SUMMIT, NJ - Utilizing a stifling defense, a dominating performance on the defensive glass, and a 19 point plus 12 rebound double-double from senior captain Cassidy O'Malley, the Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team earned a 40-27 triumph of neighbor rivals Chatham.
"Against Chatham you have to defend from the outside in," said Summit Head Coach Tom Kenny. "Our intensity was off the charts from the get-go, and that is one of the best defensive performances I have seen in my 25 years of coaching."
Indeed, while the Cougars had a poor shooting night on their own floor, that result was due much more to with the Hilltoppers suffocating defensive performance than Chatham's aim being off the mark.
Summit, now 9-3 on the season, contested virtually every shot by their opponents, did an excellent job eliminating space for Chatham to operate in and, when there was a defensive rebound to be had, it came down in the hands of the Maroon & White.
The Hilltoppers set the tone early, jumping out to an 8-0 lead, an advantage they would never relinquish. Summit led 12-4 after the opening eight minutes, with O'Malley getting 10 out of the team's 12 points. While they weren't flawless, the Hilltoppers did a solid job breaking Chatham's full-court press and, as a result, consistently got good looks going to the rim.
The second quarter was more balanced in terms of play and the score line. Chatham and Summit traded mini-runs, the Hilltoppers streak a 5-0 burst to take the lead back up to nine, at 20-11, with 2:16 left in the frame. The teams went to the halftime break with Summit leading 24-15.
Playing the third quarter in a mirror image, albeit even more defensively oriented, of the second, Chatham opened the second half with a 5-0 run, which was answered by an 8-2 Hilltopper run fueled by a three-ball from Christina Richson, and a bucket from O'Malley. The teams were level in the quarter 8-8, and Summit took a 32-23 lead to the final eight minutes.
Summit ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the fourth, holding the Cougars to just four points, and Caitlin Osmulski knocked down four key free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.
In addition to O'Malley's double-double, Catherine Maloney had 12 rebounds, while Richson added eight points and seven boards.
Michaela Ford led Chatham with 12, and Veronica Kelly had eight.
The impending snowstorm has caused Summit's home game versus Cranford, scheduled for January 23 at the Main Gym, to be postponed. The Hilltoppers next game will be January 26 at Governor Livingston, with tip-off is set 7 p.m.
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