February 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM
UNION, N.J. - The Governor Livingston girls' varsity basketball are champions once again, beating Oak Knoll in the Union County Tournament final on Sunday at Kean University's Harwood Arena.
Senior Erin Ferguson scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Highlanders to their second straight county championship.
""It feels unbelievable," Ferguson said. "A lot of people doubted us. We definitely thought we could get back here. This was out goal. We accomplished our goal. This is where we wanted to be and we got it done."
The victory continued Governor Livingston's dominance of the Union County girls' basketball league. This was the Highlanders third trip to the tournament finale in the last four years.
Governor Livingston head coach Andy Silvagni was speechless following his team's championship performance.
"The whole game was scary," Silvagni said. "I felt like the way we went about it was different than we usually go about it. We still the job done, so we're happy."
Despite her final numbers, the Highlanders played extended minutes without their star senior, as Ferguson got into early foul trouble. That didn't effect the outcome of the opening half as Governor Livingston managed to keep the game tied at 24 going into halftime.
Senior Mallory George picked up the pieces as she had eight points in the first 16 minutes.
In the second half, the Highlanders picked their game up defensively, holding Oak Knoll to only four points, including one basket and two free-throws. On the other side of the ball, GL put up 12 points, with Ferguson adding five tallies.
Ahead by eight in the fourth quarter, Patrice DiTommaso extended the lead to 10 with a pull-up basket, however Oak Knoll responded with a 7-0 run to get within three.
Governor Livingston answered quickly when senior Alyssa Cranston connected with Ferguson on deep inbounds, where Ferguson caught and shot the ball in the same motion, drawing the foul while hitting the layup.
The play, which Ferguson said is very simple but almost unstoppable, has been a go-to inbounds routine for the Highlanders this year.
"[Ferguson's] just tall," Silvagni said. "[Alyssa Cranston] Cranny is a good passer, she gets it to her. [Ferguson] is a real good finisher. We work those things and they pay off."
After sinking the free throw to go up six, Oak Knoll was never able to get within six points of the Highlanders for the rest of the game, leading Governor Livingston to the win.
"This is our goal and for us to achieve it thats great," Silvagni said. "I'm tired. The girls did great. Our coaches did great. I'm speechless right now. The girls did a great job."
Governor Livingston will now being preparing for their first round state tournament game against Plainfield on Tuesday. While the Highlanders swept the Cardinals in two games this season, Plainfield has caused Governor Livingston some trouble, losing the first game by only two points.
"Tomorrow its back to work," Cranston said. "We're going to enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow at practice we're going to get back to work and we're going to prepare for Plainfield. They have two unbelievable players and they're probably the best No. 16 seed that anyone has ever seen."
Tuesday's tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Governor Livingston High School's Red Gym.