It was an exciting Friday night at 125 Kent Place Blvd., as the undefeated Summit Boys’ Basketball team honored Wellington Smith, a legendary Hilltopper, and went on to defeat David Brearley.
The Hilltoppers outscored the Bears most of the game to pull out the 62-52 win. But head coach David White, while pleased with the victory, said the team could have performed even better than they did.
“We played well enough to win. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. We had a lot of opportunities to score near the basket we didn’t finish,” said head coach David White. “But there’s no such thing as a bad win so we’re glad to take it. Ba’Shawn [Mickens] was his normal self. [There were] some big shots by Ryan Sweeney and Nasir Andersen. Nasir really gave us the spark off the bench so he really helped out a lot.”
Sweeney scored 18 points for the Hilltoppers. Mickens, the #3 senior guard, was the game's leading scorer with 22 points.
“I’m feeling pretty good. We’re 6-0 now. We’re officially playing, moving the ball around, playing as a team, hitting three pointers,” Mickens told Patch after the game. “I believe we’re 45 percent from the 3 point line so we’re playing pretty well.”
Prior to the Hilltoppers’ victorious performance, White and his players held a ceremony to honor Summit native Wellington Smith, who led the Hilltoppers to their state Sectional Championships in 2004 and 2005.
“This is a special occasion for us,” White said. “Wellington is a guy I’ve gotten to know over the last year or so, and one of the things you get to figure out about him pretty quickly is that he is a terrific young man.”
White outlined Smith’s career accomplishments while at Summit, which included:
- Union County Player of the Year
- Summit boys’ basketball all-time leading scorer with 1,224 points
- 581 points scored in his 2004-2005 season, which included 314 rebounds and a 39-point game
“This young man from Summit High School went to Blair Academy for a post-graduate year where he lead the team to a championship. From there, he went on to West Virginia University [with a full athletic scholarship],” White explained. “He was a four year player and a starter on the team that won an NIT championship. Interestingly enough, my son and I went to Indianapolis to see the Final Four, [West Virginia vs. Duke] before we met Wellington. I had the great pleasure of watching him play his last game in the Final Four, [which West Virginia lost]. I said to my son, even before knowing Wellington, ‘there’s not many people from around here to reach heights like that and it’s a wonderful thing to see.’”
White said Smith went on to a professional career in Japan, which was derailed by injury. From there, he returned to the states and is now engaged to his girlfriend, Chelsy Carey, who attended the Brearley game with Smith.
Eugene Maxwell, the former boys’ basketball head coach, White and the team presented Smith was his #35 framed jersey.
Smith said it feels great to be honored by his high school basketball team, the foundation of his successful basketball career.
“It’s a great honor and I really appreciate Coach White having me here and doing this for me,” Smith told Patch after the ceremony. “It’s definitely a humbling experience and I really appreciate that they had this event for me.”
Smith told Patch that playing basketball at Summit was “a great experience,” as he was able to hone his skills here under people like Coach Maxwell, among others. He said his friends and family really pushed him to reach his accomplishments.
“It’s amazing how I was able to get to different places like Taiwan and Japan just from playing basketball, just by being able to dribble a ball,” Smith told Patch.
Smith’s advice for young basketball players?
“Enjoy it. Enjoy it while it lasts because you never know how long it will last for. Enjoy the opportunity you have because it’s always a great one. And also, use basketball as a ticket because basketball can get you to a lot of different places,” Smith told Patch. “A guy like Ba’Shawn, he’s a really talented player who can use basketball to get him to so many different places. Just the fact that I had been in the Final Four may have been the reason I got my job now [at GameChanger].”
The Hilltoppers, now 6-0, will travel to and play Whippany Park this Tuesday, followed by Jonathan Dayton for the Conference title on Thursday at Dayton.
Tip off is 7 p.m. for both games.
“If we win on Tuesday, that’s our equal win total for last year,” White explained. “It would be nice going into Dayton 7-0 but nothing is easy for us. We make every game interesting.”
Mickens said he thinks the team needs to play tough and dominate Whippany Park and Dayton early.
“We can’t have a bad performance like Morristown where we came out, started slow. That was a four-overtime game,” he explained. “We just have to play tough and stop their best player.”
Brearley at Summit1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter Final Brearley 11 17 11 13 52 Summit 15 18 16 13 62
Summit Boys' Basketball Team Roster