WESTFIELD, NJ — After a three-day postponement due to inclement weather, the Westfield boys’ varsity basketball team edged out the Gov. Livingston Highlanders in overtime, 48-44, advancing to the second round of Union County Tournament play on Tuesday.
David Kane led the scoring for Westfield with 15 points.
“We’ve had some issues holding on to leads,” said Westfield head coach Daryl Palmieri. “But our defense stepped up when we needed it.”
In a very low-scoring game from the start, Gov. Livingston received an initial offensive spark from sophomore guard Javon Reis-Wilson, who contributed five of his 11 points in the first quarter to drive the Highlanders to a 9-6 lead
“We had a good game at the beginning,” Reis-Wilson said. “Eventually, though, the team was out- muscled on the boards.”
In the second quarter, Westfield evened things up by playing aggressive defense and exploiting its height advantage. Under the leadership of senior center Chris Wright and Forward David Kane, the Blue Devils propelled themselves to a 23-17 halftime lead.
The game seemed to turn in Westfield’s favor in the third quarter as the Blue Devils stretched their lead to 12 points midway through the quarter, but the Westfield onslaught was quickly met by an offensive outburst from Gov. Livingston’s junior forward Rob Imbalzano, who finished the game with a game-high 16 points.
“Westfield relaxed a little bit as many good teams do, and we were able to play more solid defense in the second half,” explained Governor Livingston head coach Steve Petruzzelli.
For the last quarter, Westfield and GL matched each other basket for basket, ultimately ending regulation at a 42-42 deadlock.
“We were able to guard tougher and keep [Imbalzano] under control,” said Wright with regard to how the Blue Devils were able to temper the Highlanders’ momentum.
Ultimately, it was Westfield’s defensive prowess that decided the contest. Allowing only a single basket in overtime, the physical Westfield team resorted to old-fashioned blocks and rebounds to overcome the Highlanders. With Governor Livingston stymied, Westfield’s junior forward Sean Elliot sealed the victory with a jump shot from 13 feet.
Westfield, now 11-10, will face East Orange on March 4 in the first round of the NJSIAA Boys’ Basketball tournament. Governor Livingston will look to improve its 7-12 record when it travels to Roselle on Thursday.