SUMMIT, N.J. - At times during the opening half of Summit’s Tuesday night blowout win over Cranford, the Hilltopper boys basketball team looked nearly flawless. Ba’Shawn Mickens was creating for himself and others off of the dribble, Ryan Sweeney was hitting the outside shot and Rob Walsh was controlling the paint.
Summit opened the game on a 14-0 run and never looked back. Despite a second half effort by Cranford (outscoring Summit by two), the Hilltoppers never let the Cougars back into the game, and cruised to an easy 68-54 home victory.
“We had a terrific first half, probably the best first half we’ve played al year,” Summit head coach David White said. “We were distributing the ball, finding the open guys.”
Four of Summit’s five starters scored in double figures, led by Mickens’s 19 points and eight assist effort. Both Walsh and Mac Weisner scored 14 points, and Sweeney drained four first quarter 3-pointers, ending with 14 points of his own. Sweeney led the team with 10 rebounds, while Walsh finished with nine.
“Mickens just did a great job distributing the ball, our big guys did great,” White said. “Robbie Walsh took the ball down low a few times and finished beautifully.”
Aside from the first few minutes of the game, the contest was never close. After taking a 16-point lead into the break, Summit withstood an early 7-2 Cranford run, closing the gap to 11 points, but that was as close as the visitors would come.
“It was my teammates who lifted me up and made me play more,” Mickens said. “My coach told me we should pick up the tempo and then everything just clicked.”
Summit responded with a 10-6 run, to go up by 15 points late in the third quarter, and simply staved off any Cranford runs afterwards. The Cougars got the score within 13 a few times in the fourth quarter, but never made any serious threat to the Hilltoppers, who improved to 15-2, while Cranford dropped to 7-11.
“In the second half, we did what we had to do,” White said. “We controlled the ball, there were a few turnovers here and there, but it’s my hope that we continue to play at that level.”
There were times in the game where it looked like Summit’s offense could not be stopped. After a 3-pointer by Cranford’s Sean Trotter cut Summit’s lead to nine, the Hilltoppers went on a 12-0 run which basically ended the game, putting Summit up by 19 with 3:38 still left in the half. During that stretch, Summit was lights out, knocking down four-of-seven from the field and four-of-four from the charity stripe.
“Everyone just plays their roles and does what they have to do to help the team. We have shooters, we have rebounders, we just all play as a unit,” Mickens said.
Summit is in action again on Wednesday at Madison, and then again on Thursday at home against Johnson. Meanwhile, coach White’s first year on the job couldn’t be going much better as they prepare for the upcoming state and county tournaments.
“It’s easy to coach when you have good players,” White said. “I’ve had years where I’ve had good players and I look like a great coach, and I’ve had years where I don’t have very good players and I look like a lousy coach. These guys are making me look very good right now.”