MONTCLAIR, NJ - Livingston's Marc Schofel did what any good shooter from the outside should do after their shot: follow it.
And that mantra that coaches ingrain into basketball players came in handy in the waning seconds on Wednesday.
Schofel dropped the jumper with 2.2 seconds left in the game after his missed shot came back his way to give the Lancers a 39-38 victory over Montclair Kimberley Academy on the road. The victory raised the Lancers lead to 16-3 and was still in first place in the Super Essex Conference Colonial Division. Livingston has three games remaining in the league.
"No (I didn't expect to get a second shot)," said Schofel after the game. "I made sure that I followed up the shot and it came back to me."
Sam Abam led a balanced Livingston attack with nine points while Andrew Vittoria added eight points and Schofel had five.
For Schofel he had not hit a shot all night until hitting a three-pointer with less than two minutes left in the game and it was the first lead for Livingston since early in the first quarter.
In all the Lancers had only three leads for the afternoon in the Super Essex Conference game, but one of them was the most important.
With Livingston down by one, 38-37, head coach David Cohen called timeout to set up the play. "It was going to be a penetration play and kick out to Marc with Sam (Abam) drawing away the players," said Cohen.
Cohen had told his team that he wanted them to be in the game in the fourth quarter. "I told the guys before the game that I just wanted to be close in the fourth quarter," said Cohen.
He knew coming into the game at Montclair Kimberley Academy that the Cougars would be ready after the Lancers had defeated MKA, 55-49, on Jan. 5 in Livingston. "Number one we beat them at our place and knew that they were going to come out firing on all cylinders."
And that was the case for almost the entire game on Wednesday.
The Lancers had shot poorly for most of the game and poor defense in the first half which led to being behind 25-17.
And the Livingston poor shooting continued into the third quarter and the result was that they were staring at a 16-point deficit, 33-17, three minutes into the second half and a 10-point deficit a minute before the end of the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter Livingston chipped away at the MKA lead with a combination of stifling defense, good offensive rebound and Montclair Kimberley's tentative play on offense as the cougars were trying to nurse the lead in the fourth quarter.
"We were really clamping down on defense and getting out to their shooters," said Schofel.
In addition to the defense Livingston was getting several extra chances on offense with the help of Lancers junior Andrew Vittoria hitting the boards. "Vittoria did a tremendous job getting the rebounds," said Schofel.
Livingston would slice the Cougars lead to a single possession with back-to-back buckets from Abam.
Montclair Kimberley’s Kiernan Powell would come back with a pair of free throws to up the Cougars lead to five, 48-33.
As it turned out, those were the only points for Kimberley.
After a Schofel three-pointer and Alex Kalmus hitting one of two free throws, Livingston cut the Cougars lead to one, 38-37, with 50 seconds left.
Livingston boys basketball schedule
(Games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
Feb. 9: Weequahic
Feb. 14: Christ the King, TBA
Feb. 16: Newark Vocational, TBA