BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - After a deflating loss this past weekend to New Providence, the Governor Livingston Highlanders girls basketball team bounced back with a much-needed 59-50 victory over the Summit Hilltoppers Thursday at home.
With the win, Governor Livingston improved to 8-6 while Summit fell to 4-12.
Lindsay Gerrato’s 24 points paced the Highlanders while Lara Romano did a little bit of everything (14 points, 6 steals, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) for the Highlanders in one of her best games of the season. Skylar Dowling had 13 points and 6 assists in the victory.
The Highlanders were incrementally better on both ends of the floor on Thursday and it was the type of bounceback performance head coach Vin Gulbin wanted to see from his young squad.
“We rebounded the ball well, boxed out well, and our turnovers were down, which caused our field goal percentage to go up,” Gulbin said.
After falling behind 9-4 in the game’s early going, Gerrato (14 first half points) began to make her presence felt down low despite facing her fair share of double teams.
Struggling to contain Gerrato, the Hilltoppers began to put tight pressure on the Highlanders and Gerrato. For the most part, Summit’s plan worked until Romano took the game over both offensively and defensively.
Romano’s two break-away layups late in the first half sparked a run in which the Highlanders opened a 31-18 lead.
But Romano’s bigger impact came on the defensive end where she harassed Summit’s Christine Richson, one of the county’s best players, into tough shots throughout the game.
“Lara did an unbelievable job on Richson,” Gulbin said. “I think she had five or six steals in the first half alone which is telling in itself of her impact defensively. It’s exactly what we needed from her tonight.”
“But overall, we did a good job of switchin on defense and a tremendous job playing man-to-man.”
The Hilltoppers fought back in the second half and pulled to within four late in the third quarter. Much of that had to do with Summit catching the Highlanders a bit off-guard in the second half with their defensive strategy.
“In the second half, they (Summit) were determined to keep us outside,” Gulbin said. “We were able to counter that with an adjustment of our own on offense which was dribble penetration and that helped a lot.”
That second-half dribble penetration was part of a bigger picture in which the Highlanders finally heeded their coaches’ advice on patience.
“We’ve had a tendency to rush a little bit offensively so we (the coaches) have been telling them to be patient, stay together, and move the ball,” Gulbin said. “With five or six passes, we can get what we want offensively and you saw that tonight.”
After Summit pulled to within four late in the fourth quarter, the Highlanders did what they had to do offensively and made the necessary baskets to hold on for the victory.
The Highlanders return to action on Saturday when they’ll face Johnson.