SUMMIT, NJ - There were times during their 2016-17 season when it appeared to neutral observers that it was 'Christina Richson versus the World' for the Hilltopper Girls Varsity Basketball Team.
The then-junior guard, known for her splash tactics from Three Point Land, would find herself the near-sole focus of the opposition's defense with the message sent loud and clear: "stop Number 10 and you stop Summit."
Often face guarded, Richson persevered and still found a way to score 373 points for the season, bringing her career total to 842 and well within reach of the milestone 1,000-point mark. Sixty-eight of her career 167 treys came during the '16-'17 campaign.
Wins, however, for the team were all too scarce, with the 07901ers finishing a challenging season 8-18.
Richson's seasonal life on 'basketball island' was made even more Castaway-like by the fact that two of the squad's more potent points threats -- juniors Catherine Maloney and Grace Keegan -- both went down with injuries and missed big chunks of the season.
There is a beam of bright light in the Maroon and White tunnel, however, as both Maloney and Keegan are back -- the latter's recovery a testament to equal parts modern medicine, grit, hard work and perseverance -- and the Hilltoppers should not be -- according to Head Coach Tom Kenny -- a one-trick bucket pony.
"We are as deep as we've been," said Kenny. "If teams defend us to stop just one player, I think we will make them pay."
Adding to the depth is an influx of Freshman, one of whom -- Annabella Yorio -- is penciled in to start at point guard. The three seniors -- Richson, Maloney and Keegan -- have all been named captains and will form the nucleus of Summit's offensive and defensive prowess. The fifth starter is junior Bella Cusumano.
Other new-to-the-Kent Place Boulevard-campus contributors are Ninth Graders Kiran McCormick and Sarah Maldonado, both of whom will likely make significant impacts. The young 'uns will likely be a part of a rotation that also will include key minutes for the bulk of the roster, including junior Micaela Nardino and sophomore Sylvie Goudreau.
At times, the lineup may feature up to four guards on the floor, and the ability to shoot the rock will be a key team attribute that should take the heat off Richson and make the Hilltoppers a heckuva lot harder to defend.
Summit also has enough height to be able to stand up to teams with size and length.
Importantly, Kenny says the senior leadership has embraced their underclass teammates, who will undoubtedly need a bit of time to adjust to the pace and life of high school varsity hoops.
"The captains have done a great job helping our younger kids to grow and, as a team, we are building chemistry and confidence."
2017-18 Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team
10 - Christina Richson, Senior (C)
20 - Catherine Maloney, Senior (C)
22 - Grace Keegan, Senior (C)
34 - Tatyana Lewis, Senior
21 - Victoria Harvey, Senior
15 - Micaela Nardino, Junior
11 - Bella Cusumano, Junior
4 - Ellie Anderson, Junior
23 - Grace Mahoney, Junior
5 - Sylvie Goudreau, Sophomore
33 - Fritzie DiMayorca, Sophomore
3 - Annabella Yorio, Freshman
2 -Kiran McCormick, Freshman
24 - Sarah Maldonado, Freshman
(C) - denotes team captain
Tom Kenny, Head Coach
Kyle Dattola, Assistant Coach
Dan Trench, Junior Varsity Head Coach
Danielle DeGraw, Freshman Team Head Coach
Isaac Welsh, Middle School Head Coach
2017-18 Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team Schedule
Saturday, December 16, 10:30 a.m., at Cranford
Tuesday, December 19, 5:30 p.m. v. Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Thursday, December 21, 5:30 p.m. at Union Catholic
Wednesday, December 27, 7:15 p.m., SUMMIT HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
Thursday, December 28, TBA, SUMMIT HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
Thursday, January 4, 7 p.m., at Governor Livingston
Saturday, January 6, 12 p.m., v. Montclair
Tuesday, January 9, 4 p.m., at Rahway
Thursday, January 11, 7 p.m., v. Oak Knoll
Saturday, January 13, 12 p.m., at New Providence
Tuesday, January 16, 7 p.m., at AL Johnson
Thursday, January 18, at Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Saturday, January 20, TBA at Bernards - KYLE KIRST MEMORIAL GAME
Tuesday, January 23, 4 p.m., at Union
Thursday, January 25, 7 p.m., v. Governor Livingston
Saturday, January 27, 12 p.m., v. Rahway
Thursday, February 1, 4 p.m., at Oak Knoll School
Saturday, February 3. TBA, at Immaculata
Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., v. Westfield
Thursday, February 8, 7 p.m., v. AL Johnson
Monday, February 12, 7 p.m., v. Roselle Catholic
Thursday, February 22, 5:30 p.m., at Morris Knolls
February 9-24 - Union County Tournament
February 26 - NJSIAA Tournament begins