SUMMIT, NJ - Entering the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team's matchup with Hillside at the Main Gym, Hilltopper Malcolm Sidebottom was a lock to become just the seventh boys basketball player in school history to reach the hallowed 1,000-point mark. After all, he was sitting on 999 career points, so there was zero doubt that the senior captain would reach the milestone on a night when he and six of his classmates were also set to be honored on 'Senior Night'.
The only questions were when -- at what point in the game -- it would happen and how he would do it.
In retrospect, the only real question was the former, as it just wouldn't have been apropos if Sidebottom's fourth digit in career scoring came from anywhere but beyond the arc. And, sure enough, the Hoops Gods agreed. Because, at 6:43 mark of the first quarter on the left side extended from the top of the key, Sidebottom launched a rainbow that yielded a pot 'o gold in the form of points 1,000 - 1,002, inclusive. The successful trey was the 224th of his three-year Varsity career, and it brought exaltation from the crowd and his teammates alike, along with some balloons, a banner and brief on-court photo op.
Sidebottom's achievement was just one part of a full-on, feel-good evening for the Maroon and White, as the seven seniors -- Sidebottom, Nick Loeloff, Finbar McCormick, Kyle Standing. Jackson Tyler, Harry Walsh and Dom Yorio -- were properly feted pre-game, and Summit owned the court in-game, running away from Hillside early and winning comfortably, 72-45.
Sidebottom flirted with his career-high (of 29), dropping 26 points including four threes. Junior Eric Baier added 14 as nine Hilltoppers scored. Nahree Biggins scored 16 and Justin Garrett added 10 to pace the Comets.
Understandably, the game was a bit clunky for bit following the early on-court celebration, but Summit eventually settled into a rhythm and began putting points on the board and the visitors in their rearview mirror.
After leading just 12-8 after the opening quarter, Summit went on a quick 12-1 burst to bump the lead to fifteen points, at 24-9. Halftime arrived with the Hilltoppers ahead 30-14 and then, thanks to a 21-point third frame output, the bulge was upped to a matching 21 points, 51-30.
With the result decided and the score drifting from lopsided to out-of-hand and back, the contest got a bit chippy in the latter stages of the third quarter and into the final stanza, but cooler heads quickly prevailed all around, and Summit rolled to its 18th win on the season.
"This is an extra special group," said Summit High School Head Coach Tim Simo of his seven seniors. "I coached them when they were on our undefeated freshman team, and I have seen how hard they work, and have worked, every day and how far they have come. Now we look to have some real success in the state tournament."
Before the get to tournament play, Summit (18-6) travels to play Pascack Valley February 22. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.