BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The visiting Summit Hilltoppers ran out to a quick double digit lead and never looked back as they defeated the Gov. Livingston Highlanders 72-43 last night in Berkeley Heights. The Highlanders (6-10) could not find a way to slow down the Hilltopper offense as they surrendered a season high 41 first half points on their way to a third consecutive loss. Summit evened their season record at 9-9 and defeated Gov. Livingston for the second time this season.
Both teams were looking to capture power points to advance their seeding in the upcoming North Jersey Section II state playoffs. Summit currently holds onto the 8th seed,while Gov. Livingston is clinging to the 13th seed in the 16 team sectional field. The final seedings will be determined after the completion of all NJSIAA games on February 4th.
The Highlanders seemed to be a step behind the Hilltoppers right from the opening tap as they found themselves trailing 18-5 with just over a minute to go in the first quarter. Gov. Livingston managed to close out the first quarter with a Jason Coldon lay up and a pair of free throws from Matt Schuman to cut the Summit lead to 9.
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Gov. Livingston opened the second quarter with a Coldon put back and a pair of free throws from Tyler McCulloch bringing the Highlanders to within seven at 20-13. However, the Highlanders momentum proved to be short-lived. Summit then hit the Highlanders with a combination of a stifling pressure defense and a surgical offensive attack against a Highlander zone defense to open up an 18 point halftime lead. Governor Livingston junior Liam Wolfe interrupted the Hilltoppers run with a hoop and a pair of free throws but the Highlanders could not handle Summit’s Chip Roriston (24 pts) scoring down low and Finbar McCormick(13 pts) hitting from the outside.
The second half proved to be a repeat of the first with Gov. Livingston having a hard time finding any scoring and Summit hitting shots from all over the court expanding their lead. Highlander Coach Chris Loeffler went deep into the bench looking for the right combination of players or a hot hand to get his squad back into the game, but it was Hilltoppers who had all the answers. Summit connected on 8 three pointers in the game and with Roriston converting 11 free throws, they cruised to their dominating win. Senior Billy Pencek led the Highlanders with 12 points.
Next up for the Highlanders is a cross county game with a tough 13-3 Millburn team on Saturday in Berkeley Heights. The Millers are led by 6' 8" Zach Ravitz who is averaging 16 points per game.