LIVINGSTON, NJ - It had been over a month since the Livingston girls' varsity basketball team last had a wining record, but by early Monday evening Lancers passed the .500 mark with a 46-29 win over the Academy of St. Elizabeth Panthers (7-11).
Behind a decisive Lancer surge, Livingston scored 23 unanswered points to extend a 14-11 second quarter lead, to a 26 point third quarter 37-11 cushion.
For the second consecutive game, junior Catherine Callaghan led the Lancers in points. Callaghan, who finished with 15, dominated the Panthers’ in the post, missing only two of her nine shots from the field.
Following her dominating performance, Callaghan refrained from stating she was the team’s premier scorer, but rather the one who has the hot hand as of now.
“I can’t really say that I’m the [best scorer],” Callaghan said. “I guess I’m just on the top of my 'A' game.”
The junior star certainly brought her top game Monday night, scoring eight of her 15 points in the second quarter, in which the Lancers outscored the Panthers 15-2 in the final eight minutes heading into halftime.
The Lancers’ second quarter run turned what started off as a closely competitive game into a one-sided romp. The Panthers, although they never attained the ead, tied Livingston three times in the first quarter, and trailed by only three after the game’s opening eight minutes.
Center Sierra Armstrong, who scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter, single-handedly kept her team within striking distance of the Lancers early on but was suffocated, along with her teammates, by the Lancers’ full-court press in the second and third quarters.
After Armstrong bullied her way inside, Livingston head coach Patty Kaes decided to switch to the more aggressive defensive assignment in an attempt to cause more turnovers. The move resulted in the Lancers finishing with 14 steals, countless deflected passes, and overall havoc for the Panthers’ offense.
Point guard Katie Horiuchi, who finished with an all-around stat line of eight points, four rebounds, four steals, and three assists credited her team’s execution of the press as the main reason for their strong defensive output.
“Our press was the key to their turnovers,” Horiuchi said. “Our full court defense really kicked in, and just as a team we came together and made it happen.”
The Lancers wanted to make it happen for senior and co-captain Alayna Liska, who had played her final game in the green and white. Liska, who is leaving for Italy on an Italian foreign exchange student program, will miss the remainder of the season.
“It sucks,” Liska said. “But it was fun, it was fun while it lasted.”
Liska, who finished with two points and an assist, helped keep the Panthers at bay in the final quarter while Kaes chose to give her rotational players an increase in minutes.
The Lancers will have to look elsewhere for senior leadership when they face Newark Academy (17-2) on Tuesday.
Although the Athletics defeated Livingston the first time around 35-28, the Lancers still remain confident they can pull off the upset.
“I think [Newark Academy] is a strong team, but there’s nothing that we as a team can’t do against them,” Horiuchi said.