RAHWAY, NJ - It was the tale of two halves at Rahway High School on Saturday. In the first half, Governor Livingston controlled the tempo of the game and saw themselves within three points of Rahway at halftime. But in the second half, the Indians took over, beating the Highlanders 54-42.
Jevon Allen led the charge for Rahway, scoring 19 points, including 13 in the second half, but it was the play of the bench that paced the Indians attack.
Led by Khalif Williams, Matt Gregory and Nate Young, the Rahway reserves jumpstarted the Indians in the second half. While Young had just two points in the game, Gregory three, and Williams zero, the emotion they played with sparked everyone.
"We all pulled it together," Allen said. "The whole bench brought it to the game. Its basically because of the bench that we won."
Rahway Head Coach Kevin Conroy said the energy wasn't with the starters in the first half. He hoped by using the bench in the final quarters, the rest of the team would get a spark.
"I thought we played with zero emotion in the first half," he said. "In the second half, we had some bench guys come off the neck and really get us first up, which I thought was really good. Khalif Williams, Matt Gregory, Nate Young…the energy level picked up. That was what was lacking."
It was only a three point game after the first 16 minutes. At the start of the third quarter, it appeared that the Highlanders were going to maintain control of the game. Governor Livingston opened the second half with a mini 6-0 run led by Robert Imbalzano's "and-one" conversion.
After the Highlanders took the 23-20 lead with 5:48 to play in the third period, Rahway stormed back with a 10-2 run to regain control. Allen scored the first six points of the streak to take a 30-25 lead.
"[Allen] has a lot of talent," Conroy said. "Sometimes he doesn't do the smartest things out there, but I thought today after the first half where he had some good success in the beginning, he sort of relaxed a little bit. When the guys came off the bench he stayed out there with them and his energy level increased."
The Indians extended their advantage to eight when Allen scored off a turnover in the final seconds of the third.
Then in the fourth, the Indians led by as many as 16, when Jeremy Mendez hit his second 3-pointer of the final quarter.
The Highlanders never came close after that. Governor Livingston fought back to make it a 10-point game in the final minute, but Allen put an exclamation point on the game with a dunk to seal the Indians win.
"We really didn't want to lose," Allen said. "It was a pretty big game. We need a good seed in the state. When they brought out a run, we came back with something a little bit harder."
Governor Livingston Head Coach Steve Petruzzelli could not be reached for comment following the game.