SUMMIT, NJ - Good teams find a way to win even when they do not perform at their best, and such was the case as the Summit High School girls varsity basketball team took on Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
Madeleine Gramigna and Cassidy O'Malley each had 14 points, and the Hilltoppers used a late third-quarter surge to distance themselves from, and ultimately defeat, the Raiders, 49-42, at the SHS gym.
As they did in their victory earlier in the week against Jonathan Dayton, Summit got off to an 8-0 lead, and Scotch Plains-Fanwood did not score their first bucket until there were three minutes to go in the first quarter, which ended with the Hilltoppers up, 12-6.
The second quarter was back and forth, with each team making mini-runs that kept the quarter even and the game close. At the half, Summit led, 21-16.
The Raiders played a strong first four minutes of the third, but then Summit -- behind Gramigna and O'Malley -- asserted themselves on the game and took a double-digit lead. The lead stretched to 14 points in a matter of minutes, and the quarter ended with the Hilltoppers in command at 39-27.
While a long, three-pointer at the buzzer -- one of six the Raiders made on the night -- made the scoreline seem closer than the game warranted, Summit ground out the last quarter virtually even and never looked seriously threatened.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood's Maddie Maisel had three of the Raiders' triples on the night, and point guard Amani Williams was a handful all game long, as Summit's victory was far from comfortable. Williams finished with 10 points to lead SPF, which is 3-7 on the season. Maisel finished with nine points.
"We know this wasn't one of our best performances, but give credit to Scotch Plains-Fanwood," said Summit head coach Brian Erickson. "They were really good at all facets of the game, shutting down our perimeter offense, and their back-court pressure gave us problems."
Erickson was nonetheless pleased with the resilience his team showed in grinding out the win. "Our senior leadership rises to the challenge in games like this. We beat a really good team tonight. In this type of game last year, I am not sure we get the same result."
Earlier in the evening, the Summit JV, behind 23 points from Ellie Galiardo, beat Scotch Plains-Fanwood in overtime, 45-42.