SUMMIT, N.J. - The New Providence girls' basketball team finally shook off a stingy Livingston team in the first round of the Hilltopper Holiday Hoopla Tournament on Wednesday.
The Lancers showed that they are much improved by giving the Pioneers some fits through most of the game only to have New Providence pull away for good late in the third quarter at Summit High School.
The Pioneers stayed perfect on the season at 5-0 with a 55-35 victory in the opening round of the tournament. New Providence will play Summit on Friday at 5:30 p.m. for the title. Livingston dropped to 1-2 on the season.
Livingston actually led in the early going, 6-4, giving New Providence a good go in the first half and was only down by five, 22-17, late in the second quarter.
It was the duo of seniors Cassandra Squeri and Kaycee de Voogd, along with freshman Sydney Morang, that gave New Providence the offense they needed. Squeri led the scoring with a game-high 19 points while Morang added 18 and de Voogd added a dozen points.
But it was the defense that was the talk at halftime for New Providence.
"He (New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera) said that we came out a little dead," said de Voogd after the game and Squeri added. "He said that we have to pick up our intensity."
While Squeri and de Voogd lead the players who are back this season, one of the main new ingredients is Morang.
"I mean she is so great on and off the court," de Voogd, who is in her second year at New Providence after transferring from J.P. Stevens High School in Edison, said.
The Pioneers full-court or three-quarter press defense did the trick as they limited the Lancers top scorer Katie Horiuchi to five points in the second half after scoring seven points in the first half.
"She's pretty good and we knew that we had to look out for her," Squeri said about the Lancers junior guard who finished with 12 points.
Catherine Callaghan added 10 points for the Livingston cause.
After Livingston sliced the New Providence lead to 22-17, the Pioneers scored the last five points in the first half as Squeri scored one-of-two free throws with no time on the clock.
In the second half Lancers Sam Rothenberger made one of two free throws to cut the New Providence lead to seven, 27-20.
But the Pioneers started to pull away going on a 10-3 run as Squeri put another two points on the board to give New Providence a 37-23 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Morang pretty much put the game away with a three-point play with five minutes remaining in the game and a 43-27 Lady Pioneers lead.