SUMMIT – If the host Hilltoppers were going to be the first team to beat Dayton and also remain undefeated at home, they had to take the fourth quarter.
That meant initially halting Dayton’s momentum – the Bulldogs closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take a four-point lead – and then finding a way to fill the hoop, while also getting back and playing in-your-face defense.
“We knew that we could score, we just had to turn it on offensively, and then we played great defense, got a couple of steals and made our shots,”
said Summit junior Mac Wiesner, who scored five of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Hilltoppers to within one.
After being outscored in the second and third quarters, Summit came back to play one of its best periods of the season in the fourth quarter in defeating Dayton 46-41 Tuesday night in a much-anticipated and well-attended Union County Conference-Valley Division boys’ basketball clash.
Summit outscored Dayton 18-9 in the final eight minutes, including a 9-0 run after Dayton extended its biggest lead to six and then another 6-0 run following a Bulldog free throw.
Summit began the fourth quarter on a game-changing 15-1 run that saw it score from the outside – Wiesner and the game’s leading scorer, senior Ba’Shawn Mickens, connected on 3s – and also inside, with junior center Robbie Walsh going strong to the basket for two of his three field goals.
Summit improved to 12-2 overall and 9-2 in the Valley Division, while Dayton – Union County’s last undefeated basketball team – lost for the first time this season, falling to 13-1 overall and 10-1 in the Valley Division.
The only difference in their records is that Dayton won at Valley Division rival Hillside by one point, while Summit lost at Hillside by a point. Both teams defeated Hillside at home.
As a result, Dayton still holds a one-game lead over Summit in the Valley Division, with both teams having three more division games remaining.
Dayton was the first team to beat Summit, holding on for a 49-48 Valley Division victory in Springfield back on Jan. 10. Both teams were 7-0 at the time.
Summit not only returned the favor by being the first team to beat Dayton, but the Hilltoppers also held the Bulldogs to their lowest point total of the season in doing so.
Ironically, Summit was also held to its lowest output. Its second-lowest was the 48 it scored against Dayton in the first division contest. The only two games Summit – which is averaging 65 points – failed to score at least 59 points were its division battles vs. Dayton.
Summit remained undefeated at home, improving to 7-0 in its own gym. Dayton is also 7-0 at home.
If Summit is to win a share of the Valley Division title, the Hilltoppers will need Roselle Park, Oratory Prep or New Providence to defeat Dayton, while Summit will have to beat Brearley, New Providence and Johnson again. Dayton defeated Roselle Park, Oratory Prep and New Providence the first time around by an average of 25 points.
After Dayton reserve Joe Rogers scored the first points of the fourth quarter off an offensive rebound to give the Bulldogs a 34-28 lead and a 10-0 run, Summit came right back. Walsh scored inside, Wiesner hit a 3-pointer from the left side and then – following a Wiesner rebound – junior Ryan Sweeney drove down the court and made a layup to give the Hilltoppers the lead for good at 35-34 with 5:08 to go.
Walsh scored inside again for a three-point lead before Dayton senior Jared Clayton made one of two free throws to pull the Bulldogs to within two at 37-35. Clayton and teammate Isaiah Rogers, also a senior, led Dayton with 12 points each.
Mickens then drained his last basket, which was a big 3-pointer from the left side, to make it 40-35. Matt Fischetti followed with a free throw and two more by Sweeney put the lead at 43-35 with 1:10 remaining.
Summit first-year head coach David White on what he thought the difference was in the fourth quarter: “We went to man-to-man because we were in a little bit of foul trouble with our bigs. Once we got to the fourth quarter we didn’t have to worry about that so much.
“We forced them to, maybe, take some shots that they didn’t want to take and our guys did a great job of rebounding and we took care of the ball a little better.”
For Summit down the stretch it was a combination of Mickens hitting a big basket – although White confirmed that he didn’t shoot the ball as much as he normally does – and Walsh establishing himself inside. Walsh scored all seven of his points in the second half.
“Robbie did a real nice job of holding his ground and keeping the ball up and his points were huge,” White said.
Wiesner iced the game by making two free throws with 18.4 seconds remaining to put Summit up 45-38.
When Dayton was outscored 8-4 in the first quarter, the Bulldogs only shot one-of-10 from the field.
Dayton came back to finish strong in the second quarter, closing the first half on a 7-0 run to take its first lead and go up 19-16 at intermission. Senior forward Elijah Brown hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key – he finished with nine points – senior Yousef Zaki made a free throw and Isaiah Rogers scored on a layup for the final first half points.
Dayton received a fine four-point, three-rebound, one block effort off the bench from Joe Rogers, a junior.
“Joey has a good upside and he gave us an offensive spark,” Dayton head coach Bob Martin said.
Martin on what he thought the difference was in the fourth quarter: “We had some empty possessions. They made shots down the stretch and that was the difference. We talked about having to make shots down the stretch and having to play defense. Give Summit credit, they made the shots and played better defense.”
Summit jumped out to a 5-0 lead, with Mickens scoring all five points, before Dayton scored. Both teams were sloppy in the first quarter, committing numerous turnovers.
“At times in the beginning we just weren’t really in rhythm offensively,” Martin said. “Yousef played well defensively in the first half (he had three blocks) and then got into some foul trouble, which was kind of what happened to them in the first game with their big guy (Walsh) getting into foul trouble.
On Thursday, Dayton is scheduled to host Roselle Park at 7, while Summit is at Brearley at 7.
Summit picked up important power points for its eventual seed in the North 2, Group 3 playoffs. The state tournament cutoff date is Saturday.
The Union County Tournament, which should have both Dayton and Summit in preliminary round games on Feb. 10, will be seeded next Wednesday.
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISON GAME
DAYTON (13-1, 10-1) 4 15 13 9 – 41
SUMMIT (12-2, 9-2) 8 8 12 18 – 46
DAYTON BULLDOGS (41):
3-Elijah Brown, senior, 1-2-1-9
23-Jared Clayton, senior, 1-3-1-12
33-Joe Rogers, junior, 2-0-0-4
24-Isaiah Rogers, senior, 3-2-0-12
34-Yousef Zaki, senior, 1-0-1-3
2-Anthony Cioffi, senior, 0-0-1-1
Starters: Clayton, Isaiah Rogers,
Cioffi, Brown, Zaki
SUMMIT HILLTOPPERS (46):
25-Ryan Sweeney, junior, 1-0-3-5
10-Mac Wiesner, junior, 3-1-2-11
24-Matt Fischetti, junior, 0-0-1-1
3-Ba’Shawn Mickens, senior, 2-3-2-15
41-Robbie Walsh, junior, 3-0-2-8
11-Nasir Anderson, senior, 0-1-0-3
22-Petie Cummins, junior, 0-1-0-3
Starters: Wiesner, Fischetti,
Walsh, Sweeney, Mickens