SUMMIT, NJ - Will Hellings scored all of his 14 points in the send half, but it was the final three that were, from a Hilltopper perspective, by far the biggest.
The sophomore's three ball from the left side with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter completed a late comeback and sent the game to overtime, where the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team then put forth a gritty five minutes of play to see off nearly-just-as gritty Oratory Prep, 56-50, at the Main Gym.
The win, the seventh Summit victory in a row, takes the Maroon and White's season slate to 8-1. Junior captain Dom Yorio had a game-high 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half. AJ Kopacz and Casey McKee each had 14 points to pace the Rams, who also got 12 from Billy Skinner.
After back-and-forth first quarter, the Hilltoppers surged in the latter stage of the second frame to take a five-point lead, at 24-19, into the locker room at halftime. A funk somehow followed the home side out of their team room for the third quarter, however, and soon Oratory was level and then ahead, as Summit went nearly five minutes -- to the home fans, it likely seemed like an eternity -- stuck on 29 points and unable to buy a basket or even a free-throw.
Behind 33-31 entering the final eight minutes, Summit either needed to raise their intensity or their neighbors a few hundred yards down Weaver Street would be carrying home a 'W'.
The teams traded points-punches for much of the fourth, but the Hilltoppers still found themselves three behind inside the final two minutes. The deficit would have been more -- and perhaps insurmountable for Summit -- if the visitors could have knocked down a few free throws. The tough truth for the Rams is that, it is equally tough to close out a quality foe when a team misses seven of eight from the charity stripe down the stretch.
After Oratory made one of two free throws to lead 49-46, Summit rebounded and called timeout with 30 seconds remaining. Summit Head Coach Dan Healy diagrammed a play with several options, Hellings floated to an open spot and his defender's close-out was a step late, his rainbow finding nothin' but net, and the Rams' ensuing half-court heave falling well short.
In the overtime period, each team opened with one of two free throws, then Summit's Jackson Tyler drove to the basket and finished. The Hilltoppers led 52-50 and Oratory would not score another point on the day. Summit knocked down their free throws to earn the win.
"It doesn't matter what the (teams') records are, every time these two teams play each other the game is close," said Healy. "We did not bring the energy in the third quarter, and Oratory did a great job of taking advantage of the gaps that we gave them."
Summit is back in action at the Main Gym January 16 when they face Abraham Clark. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Yorio Hits Winner in Low-Scoring Win Over Pioneers
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - For the second time this season, Annabella Yorio had the ball in her hands with the game on the line and, also for the second time, the freshman did not disappoint.
As was the case earlier in the season, when she knocked down two free throws against Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Yorio calmly sank a late jumper that lifted the Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team to a 24-23 victory at New Providence.
Against the Raiders, there was but one-tenth of a second left, so the 2.4 remaining on the clock when she let fly versus the Pioneers likely felt like a relative lifetime to Yorio.
For the second game in a row, Summit dug themselves a deep hole after the opening eight minutes when they trailed 11-2. On this day, however, the visitors regrouped and put forth a strong second quarter that saw the trim the gap to just a deuce at the break, 15-13.
After what was essentially an even third stanza, Summit trailed 22-19 and Hilltopper Head Coach Tom Kenny was forced to strategically substitute with Yorio and senior captain Christina Richson each picking up their fourth foul.
At 3:06 in the fourth quarter Yorio drained a three-pointer to tie the score at 22. New Providence's next possession yielded a single from the charity stripe and a 23-22 Pioneer lead.
With 31 seconds remaining in regulation, senior captain Catherine Maloney made a hard drive to the hoop and was stopped, but grabbed her own rebound. After a timeout by Summit, classmate Kiran McCormick found Yorio in the corner and she performed the late heroics, then stole the subsequent inbounds pass for good measure.
Yorio led Summit with eight points but, as much as her jumper did the business, the framework for the Hilltoppers' gritty win was built on tenacious defense and solid rebounding, where they won the glass battle 35-18, led by Bella Cusumano's nine boards.
Summit -- now 5-4 on the season -- stays on the road, next traveling to face AL Johnson January 16. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.