CHATHAM, NJ - It may be too soon to pin a catchy nickname like 'The Cardiac Kids' on the 2019-20 Summit High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team, but they are making a bit of a habit of getting involved in some pulse-quickening finishes. Nine times this season their games have been decided by five points or less.
The good news is that the Maroon and White have won seven of those nine squeakers, with the pair of defeats coming back-to-back against Immaculata and Oratory Prep. Since the soul-crushing loss to the Rams at the horn on January 3, Head Coach Tim Simo's Hilltoppers haven't lost, a run that -- after beating Chatham 45-43 -- has now reached nine games. Staying true to form, four of those nine Summit victories have come by two points or less.
Maybe less is more.
Against the Cougars, a late steal and bucket from senior captain Eric Baier plus a clutch free throw from junior Jeff Greenstein were enough to get Summit to the finish line, the narrow scoreline a skosh deceiving as The 'Top was on top by four and Chatham scored at the final buzzer. Baier led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds while classmate and fellow captain Joe Lusardi added 12 points to pace the boys from the 07901.
Summit senior captain Will Hellings flirted with a Double-Double, his eight-point, 10 rebound effort coming up just a bucket short of that designation and, when he wasn't scoring or rebounding, Baier also found time to collect three assists, three steals and three blocks. The Hiltoppers were larcenous in the 'River Road Rivalry' contest, generating 14 steals in total led by Lusardi (3), Hellings (3), Greenstein (2) and Baier.
Andrew Bergman had a strong game for Chatham, delivering a 13-point, 14-rebound Double-Double. Luke Fekete added 11.
In a relatively low-scoring affair, Summit led 16-11 after the opening eight minutes and 23-18 at the half. The second half was tight all the way, with the Cougars getting as close as a point, but the find-a-way-to-win Hilltoppers did just that to improve to 12-2 on the season.
Next up for Summit is January 28 home tilt versus Cranford. Tip-off at the Main Gym is set for 7 p.m.