SUMMIT, NJ - As home and season openers go, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team's tilt with Cranford was about 75% perfect.
That description, admittedly oxymoronic, serves as an apt characterization of the first 32 minutes of Hilltopper hoops action, a contest that saw the Hilltoppers 'win' quarters one, three and four by a whopping 32-point margin, with just a stagnant second-quarter performance -- which saw the Cougars edge the points and, at one point, tie the game --being the only blemish on the evening from a Maroon and White perspective.
It all added up to convincing 66-38 Summit win at the Main Gym, which was rocking for most of the night courtesy of a Holiday Attire-clad student section that was given plenty to cheer about by the boys from the 07901.
Junior captain Malcolm Sidebottom had 19 points, and fellow classmates and captains Dom Yorio and Jackson Tyler had 13 points apiece to pace the Hilltoppers. Anders Mhyre led with 11, and Matt Fonseca's nine points led Cranford.
After trading baskets early in the first quarter, Summit went on a 13-3 blitz to close out the first quarter. The push's protagonist was Sidebottom, who had 11 points as the Hilltoppers led 18-9.
But talking about 'perfection' in game one of a season is the ultimate oxymoron, especially for a relatively young team like Summit which will certainly have growing pains now and then. One of those twinges was the second quarter, the first six minutes of which was -- from a home team perspective -- stagnant and turnover-filled.
The result was Cranford scrapping and eventually knotting the score at 25 with 2:05 left before the half. An Eric Baier three-ball, followed by a steal and subsequent layup by Joe Lusardi closed the frame, and Summit led 31-25 at the break.
The third quarter was a lab slide of how Summit Head Coach Dan Healy wants his side to play basketball, with an increase in tempo, intensity and execution evident for all to see. When it was done, the Hilltoppers had dropped 22 points on the Cougars, and the game was basically in the ball bag with Summit up 52-33.
The fourth quarter was about finishing strong for Summit, and they tacked on another nine points to their already hefty lead, claiming the quarter 14-5.
Post-game, Healy was pleased with the "selfless" basketball his team played in the third quarter, especially, and the way his team "shared the basketball, making extra passes during our possessions."
On his team's struggles in the second quarter, Healy said, "We were holding the ball too long and they went to a 1-2-2 zone which made it hard for us to get in a rhythm. We talked at halftime and starting pressuring them, running and jumping at them, in the third quarter. We wanted to put our thumb print on the game."
Summit next gets a very tough, early-season road test when they travel to Scotch Plains-Fanwood December 19. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.