SUMMIT, NJ – Senior Kelly Osmulski led the Summit Lady Hilltoppers with 22 points and Kate Martino scored 14 as they outscored Westfield 39-17 in the second half after trailing by seven at halftime en route to their fourth straight win with a 57-42 victory on Monday afternoon at Summit High School.
After a slightly lackluster performance in the first half, Summit got help from a somewhat unlikely hero in the third quarter to fire up their offense and take control of the game. That came from forward Nicole Johnson, who scored nine of her 13 points in the first eight minutes after halftime.
“We talked as a team about how we need more energy as a whole and communicate better,” Johnson said of the message to the team at halftime. “I was just working on getting open more and taking my open shots.”
And Johnson hit those open shots as part of the first six points for Summit in the third quarter when she connected on three medium range jumpers. Then, after Osmulski made two foul shots to tie the game at 26 apiece, Johnson put in a free throw to give her team the first lead of the second half at 27-26 with 5:02 left in the third.
Westfield was able to re-gain the advantage on their next possession when Jacqueline Knapp hit two free throws in a third quarter that saw five lead changes. Lillian Scott, who led Westfield with 16 points, later made a three pointer in the third to make the score 32-29 before Emily Brucia made a layup to make the score 39-37 with 1:05 remaining.
The last four points of the third were scored by Summit when Martino swished two foul shots and then stole the ball from Scott and hit a layup in transition as the home team was up 41-39 heading into the final quarter of play.
“We got better looking shots and we did what we do which is get up and down the floor. I think we woke up a little bit,” Summit Head Coach Brian Erickson said of the second half. “Give them (Westfield) all the credit. Those kids played as hard as any team that we played all year. They did everything right and they played hard. We made some adjustments and I’m really proud of our kid’s efforts in the second half.”
Erickson was probably more specifically proud of the Summit effort in the fourth quarter; particularly on the defensive side of the ball as they allowed only three points from Westfield in the final eight minutes as Summit was able to run away with the game.
Martino and Osmulski were able to combine for 14 of Summit’s 16 points in the fourth by taking the ball to the basket and converting on layups and free throws.
The defense was able to force ten missed shots from Westfield in the fourth quarter and converted many of those misses into transition opportunities going the other way.
Only Scott was able to connect when she made a three pointer with 1:20 left when Summit pretty much had the game well in hand.
“I just think our defense stepped up and that really made the difference for us. We started playing smarter and really used our fast break to start taking control,” Johnson said.
Westfield was down 10-7 heading into the second quarter, but then was able to catch fire to take the lead.
They scored 18 points in the second with some well balanced offense and strong shooting. Scott led with five in the second on a three ball and a layup and Knapp and Brucia contributed with four points apiece as they held a 25-18 lead at halftime.
“What I was happy about was our energy level and hustle,” Westfield Head Coach Joseph Marino said. “That’s about all I can ask for. We’re a young team and were getting better because we can stay competitive with these top teams.”
Summit is now 13-4 and Westfield drops to 8-11. The teams will not have to wait more than 24 hours for the regular season re-match as it takes place this afternoon at 4 p.m. at Westfield High School.