March 10, 2014 at 8:12 PM
NEWARK, NJ - There are very talented teams. There are teams that are big physically. And, there are teams that are well-coached. In the NJSIAA North 2, Group 3 final, the Summit boys varsity basketball team met all three rolled into one in the Red Raiders of East Side High School of Newark.
Behind 25 points from Akbar Hoffman, the Red Raiders opened the game on an 8-0 run and never looked back, downing the Hilltoppers, 54-25, at East Side,
The first quarter established the tone, and -- essentially dictated the outcome of -- the game. East Side was hot from the outside, Summit was cold and, when they missed, the Hilltoppers were limited to one shot per possession as East Side owned the glass.
Summit's effort was there but, with no margin for error, the game quickly got out of hand. Summit's first hoop -- a Kyle Crotty three -- came with but 1:40 to go in the first quarter. It was 15-3 after the first period and 29-6 at the half. Hoffman hit three 3-pointers in the half, and had 15 points. While the Hilltoppers competed hard until the end, the mountain was far too much to climb.
In defeat, Crotty led Summit with 11 points.
"They are a great team, the top team in the State," said Summit head coach Jim Davidson. "They shot lights out, moved the ball well, are big, and got extra shots off the boards. We got some good looks, but we were only able to get one shot each time down the floor."
The championship game loss cannot obscure, however, the tremendous season engineered by Davidson and his staff, and executed with passion and purpose by his players.
The Hilltoppers won 20 game versus just five losses, and advanced to the sectional finals for just the third time in the past four decades.
"It was a great season, the kids played hard right to the very end. To come here, in this setting, and play a team like this is a great experience," Davidson said.