MADISON, NJ - The Gov. Livingston girls basketball team staged a furious fourth quarter rally, and then hung on to defeat the Linden Lady Tigers 48-44, in the championship game of the Lady Dodger Holiday Tournament yesterday in Madison.
Leading the fourth quarter charge for Gov. Livingston were tournament MVP, senior Lindsay Gerrato, and freshman point guard Skylar Dowling, who were both named to the All-Tournament team. Gerrato scored 8 of her 15 points and Dowling 7 of her career high 22 in the fourth quarter, spurring the come from behind victory. The Lady Highlanders playing in the two game holiday tournament for the first time, easily handled Whippany Park, 50-29, in the first round before their hard fought win in the championship game.
The championship game between the two Union County schools opened up with Dowling, Gerrato and Lara Romano hitting jumpers only to be matched by three inside hoops by Linden's big front court. With 2:25 left in the first quarter and the Lady Highlanders trailing by a basket at 8-6, Dowling then took over and scored seven consecutive points to push Gov. Livingston into a 13-9 lead at quarter's end. Freshman Dowling (11 ppg) finished the quarter with 9 points, and has quickly emerged as the Lady Highlanders' best three point shooter and a solid complimentary scorer to Gerrato's (16 ppg) inside game.
Sign Up for E-News
The second quarter brought on some sloppy play, and, unfortunately for the Lady Highlanders, Gerrato was regulated to the bench due to foul trouble. Senior Romano (8 ppg) scored a hoop and a foul shot which helped stem a Linden run, as the Lady Tigers exerted themselves under the basket with center Gerrato on the bench. A Dowling three brought the Highlanders back to even as the half ended with the game tied at 19.
The second half started out well for Gov. Livingston with Dowling nailing another three for a 22-19 lead, but Linden quickly took advantage of some poor play by Gov. Livingston and raced out to a 31-23 lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. The Lady Highlanders managed to close to within five at 34-29 as the quarter ended behind back to back Gerrato baskets and an Ally McGlynn layup.
As the final quarter began, Linden was again able to push their lead to seven before senior captains Gerrato and Romano, along with Dowling, mounted the big Gov. Livingston comeback. Coach Gulbin aided the rally when he chose to turn up the defensive pressure on the Lady Tigers. Dowling's fourth three ball, followed a Romano putback and the game was tied at 36. With the pressure defense clicking, Ally McGlynn broke free off a turnover and scored on a layup to give her team the lead at 40-39 with 3:12 left in the game.
The last three minutes of the game saw Gov. Livingston open up a seven point spread, only to see their lead dwindle to two with Linden holding the ball with a chance to tie or win with 15 seconds left on the clock. In between big plays from both teams had the crowd roaring. Dowling drew consecutive offensive charges on Linden possessions, with the second call drawing a technical foul on the Linden coach. Clutch foul shooting down the stretch from Gerrato (5-6) and Dowling (4-5) allowed the Lady Highlanders to maintain their slim lead.
However the game was not decided until the Lady Highlanders made two huge defensive plays with just 15 seconds left and GL clinging to a 46-44 lead. First, Fiona Kerr jumped the passing lane as Linden was advancing the ball to the frontcourt and forced a jump ball as she wrestled with her opponent for possession of the ball. The ball was awarded to Linden on the possession arrow with 7.3 seconds remaining. The Linden bid to get off a tying or winning shot was squashed when the Gov. Livingston team defense forced a bad inbound pass resulting in a back court violation. Dowling then ended the game by hitting a pair of free throws for the game's final points.
The Lady Highlanders enter the New Year with a 4-1 record. The team will be facing a tough week ahead when they meet two of the best teams in Union County. First up is the states 8th ranked team, the Patrick School on Tuesday (4 p.m.), followed by a 4-1 veteran New Providence team on Saturday (1:30 p.m.). Both games will be played in Berkeley Heights. Saturday's game against New Providence will be played on Governor Livingston's annual Super Saturday before a sold out crowd. It is advised to buy a ticket early to this game if planning to attend.