BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders girls’ basketball team suffered a tough 45-42 loss to the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders on Wednesday.
With the loss, Governor Livingston fell to 10-10 while Scotch Plains-Fanwood moved to 11-8.
Junior Lindsay Gerrato paced the Highlanders with 19 points, with 14 coming in the first half, while senior Lindsay DiStaso chipped in with 12 points.
For Governor Livingston head coach Vin Gulbin and his team, it was a tale of two halves.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that featured six lead changes, the Highlanders dominated in the second quarter.
Gerrato’s bucket at the end of the first quarter jumpstarted a Governor Livingston run in which the Highlanders dominated on both ends of the floor.
“We handled Scotch Plains’ defensive pressure very well in the first half,” Gulbin said. “We were able to get some of their key players in early foul trouble which was the gameplan. And getting those players in foul trouble allowed us to build a nice lead.”
The Highlanders 13-2 run that spanned the first and second quarters gave the team a 25-15 lead midway through the second quarter. Gerrato scored nine of the team’s points during the run with most of those points coming near the basket.
The Raiders had no answer for Gerrato in the first half.
“Lindsay was amazing down there tonight,” Gulbin said. “We were able to isolate her down low which is when she put her tremendous post moves to work. And we did such a good job breaking Scotch Plains’ pressure tonight that whoever was on Lindsay had to come off her to help which gave her even more opportunities to score.”
The Raiders defensive pressure may not have worked much in the first half but that wasn’t the case for the Highlanders. The Highlanders put the clamps on the Raiders for much of the second quarter. Before a few Raider baskets late in the quarter, the Highlanders had allowed just two points up until that point.
“We played great defense in the first half,” Gulbin said. “We took charges and we did a good job stopping their penetration. When we play defense like we did in the first half, we can play with anyone.”
Things unfortunately took a turn for the worse in the second half. The Raiders implemented a 2-2-1 zone defense which disrupted the Highlanders flow on offense and made it difficult to get the ball to Gerrato in the paint.
In addition to the 2-2-1, the Raiders forced several turnovers which allowed them to get out and convert in transition.
The Highlanders scored just seven points in the third quarter as the Raiders battled back to reclaim the lead late in the quarter.
“There was a three-minute stretch in that third quarter where we committed six turnovers which turned our eight-point lead into a three-point deficit,” Gulbin said. “Scotch Plains pressured us differently than they did in the first half and we didn’t handle that pressure well.”
After the Raiders built a 41-36 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Highlanders battled back and pulled to within one with 48 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, the Highlanders forced a turnover with 28 seconds remaining and appeared poised to regain the lead.
Gerrato had a good look down low but her turnaround jumper corralled off the rim with 12 seconds remaining.
The Highlanders were forced to foul and Scotch-Plains’ Amani Williams made both free throws to put her team up 45-42 with 11 seconds remaining.
The Highlanders had two chances to tie the game on the ensuing possession but missed both three-point attempts as time expired.
“We did a good job battling back at the end of the game,” Gulbin said. “On that last possession, we did a good job executing the play but give Scotch Plains credit for playing good defense on that possession.”
Next, Gov. Livingston will have a rematch against Scotch Plains at home on Tuesday, Feb. 16 in the first round of the UCIAC Tournament.Tip off at 7 p.m. in the Red Gym.