RAHWAY, NJ – New Providence’s Sarah Zeto has a tendency of playing her best games when the spotlight is biggest. That was no different during Friday’s Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference quarterfinal game against No. 7 Gov. Livingston.
Playing in her first game after missing two with a concussion, Zeto scored leading the second-seeded Lady Pioneers past the Highlanders, 43-23, and into their third straight county semifinal.
“She’s just the ultimate competitor,” New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera said. “She just wants to win and she’ll do whatever she needs to do to make it happen. Whether it's attack the basket, get rebounds, play defense, whatever it is, she wants to win.”
Zeto carried New Providence when they needed it the most. With Gov. Livingston containing junior Katie Kinum, Zeto was there as the Lady Pioneers’ second offensive threat that the Highlanders couldn’t handle.
After trailing by one at the break, New Providence closed the game on a 26-5 run, including six of Zeto’s 14 points, to win by 20.
“Usually when we play GL in any sport it's really close and comes down to the last second,” Zeto said, “So it was kind of nice to have a little bit less stressful second half. They're a really good team too, so we wanted to get it done early.”
The game was not as one sided as the final score suggests. Gov. Livingston held its own in the first half, courtesy of stellar team play in the opening two quarters.
Despite early foul trouble and a limited bench, Gov. Livingston managed to escape the Pioneers defensive pressure and create some of their own.
Trailing by four at the start of the second quarter, Lindsay Gerrato led the Highlanders on a 7-2 run throughout the length of the period to take a one-point lead into the break. Gerrato had a team-high 9 points in the game.
“We competed in the first half,” Gov. Livingston head coach Vin Gulbin said. “It was a great effort from the girls. We just couldn't get it down."
After holding New Providence to just one basket in the second period, the Lady Pioneers returned the favor in the second half, allowing GL just five points for the entire half, all from the free throw line, leading to the 20-point victory.
“We were not running an offense at all in the first half,” Pazdera said. “If we averaged one pass in like six possessions, that was a lot. We talked about running an offense, get better shots and get more people good looks at the basket. We did that in the first couple of possessions and scored. That hit home with the girls a little bit.”
The Lady Pioneers advance to the UCIAC semifinals where they will face No. 3 Cranford on Thursday.