BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Surviving a second quarter in which they scored just a single point, the Summit High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team used a strong offensive second half and sank four free throws in the final 30 seconds to earn a comeback win over Ridge 36-33.
The game was part of what has now become an annual event honoring the late and legendary coach Kyle Kirst, with Hanover Park and Bernards also playing as part of the hoops doubleheader.
Hilltopper senior captain Bella Cusumano had eight points to lead all scorers, with sophomores Annabella Yorio and Sarah Maldonado adding six apiece. Freshman Olivia Lawlor and senior captain Micaela Nardino both notched five points as part of a balanced Summit scoring output.
After Ridge shaded the first quarter 11-9, Summit could not find a bucket in the following eight minutes, with the Maroon and White's own stingy defense preventing the game from getting out-of-hand.
Trailing 18-10 beginning the third quarter, the Hilltoppers continued their tough defense and started finding some shots on offense. Cusumano hit two treys in the quarter and Summit chipped away at the Ridge lead. Halfway through the period, Summit had cut the deficit to three, when Yorio got a great feed from Lawlor as she cut to basket to make score 24-23 Red Devils with 3:07 to go in quarter. The Hilltoppers went on to score the final three points of the stanza to 'win' the frame 16-9 and take the lead for first time in game, 26-24.
Maldonado's fourth-quarter offense in the paint elevated Summit's lead to 32-28 with 2:39 left in regulation. Ridge wasn't done, however, battling back and taking the lead via consecutive baskets, including a three-pointer.
Down by 32-33 with 0:37 in regulation, sophomore Kiran McCormick got to line on a one-and-one and knocked both shots down to put Summit up 34-33. Great defense by The 'Top forced a Red Devil turnover on their next possession and Lawlor got to line for a one-and-one. The freshman made them both with 0:11 remaining and Summit was now up by three, 36-33.
Ridge managed to launch a contested three, but the shot was off the mark and Summit had its eighth win (against three losses) of the campaign.
Next up for the Hilltoppers is a January 17 trip to Union Catholic. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.