It’s ugly…but time to race through the rest of the Summit basketball campaign. Recall, the previous three seasons under coach Ed Lyons, the Willie Wilson years, Summit was 66-9, 40-2 in the Suburban Conference. But there was only one senior on the ’74-’75 squad, Tom Gibbons, and it showed.
We pick up the action with Summit having started off 1-5. Then the Hilltoppers lost to Madison, 54-50, as Dave Poole scored 22 and Gibbons 11. That was followed by a 54-40 loss to Caldwell, with Gibbons netting 17.
The following week, the Summit Herald ran the headline, “Dave Poole ‘One-Man Offense’ As Summit Cagers Split.” Poole had 26 in a win over Springfield, 62-46, with Gibbons chipping in 10. But that was followed by a 57-41 loss to Verona as Poole had 25 points and 18 rebounds in the losing effort. Summit was now 2-8, 1-4 in Suburban Conference play.
Next was an overtime loss to Millburn, 54-52, though Tom Gibbons’ 16 led a balanced attack with Rick Jackson scoring 15, Poole 10, and John Merchant 9. Then came a 74-54 loss to New Providence with Poole scoring 24. So it’s 2-10, 1-6 in conference.
On to West Orange, where Poole had 29 and Gibbons 12 in a 65-59 defeat (West Orange some of you will remember was led by stud Harold Morrison), and a 72-62 loss to Madison, with Ron Paxson scoring 21, Gibbons 16, and Poole 10. Summit was 2-12, overall, and 1-8 in conference play.
Two more losses followed…Caldwell, 62-56, with Poole canning 25, Gibbons 13, and Alex Colton 10. And a 53-48 defeat at the hands of Springield as Colton (Al-do!) had 16 and Poole and Merchant 8 apiece. 2-14, 1-10.
It didn’t get any better, either, as Verona blasted Summit 60-43, with Poole scoring 16 and Jackson 10.
Mercifully, the Herald missed a few games and Summit’s last regular season defeat came at the hands of Watchung Hills, 64-58, as Poole had 22, Jackson 12, and Merchant 10.
Finally, Summit played West Essex in the state tournament and it was a 76-62 loss…though Poole had 27 in defeat.
The Hilltoppers finished the season at 2-20, 1-13 in the Suburban Conference. Quite a comedown for Ed Lyons and Co. But things would improve our senior year, sports fans. We’ll get to that next winter.
The boy’s swim team had been 13-1 the previous year but didn’t have quite the same success the winter of ’75. We did have three who consistently won their events in the dual meets, however; Bill Specht in the backstroke and butterfly; Mark Herman in the individual medley and 100-yard freestyle; and Pat Hayes in the 200- and 500-yard free.
In fact, early on, Specht began his assault on the Summit record book, setting one in the 100-yard butterfly. Billy went on to set a record in the same event at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships, 51.5 in a heat when his previous personal best had been 53.5. [Specht won the title in 52.3]
Then Specht broke the state record in the 100-yard backstroke in the State Championship meet, while finishing 2nd in the butterfly. Specht swept the two events in all dual meets and the Union County Championships that winter.
The wrestling team had a tough year, though over the course of the season there were some solid individual efforts on the part of Brad Cabibi, Mike and Anthony Schipani, Dave Goldblat, Mitch Dresdner, John Ficchi, Carl Ganger, Peter Closs and Greg Steinhauser. Steinhauser, who had been out due to an illness earlier in the year, came back strong to win the district title at 141.
And the Beacon Hill hockey team was consistently competitive, led by the likes of John Combias, Bruce Atkinson, Jon Kenyon, Michael Moriarity, and goalie Loch Kelly.
In other news:
Elmer Bennett declined to run for a third term as mayor, setting it up for Frank Lehr to assume the position following November’s vote.
1974 Summit graduate Bob Koppenol ran a 3:09 marathon, which was darn good for a college student back in the day.
Willie Wilson was named to the High School All-American baseball team. Just 11 players were selected across the country. Wilson was headed to spring training with the Royals after a summer at rookie ball following his ’74 graduation.
14-year-old resident Mark Jeffrey was ranked No. 1 in his age group of the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association, quite an accomplishment.
1971 Summit grad Roger Schwanhauser was starring for the Bucknell swim team.
Inflation, and interest rates, were rather high. You could get a 7 3/4% 6-10 year CD then. We’d kill for that kind of return today.
There was an armed robbery at Cumberland Farms with the bandit making off with $90-$100. And the Blue Door Tavery was broken into! “Large amounts of alcohol was taken.”
At The Strand during this period were the following flicks: Burt Reynolds in “The Longest Yard”; “Macon County Line”; “The Man with the Golden Gun”, starring Roger Moore as 007; Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson”, one of my all-time favorites; and Alan Arkin and James Caan in “Freebie and the Bean”.
Due to the energy crisis, in 1975, Daylight Savings Time came on Feb. 23. I totally forgot this, but the year before it was in early January, with a lot of folks ticked off because the sun didn’t rise until after 8:00 a.m. Normally in our youth, and until a few years ago, Daylight Savings Time didn’t hit until April.
Finally, get this. On a Wednesday in February, we went to school as usual though it started to snow. I remember this day, and I’m sure you do, because we were let out at 12:30 p.m. as it then snowed more than expected…7 inches.
But I bring this up because the Herald said it was the biggest storm in over four years! You had to go all the way back to Jan. 1971, when it snowed 9 inches. I forgot we had such a drought on the snow front because as little kids we had quite a few big storms.
Anyway, this past winter in Summit and the entire East Coast, it was quite a different story, I think you’d agree.
Next installment around May 19.