SUMMIT, NJ - Playing their best basketball of the season to date against a top-level opponent, the Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team went toe-to-toe, hoop-for-hoop with Delbarton and emerged with a 63-62 victory in an 'Instant Classic' at the Main Gym. Senior captain Will Hellings hit two late free throws to provide the Hilltoppers with a three-point lead, and the Maroon and White survived two Delbarton possessions inside the final 15 seconds to reach the final horn, at which point a big part of the capacity crowed -- the all-dressed-in-white student section -- stormed the hardwood to celebrate.
It was in fact a capacity crowd by the very definition of the term, as folks were turned away at the entrance with the building filled to its allowable lawful limit. The throngs of fans who flocked to the 1 p.m. tip were no doubt enticed by the ever-spicy rivalry between the two schools. Given the vibe inside, the game had the potential to be a slice of hoops heaven, and the teams then did more than their level best to make that promise a reality.
Summit senior captain Eric Baier had a monster game, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for a big-time Double-Double, while classmates Charles Lord (11), Jalen Russell (9) and Hellings (9) combined for 29 more. Lord hit three humongous second-half three balls -- all at key points of the game -- to claw Hilltoppers back or add to their margin. Senior captain Joe Lusardi was a force defensively as The 'Top improved to 6-2 on the season.
Summit led 29-28 at the half, by five at the end of three, and then withstood a strong push by Delbarton in the fourth that last all the way to the final ticks on the clock.
The Green Wave was led the one-two punch of Jerry Jabbour and Rohin Bobba. In particular, Jabbour was -- for most of the game -- 'lights out', and they play drawn up for Delbarton's final shot at a tie or win looked, understandably, to be going through him. Jabbour never got a shot off, however, as the Hilltoppers swarmed him just outside the arc, prying the ball free and the clock expired during the ensuing scrum.
Afterwards, Summit Head Coach exuded praise for several standouts in what was truly a total team effort. "That was a tremendous win for us. Our kids played so hard and really did some great things. Baier was phenomenal. Lusardi and Connor Demm were great defensively, and Lord and Russell hit some huge shots for us."
Summit stays home and will next face Rahway January 14 at the Main Gym. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.