Gov. Livingston Falls in Final of the Butch Koval Tournament to Rahway 56-43

Credits: John Haddad -- Archive Photo

RAHWAY, NJ - The  Rahway Indians, led by tournament standout Keyshawn Cummings blew past the Gov. Livingston Highlanders 56-43 in the final of the Butch Koval Tournament Friday night in Rahway. Cummings who scored 49 points in the two game tourney led the Indians over the Highlanders for the second time this season as Rahway remained perfect on the season at 5-0. Matt Faller who had back to to back 14 point games to pace the Highlanders, whose season mark now stands at  2-2.  The regular season will resume on Tuesday when the Highlanders travel to Plainfield to take on the Koinoina Academy in a Union County matchup.

Gov. Livingston facing conference foe Rahway for the second time in 10 days kept pace with the high scoring host team as Matt Schuman (10 pts) scored six points to match Cummings six points early in the contest. After the Indians had opened up an 8 point lead, the Highlanders stormed back to take a  16-14 lead on a Faller 3 pointer. Rahway then held for the last shot of the quarter and Elijah Peele put his team back in front  as he drained a three as the quarter ended with the Indians holding a 17-16 lead.

Gov. Livingston opened the second quarter with Faller finding a back door cutting Evan Reiner for a quick hoop putting the Highlanders back up a point. However, that would be the last time  Gov. Livingston would be on top as Rahway's Zion Pendleton (12 pts) and Nicolas Galette (19 pts) joined Cummings in picking apart the Gov. Livingston defense over the next two quarters of play. Things began to quickly unravel for Gov. Livingston with just a 1:29 left in the half and trailing by only six points. Rather than trying to slow things and manage the clock over the remainder of the quarter, the Highlanders took three ill-advised shots  and were fortunate that the Indians only upped their lead to 31-22 as the half ended.

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Rahway's veteran coach Jeff Lubretski gave his team a "spirited halftime pep talk” challenging his team to seize on the momentum they garnered at the end of the first half.  Gov. Livingston scored the first bucket of the second half but Lubretski’s message obviously got through to the Indians as they scored the games next 12 points and the rout was on. Faller connected on a foul line jumper to stem the tide but the Indians would cap their 17 point third quarter with a Cummings' 3 as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter. Rahway had now outscored Gov. Livingston  31 -12 in the middle of the game  and cruised in the fourth quarter to secure the holiday tournament championship.

Gov. Livingston tournament highlights included taking out a very well coached disciplined Holmdel team in overtime to get to the championship round. Holmdel went on to surprise a very good Johnson team in the consolation game, handing the Crusaders a 53-50 loss. Offensively  Schuman and Faller scored in  double digits in both games . Reiner and Josh Coldon were active defenders at the top of the Highlander zone both giving the team a boost off the bench by turning steals into instant offense. Gov. Livingston coach Chris Loeffler was also able to go to his bench and extend his rotation with senior guard Jackson Dultz and junior forwards Jake Pencek and Jake Faulkner seeing meaningful court time for the first time this year.

This upcoming week, Gov. Livingston will be back on the court against the two smallest schools in Union County. On Tuesday, the Highlanders will be on the road at Koinoina (1-3) and then return home for a non conference game against Brearley (1-3) on Thursday. However the biggest game of the week will be on Super Saturday when a very explosive New Providence team comes in to take on the Highlanders. The Pioneers lost their season opener in a close road game to Johnson, but have since reeled off  four straight wins. One of those victories was a 54-44 win against a very strong Chatham team in this past week's Cougar Classic. New Providence is averaging close to 70 points a game, going for a season high 86 against Mount Olive. Leading the Pioneers is big man Dylan Bedder, who is averaging a double double this season at 18.8 ppg. and 13.6 rebounds. Bedder is getting plenty of help from fellow juniors Greg Meyers (11.8 ppg) and Brian Kelly (11.2 ppg) . Also sophomore point Sean Dillion, who was a starter as a freshman before being injured last year, has come back strong scoring 9.2 ppg and leading the team in assists (26) and three pointers made (9).

The annual Governor Livingston Booster Club Super Saturday varsity boys basketball game against New Providence will tipoff at 3:30 p.m. One would be advised to get tickets early in the week as the game is a sell out every year.

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