LIVINGSTON, NJ - A valiant comeback attempt fell short for the Verona boys basketball team which fell to the Livingston Lancers by a final score of 53-49 on the road on Thursday.
“I’m not upset, they played solid basketball, [Livingston] was just on fire. They made seven threes the first half, they made all their free throws, they couldn’t miss -- we ran into a buzzsaw,” said Verona Head Coach Eric McElroy.
Verona found themselves down 46-32 entering the fourth quarter when they made their stand. Nick Gonzalez and Derek Jocelyn helped send the Hillbillies on a 14-point scoring run to tie the game at 46.
“I said to them ‘get it down to seven with four minutes to go in the fourth’ and they did a little bit better than that. They responded. They were great,” said McElroy.
Livingston scored the next six points on a free throw and three pointer to take a two possession lead. Once again Verona closed the gap to one possession by way of a Gonzalez three pointer. Ultimately, the Hillbillies were one shot too short as Gonzalez’ heroic game tying shot rimmed out for the eventual Lancer win.
“[Gonzalez] last shot was almost in and if it goes in it’s a tie game and we’re in overtime right now,” said McElroy.
Despite failing to hit the game-tying shot Nick Gonzalez shined throughout the second half. Gonzalez scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to give Verona a chance in the contest.
“[Gonzalez] can shoot, he works, he has a really nice shot and he can shoot from all parts of the floor with a lot of range,” said McElroy.
Livingston’s key momentum switch would come in the middle quarters of the game. In the second and third quarters respectfully the Lancers produced periods of 16 points sparked by impressive play from guard Jake Goldstein, who had 20 points on the night.
“They were great, sometimes you lose to teams that do really well,” said McElroy.
Verona’s loss drops the squad to 6-6 on the year ending a two game winning streak in the process. They will look to get back on the winning side when they take on Glen Ridge on Saturday.
“I think we’re playing pretty well. I think we need to go home, we’ve been down on the road for a while, I think going home will help…we’ll get some rest, get back to work and we’ll figure it out,” said McElroy.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.