SUMMIT, NJ - Up by eight points heading into the final eight minutes of basketball, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team was victimized by an 12-0 Rahway run which turned the tide in the visitor's favor and, ultimately, turned a Hilltopper 'W' into an 'L', with the the Maroon and White falling 38-37 at the Main Gym.
The defeat, Summit's second in-a-row, sees their record dip to 8-3 on the season and featured contributing causes that have reared their less-than-fun-to-look-at 'selves several times previously this season -- namely, difficulty finishing off an opponent, a perceived paucity of poise down the stretch, and the inability to (fully) take advantage of charity when it is presented to them at 'The Stripe' that carries said label of benevolence.
Playing without injured leading scorer Malcolm Sidebottom, Summit was unlikely to really light it up on the offensive end but, at the sunset of 24 minutes of hoops, the Maroon and White had done enough to claw out an eight-point lead at 31-23, their defense and ability to take care of the rock combining to hold a very athletic Indians squad to a startling low number after three quarters.
Then the fourth quarter rolled around.
Rahway's high-pressure jump and trap defense began to really rattle the home team and the Hilltoppers began to turn it over with alarming regularity. Rahway wasn't pristine offensively, but was getting second- and third-chance baskets and doing damage in transistion.
The reversal took just over four minutes and Summit found itself down by 35-31 with 2:10 remaining when junior Eric Baier -- who had a game-high 17 points -- spalshed a three-ball for the first Hilltopper points of the quarter. After the Indians made one of two from the foul line, senior captain Dom Yorio drove straight down Broadway to the rack and finished, tieing the game at 36 with 1:25 left.
Rahway's Jordan Bell ultimately got the winning points, however, slashing through the Summit defense to the basket for a lay-up with 40 seconds to go. After that, three Summit missed foul shots -- out of four attempts over two possessions -- meant that the math was not going to work out in home team's favor.
"I thought we did a good job handling their pressure until late in the game when we turned it over," said Summit Head Coach Tim Simo. "Missed free throws were, again, a probem, and we didn't rebound well which gave them too many second-chance opportunities."
Summit now will face their closest neighbor -- literally -- when they matchup against Oratory Prep in a Summit Roundball Derby January 19 at the home of the Rams. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.