LIVINGSTON, NJ- The Livingston Lancers boys’ varsity basketball team was eliminated from the Essex County Tournament in the first round Saturday, falling to the North 13th Street Tech Cougars (5-9).
The 37-24 loss marks the Lancers’ sixth straight defeat and drops them to 5-9 on the year. After starting the season off with a promising 5-3 record the Lancers will most likely have to win their next five games or go deep in the playoffs just to try to get above .500.
The Cougars, who had given up an average of 58.5 points per game entering Saturday’s matchup, held the Lancers to only 24 points, a season-best for the Cougars, and a season-low for the Lancers.
North 13th Street Tech Head Coach Rico Hernandez said their key to their success was
’“To stop their backcourt Princeton style offense,: Hernandez said. “That style of play gets a lot of backdoor easy courts. And, to play the three point line…force them to go down the middle.”
Hernandez saw his game plan come to fruition watching multiple miss shots from the Lancers and inability to drive through the Cougars tough interior defense. Anchored by big-men Kenley Polynice and Navise Kendick North 13th Street Tech refused to allow any easy shots or layups forcing Livingston to shoot under 30 percent from the field.
Livingston Head Coach David Cohen had no solution to his team’s offensive falters.
He said: “We started off cold in the first quarter. We had open looks and are just not converting.”
For the second straight game, Livingston was held to under 30 points, and for the second straight game only two Lancers were able to finish with at least five points- forward Alex Habberman, who had five, and guard Andrew Katzeff, who led the team with seven.
The Cougars, on the other hand, seemed to score with ease. Anthony King led the team with 15 points, and scored in all aspects of the court- draining a three, hitting open jump shots, and converting both of his free throw attempts.
King along with the rest of the Cougars was ecstatic following their round one upset over the Lancers, and ending their seven game losing streak.
“I feel amazing,” King said after the game. “My team had my back the whole game, I couldn’t have [scored 15 points] without them.”
The Lancers led the Cougars by two after center Joey Fischer scored the first points of the game on an open layup. King would then respond with a contested three-pointer to put the Cougars up by one, they would never relinquish their lead.
North 13th Street Tech dominated every aspect of the game, beating Livingston on the boards, forcing the Lancers to turn the ball over, and shooting a higher field goal percentage.
What was at one point only a four point game after the first quarter, with the Cougars leading 11-7, quickly turned into a blowout. The Cougars showed their offensive poise, which have carried them throughout the season, by proceeding to go on a 14-6 run.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Lancers remained in it after an Adam Bellizone triple, but Andrew Vittoria missed a layup and King converted back-to-back buckets to end any chance of a comeback attempt.
Livingston will look to regroup against a poor East Orange team (0-12) Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Lancers defeated the Jaguars in their first meeting back in December 51-39.