NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The last time the New Providence and Gov. Livingston boys’ basketball teams battled on the hardwood, Jordan Morang had to watch in agony from the Pioneers’ bench.
Morang had a series of stitches above his eye, a battle scar from New Providence’s victory at Jonathan Dayton H.S. the night before Super Saturday.
After chambering all the emotion that comes with the natural rivalry, Morang went off like a stampede on Thursday, leading the Pioneers to a 49-29 victory over the Highlanders at New Providence High School.
“I was thinking about [the game] the whole week,” Morang said. “Not being able to play in the first game at their place is a bummer. Me and Kevin Haggerty [who also missed the previous game due to injury] knew it was our time that we had to show up and play against them. It was definitely fun to get out this time.”
The Pioneers came out firing, opening the game on a 14-2 run through the first quarter. Even though the Highlanders took the lead in the opening minute, New Providence answered right back by scoring the next 10 points.
“14-4, that starts us off good," Morang said. “Our fans were going. Four points in the first quarter, you can’t ask for better than that, especially against them. They’re a good shooting team. They have size. Four points shuts them down. We shut them down. That set the tone and it worked.”
Morang, who led all scorers with 16 points, scored seven of the Pioneers’ 12 second quarter tallies to lead New Providence into the locker room with a 26-13 advantage at halftime.
“That’s just Jordan,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “He’s all over the place. You can always count on him. He does all the dirty work and he can score. Like anybody else on our team, they don’t care who does the job as long as someone does it.”
After halftime, New Providence continued to pound away at the GL defense. Five different players combined to extend the Pioneers lead to 19 points, including two 3-pointers from Bryan Joyce. Meanwhile the New Providence defense held the Highlanders to just two baskets, all in the last four minutes of the quarter.
The Pioneers converted only one basket in the fourth, along with eight free throws, but that was good enough to seal the victory.
“We had a tough time scoring against them last time, but today we were really patient and got a lot of really good shots,” Cattano said. “There weren’t too many bad shots at all.”
Gov. Livingston shooters were all held to less than three baskets each. Nick DiSarno led the Highlanders with six points.
Both teams are back in action on Monday in the first round of the state tournament. No. 16 Gov. Livingston visits No. 1 Newark East Side in the North Jersey 2, Group 3 opener, while No. 4 New Providence hosts No. 13 Weehawken in an 8 p.m. tip-off.