January 31, 2013 at 11:40 PM
SUMMIT, N.J. - When the Summit boys' basketball team saw its 14 point first quarter lead cut down to five at halftime, the Hilltopper knew they couldn't just coast past a feisty David Brearley team.
Summit's Ryan Sweeney and Rob Walsh responded, combining for 21 third quarter points to help the Hilltoppers pull away in a blowout road win in Kenilworth, 73-55.
"We kind of underestimated them a little bit, we kind of let them back into it, but we were able to refocus and regroup and start playing like we did in the first quarter," Sweeney said. "We really picked it up in the third quarter, everyone just wanted to leave no doubt in that game anymore."
Both Sweeney and Walsh caught fire in the third, sparking a mid-period 12-4 run, turning a nine-point contest into a 17 point rout. Sweeney led the team with 21 points, Walsh scored 18 and snagged 10 boards, while Ba'Shawn Mickens also dropped 20 points for the Hilltoppers, behind four 3-pointers, and a 13-point first quarter.
"I thought we started out great, we went to the bench and the bench did not keep up the level of play that we hoped to have," Summit head coach David White said. "And then we went back to the first unit guys, and they do what they do. We have a lot of talent, we have a lot of size, and even the second unit guys are capable of some great things, they just need to give us a little bit more, because we're going to need them at some point."
Summit's defense also clamped down in the third quarter, allowing only 10 points. Walsh's presence on the inside did not make things easy for the Bears, who managed just four field goals, and were forced into a lot of bad shots.
"He's a huge presence, especially with teams he's bigger against, and even if he's not blocking a shot, he's affecting a shot," Sweeney said of Walsh. "He's getting every rebound he physically can, and he's a beast down there."
Once the Hilltoppers extended to the 17 point lead, the Bears never got closer than 14 points to Summit, despite an excellent fourth quarter by Brearley's Khayri Hudeen, who dropped 12 of his game-high 26 in the final period.
The win improved Summit to an impressive 13-2 mark and has them looking good to take a high seed in both the upcoming Union County and North II Group 3 state sectional tournament. The team's 73 points was the second highest total of the season.
"This is the time of year where we have to put it together," White said. "We had a very nice win against Dayton the other night, but unfortunately we stumbled against Hillside on Friday, so unless Dayton trips up, we blew an opportunity to win the conference... Hopefully we can continue to be better every day."
Summit doesn't get much time to celebrate the victory, as the Hilltoppers come back home for a match against New Providence tomorrow night.