BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston girls basketball team hosted New Providence at its annual Super Saturday, ultimately sealing an unexpected victory after trailing by 12 points at halftime.
Hayley Berliner led the team with 11 of the Highlanders' 31 points, securing the final free throw to win the game.
New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera reflected on the play quality: "We played scared, we played like we didn't want to win. We played not to lose and didn't make shots when it counted."
Although New Providence lost their impressive lead in the second half, sophomore Sydney Morang shone with 18 points in the game. The game began when she sank a 3-pointer to spur the Pioneers' offensive momentum in the first quarter.
Gov. Livingston struggled with early foul trouble, especially senior Patrice DiTommaso. Coach Silvagni of Gov. Livingston remarked after the game that the girls are learning how to play and improve their game when they enter increased foul trouble.
New Providence defense in the first quarter was tight, preventing the Lady Highlanders from finding gaps to the basket. Junior Sara Dilly was fouled later in the first quarter to secure the first point for GL.
Jenny Pires and Sara Dilly had critical rebounds that helped Gov. Livingston maintain hold of the ball.
The Pioneers led, 20-8, at the half. The packed, loud gym shook up many of the players and contributed high pressure that affected the girls' play, in both good ways and bad.
The third quarter began with Gov. Livingston stepping up and moving the ball nicely from player to player. DiTomasso hit an early outside shot from the key to begin the second half.
Lauryn DiStaso persistently fought for each and every rebound on defense, although the Highlanders could not capitalize on offense and score.
GL continued to fight hard for each possession, which led to their conversion to a full-court press. This contributed to more fouls on Morang, who scored seven of her 18 points from the free throw line.
The Highlanders had to develop a method to slow down Morang. Dilly commented on the sophomore's standout play: "Sydney is a great, great player, real tough girl to guard. We changed up our defense to face-guard her a little more to try to limit her shot selection."
Gov. Livingston forced several New Providence turnovers in the fourth quarter. A time-out was called with four minutes to go- the energy the girls had was overwhelming and frenzied.
New Providence began to miss its shots, which could have been critical, and the Lady Highlanders dominated ball movement and passing. Patrice DiTommaso was soon fouled with a missed lay-up, and sunk her first shot to tie the game.
New Providence called a time out with four minutes to go, but nevertheless DiTommaso made the second free throw to go ahead in the game for the first time--30-29, Highlanders.
The anxiety mounted in the last minute. Berliner sank her shot after being fouled by New Providence's Katie Kinnum, giving GL a 31-29 lead.
The last scoring play in the fourth consisted of Morang making her first foul shot, New Providence now trailing by one point, 31-30, Highlanders. She missed the tying foul shot, and the Gov. Livingston was victorious in a miracle of a game.
"Super Saturday is great," Silvagni pronounced after the Highlander victory, "It's always exciting and a packed house."
The Lady Highlanders face Cranford this Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m., home at Gov. Livingston.
The Pioneers will play Roselle Catholic home this Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.
GL: Hayley Berliner (11); Sara Dilly (9); Patrice DiTommaso (4); Courtney Osieja (3); Lauren Soranno (3); Katie Reilly (1).
NP: Sydney Morang (18); Katie Kinum (7); Natalie Barrett (3); Casey Trezza (2).