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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence High boys basketball team had to work overtime on Tuesday night - five of them, in fact - but the Pioneers finally outlasted neighboring rival Gov. Livingston, 82-77, before a raucous home crowd in New Providence.
The victory clinched the Sky Division of the Union County Conference for New Providence (22-3), which finished with a perfect 8-0 record. Gov. Livingston (14-7) ended up in second place in divisional play with a 6-2 mark.
The Pioneers were led by junior guard Sean Dillon, who scored a career-high 36 points - including 34 after the break. Dillon, who also had five assists and three rebounds, was 6-for-12 from 3-point range.
The game also saw senior Brian Kelly total, 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Kelly also entered the school record books when he scored his 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter.
Kelly joins seniors Dylan Bedder and Greg Meyers, who each reached the milestone earlier this winter. Meyers topped the 1,000 point plateau on Jan. 17 while Bedder achieved the feat on Feb. 9.
Bedder added five points and 10 rebounds while Richie Wawzycki totaled 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals and Meyers added five points, four rebounds and two steals.
Gov. Livingston was paced by Matt Faller, who had a team-high 27 points and Ryan Davey, who added 19 points. Dylan Defronzo added 12 points and Josh Colden chipped in with 8.
The Highlanders held a 32-25 lead at halftime before New Providence used a 19-10 showing in the third period to take a 44-42 advantage into the fourth. Gov. Livingston then outscored its rival, 14-12, in the final period to send the game to overtime.
The two squads battled and played even through extra sessions before New Providence prevailed, 7-2, in the fifth overtime. Meyers scored the final points by making two free throws.
New Providence will have a chance to match the school record for wins in a season - set last year - when it plays at Caldwell on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
Prior to the tip-off, Jim Madden was honored with the Bo Cattano Award in recognition for his impact to children, and support of programs for education and athletics.
The boys game was the second of two on Tuesday as the entire evening was a fundraiser for the fifth annual "Spread the Word to End the Word" benefit. A portion of the proceeds of the evening benefits Shining Stars Network.
"Its pretty cool to have the games on the same night in the same building and its for a great cause," said New Providence girls basketball coach Cap Pazdera. "Its a little crazy with teams playing in adjacent gyms but its a good community event and we had a great turnout."
In the opening game of the double-header, the Lady Pioneers posted a 34-30 victory over Gov. Livingston.
New Providence was led by Olivia Faucher, who totaled 11 points and six rebounds. Kaitlyn Cumiskey added eight points, Amy Maurer had four points, six rebounds and two assists, Cassandra Barth added three points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal and Alyssa Nook had four points and three rebounds.
"Its always a battle with G.L. and you can just throw the records out," said Pazdera. "We traded punches with them and made the plays we had to make. We had a chance up eight or nine points to put it away but missed some shots and they battled back and got within a few.
"We made some shots down the stretch though and closed it out."
New Providence improved to 14-8 with the win while Gov. Livingston fell to 16-7.
New Providence led, 17-12, at the half and took a 25-23 lead into the fourth quarter before closing with a 9-7 final period.
Gov. Livingston, which had defeated New Providence, 38-34, in overtime on Jan. 5 in Berkeley Heights, was led by Skylar Dowling and Paige Phillips, who each had nine points and Fiona Kerr, who dropped in eight points.
New Providence will now play host to Linden on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. and Summit on Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 a.m.
"We just wanted to compete and get some momentum heading into the state tournament next week," Pazdera said.
TAPinto New Providence will have further coverage of the Bo Cattano Award Ceremony and "Spread the Word to End the Word" Benefit.