ROSELLE, NJ - Senior leadership has been the key to the Governor Livingston girls' basketball team's success this year. Backed by a combined 47 points from their seniors, the Highlanders blasted Hillside, 66-52, in Thursday's Union County Tournament quarterfinal at Roselle Catholic High School.
"I thought we played really well as a team together," senior center Erin Ferguson said. "We were looking for the open man. We had a game plan going in and we executed. That was the difference."
Ferguson led Governor Livingston with 21 points, while fellow seniors Mallory George and Alyssa Cranston put up 18 and 8, accounting for all but 18 of their team's points.
"Erin [Ferguson] and Mal [George] and Cranny [Alyssa Cranston], they're seniors that have been in the wars," Governor Livingston head coach Andy Silvagni said. "They've been playing big games for years, so we expect it from them."
Ferguson started the game off on a roll, scoring the first seven points of the game, all in a span of two minutes.
"I didn't even know Erin had the first seven," Silvagni said. "We expect that out of her. That's what she did, and she played well."
George followed with the next eight points, giving the Highlanders a 15-5 lead. Hillside's Afeni Richardson knocked down three-in-a-row before the first quarter came to a close with GL up 17-11.
After Jasmine Lombard pulled Hillside within three on a layup, Governor Livingston's Patrice Ditomasso hit three consecutive 3-pointers leading the Highlanders to a 38-20 halftime lead.
"Patrice is a heck of a shooter," Silvagni said. "She went in, she made a shot and then we started calling some plays for her and she started making more shots. She really gave us a good lift off the bench."
After the break, Hillside never came within 14 points. Ditomasso hit a fourth 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run to put the Highlanders up 20 in the third.
Following a pair of fast break layups from Richardson cut the lead to 18 to separate times, Ferguson converted on an "old-fashioned" 3-point play, putting the game out of reach, 61-40, with five minutes to play in regulation.
"Its this time of the year," Silvagni said. "Anytime you can get a win in the county tournament you're happy. There are four teams left and we;re one of them. We're happy to be moving on."
The Highlanders will now face Cranford in Monday's Union County Tournament semi-final, marking the senior class's third appearance in Union's "Final Four."
"I'm extremely excited to get back there," Ferguson said. "I want to see what we can do as a team. We have a lot of potential so lets hope for the best."
The site of tip-off time for the game have not been determined as of press time.