SUMMIT, NJ - Delivering a Usain Bolt-like performance, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team blasted out of the blocks and never looked back, easing to a commanding 65-43 win over Cranford.
On a gusty night in the Hilltop City, The Maroon & White blew away the Cougars with a 26-point first quarter -- which produced a 16-point lead -- and never let up, rendering the final two quarters a 16-minute victory lap.
A balanced Hilltopper scoring attack was led by senior captains Will Schaffer and Chip Roriston -- each of whom tallied 13 points -- with sophomore Malcolm Sidebottom's adding 12. Summit was spot-on all over the court, but did specific damage by draining 10 three balls on the evening. All told, 11 Hilltoppers got on the scoresheet.
A team that has had its share of slow or indifferent starts, the Hilltoppers dialed up the intensity and overwhelmed Cranford by racing out to a 13-2 advantage. The lead grew to 17-5 with 2:26 left and the quarter subsequently came to a close with a moment that typified the contest. Off a missed Summit shot, sophomore point guard Finbar McCormick outhustled everyone wearing a blue uniform to tip the ball away on a late rebound scrum, keeping the play alive and leading to his own bucket at the horn.
Up 26-10 heading to the second quarter, a bit of a Summit let-off might have been possible, but the Hilltoppers stayed on the throttle, and when McCormick stole the ball and then hit a floater in the lane, the lead was 31-12 at the 5:15 mark.
Sidebottom drove to the basket and scored three minutes before halftime, and it was 41-17. Summit was relentless, Cranford was defenseless, and the teams went to the break with the Hilltoppers in total control at 42-20.
The only pockmark on the blitzkrieg first half was when Schaffer was forced from the game, the victim of a hard foul as he drove to the basket. As a precaution, and in light of the fact the game was in hand, the senior captain did not return.
A 17-10 'win' in the third frame meant it was 59-30 and led to a substitution-laden, eight-minute stroll to the finish line -- better known as the fourth quarter.
"We had some extra time off this week, midterms are over, and we were able to recalibrate," said Summit Head Coach Dan Healy. "We were focused on both ends of the floor and we finished well. Basketball is a rhythm game, and tonight we were committed and executed,, which allowed us to get into a really good rhythm."
Summit, 8-7 on the season, now travels to Scotch-Plains Fanwood January 28 for a 1 p.m. tip-off.