CHATHAM, N.J. – Gov. Livingston girls’ basketball head coach Andy Silvagni knew this season would be a learning process for his inexperienced Highlander squad.

His team learned at least one lesson on Friday: how to handle a loud, exuberant crowd late in a game.

Leading by as many as five points in the fourth quarter, the Highlanders fought back from a one-point deficit in the final two minutes to beat Columbia, 43-37, in the opening round of the Cougar Classic on Friday.

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“It was definitely an intense atmosphere,” GL senior guard Sara Dilly said. “We really stepped up as a team Even when it got a little close, we still kept our heads in the game and kept it going.”

Dilly led the late push of Gov. Livingston. One of the lone returning players who contributed significant minutes to last year’s squad, Dilly scored nine of the Highlanders final 11 points to seal the victory.

“Sara’s a good kid,” Silvagni said. “She works really hard. We’re working on slowing the game down for her; she sometimes goes too fast. In the fourth quarter she made a lot of plays defensively and she made free throws. She put the game away. I’m happy she played well.”

While Dilly was able to score when her team needed it the most, the same couldn’t be said for the whole team. The Highlanders converted on only one basket in the fourth quarter, Dilly’s fast break layup in the final minute that put GL up by three.

While both Silvagni and Dilly were happy the team hit their free throws when it counted, they both think the offense is still a work in progress.

“We were getting some good looks, we just weren’t making shots,” Silvagani said. “Their zone gave us problems. I don’t think it should have given us problems but it did. Its something we’ll work on and get better with.”

The Highlanders are back in action on Saturday when they face Hunterdon Central on Saturday at Chatham High School.