BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston's boys basketball team jumped out to a quick lead against Hillside on Thursday night, thanks to a size advantage for senior forwards Robert Imbalzano and John Iorio.
A three-pointer by Imbalzano gave the Highlanders an 11-3 lead out of the gates, prompting an early Hillside timeout.
Hillside switched to a 2-3 zone to compensate for their disadvantage underneath, but GL countered with two three-pointers by Vinny Polimeni, giving them a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"I wasn't expecting to see a 2-3," said Gov. Livingston coach Steve Petruzzelli, "but Polimeni was huge knocking down those three-pointers to shoot them out of it."
Hillside, led by John Blanc and D'Andre Simpson, fought their way back into the game in the second quarter thanks to a tenacious effort crashing the offensive glass, giving them several second chance opportunities to score, but the Highlanders clung to a four point lead at the half.
"They were taking a lot of long jumpers that resulted in long rebounds, but their guards did a good job of crashing the boards from different angles," said coach Petruzzelli on Hillside's rebounding effort. "We did a much better job of holding them off later in the game."
Hillside was able to tie the game on a three point shot by Jonathan Diplan around the six minute mark of the third quarter, but the game favored GL from that point forward.
Two free throws by Imbalzano put GL back on top for good with three minutes to go in the third, and a three by Jimmy Longo beat the buzzer, giving the Highlanders a 36-28 lead going into the fourth.
Hillside tried to get back into the game with a late full court press, but good ball movement led to a few easy lay ups for the GL forwards, and back to back layups by Iorio and Chis Long expanded the lead to nineteen with under two minutes to play, putting the dagger in Hillside.
"We were prepared for them to pick up full court and we did a great job executing and sharing the ball to beat the press for some easy buckets," commented Petruzzelli, whose team won 54-37.
Imbalzano notched 16 points and Iorio added 10 for the Highlanders, who improved to 5-1 on the season.
Blanc scored 14 points and Simpson tallied 12 for Hillside, who fell to 4-5.
Gov. LIvingston will battle it out against neighboring rivals, New Providence (3-3), at home during Super Saturday, Jan. 10 at 3:45 p.m.