishing in a tie for second place in the Lake Michigan Conference. Grayling was 18-6 overall this year, including the playoffs.
“It was definitely my favorite season I’ve ever been a part of. The bond we had as a team was unbelievable. How the community had our back was amazing,” Summers said. “It was awesome to win a championship with that team. It was a championship atmosphere day in and day out.”
Summers said he remembered his team being referred to as a “dark horse” by a media outlet with regard to Grayling’s chances of winning the district; Sault Ste. Marie, the squad’s opponent in the district semifinals, was favored to win it, he said.
Summers said his favorite memories from his Grayling High School basketball career were: winning this year’s district title game at Kingsley, defeating Sault Ste. Marie at the Soo during this year’s district semifinals, the buzzer beater victory at Charlevoix this year, and “going to summer camps with the team.”
What’s next for Summers? College basketball at Northern Michigan University. Prior to the start of Grayling’s 2016-2017 season, he signed a letter of intent to play for the NMU Wildcats next year. Summers said playing college ball became a goal of his following his first season as a varsity player.
“After my sophomore season it was a goal of mine. I knew I had potential; colleges started contacting Moffit,” Summers said. “I did the early signing period. That way I didn’t have to deal with coaches or college recruiters coming to my games.”
He’s looking forward to college ball, but knows it will be difficult.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Summers said. “It’s going to be hard. I’m going to have to fight for playing time. I’m going to have to get in the weight room this summer. I’m excited to have a bond with a new set of brothers.”