BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. - Rivalry games are more than just two teams on the court trying to win. There's pride, poise and fans all in the equation. Often times its not the better team who wins, but the team who forgets the intangibles and focuses on the task at hand.
During Saturday's Governor Livingston and New Providence Super-Saturday showdown, that team was the Highlanders.
Despite being the younger, inexperienced of the two, the Highlanders cruised to a 42-21 win over the Pioneers.
"We've had some Super-Saturdays where the guys didn't handle it," Governor Livingston head coach Steve Petruzzelli said. "They played to the crowd, took bad shots, didn't play with poise, rushed everything. For a young team, to be as poised as they were, we have a lot of freshman and sophomores playing, for them to handle this environment was tremendous."
The rivalry started off slow, with the teams scoring a combined 14 points in the first quarter. Highlander freshman Javon Reis-Wilson sunk two 3-pointers in the final two minutes to put GL up 8-6.
The second quarter was just the same. New Providence opened the period on a 7-2 run, courtesy of a 3-point basket from Michael Wilderotter and a putback-layup from Matt Romeo.
Governor Livingston's Robert Imbalzano responded by scoring all seven of GL's second quarter points to give his team a 15-13 lead going into halftime.
"The first concern i have on this day is always playing with poise, more than any other game," Petruzelli said. "I'm concerned that we won't do what we prepare to do and not let the crowd get into it. I thought we did a better job."
Governor Livingston took over in the second half. Their defense held the Pioneers to just one point in the third quarter compared to the 12 the Highlander offense scored. Reis-Wilson added another deep ball, while Cam DeFronzo put up six points, giving GL the 27-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Reis-Wilson added six more points for a game-high 13.
"Javon is just special," Petruzzelli said. "As a ninth grader, he does't look very mature, but he has a basketball maturity way beyond his years, his poise under pressure. He's played a lot of basketball growing up. He has that gene that doesn't get rattled. He was the least phased kid in the game today."
New Providence's Tyler Curto put up seven of his team-high nine in the final quarter, but it was too little, too late, as New Providence fell to the Highlanders, 42-21.
The Pioneers return to the floor on Tuesday when they host Morris Catholic, when Governor Livingston will play at Plainfield.