SUMMIT, NJ - Their hearts and minds were willing. Physically? That was a different story.
Suffering from the effects of an influenza bug that swept its way through their roster, the Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team -- despite jumping out to an early lead -- had their collective needle hit "E," and they dropped a 57-35 decision to Somerville in the NJSIAA Tournament.
The loss ends the Hilltoppers' season, with the Pioneers advancing to the tournament semifinals.
Christina Richson led Summit with 12 points, Cassidy O'Malley had 11, but no other Hilltopper scored more than five.
Summit actually bolted out to a 7-0 lead, but it was soon evident that they could not sustain the energy levels necessary to hold off a quality opponent such as Somerville. The Maroon & White trailed 13-11 after one quarter, and found themselves down 26-17 at the half.
The Pioneers shot 54% on the night, even though the Hilltoppers played tough defense -- especially in the opening 16 minutes of basketball -- while Summit shot 18% from the field.
Somerville effectively sealed the deal in the third quarter, opening the frame 9-0 to take a 18-point lead. The Pioneers' Melody Van Ness did most of the damage, scoring a game-high 27 points.
"The flu bug hit us about two weeks ago and it came to a head this week, with many players out of practices and games," said Summit Head Coach Tom Kenny. "Take nothing away from Somerville, but if we are full strength, I'd like to think it's a different game."
Summit ends the season with a record of 15-9.