BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders boys’ basketball team defeated the Roselle Rams, 67-63, on Tuesday night. Tuesday’s win was the Highlanders’ (1-1) first of the season while Roselle remains winless at 0-2.
Senior Javon Reis-Wilson was the man of the night as the senior enjoyed perhaps the best game of his career with a game-high 30 points. Fellow seniors Chris Long and Dondre Garcia chipped in with 13 and seven points, respectively. Junior Billy Pencek also chipped in with seven points of his own.
The win was Governor Livingston’s Chris Leoffler’s first as a head coach. The game may have been closer than Loeffler had liked, but he was just happy for the win.
“Our seniors played hard tonight,” Loeffler said. “The kids played with lot of energy, took good shots and hit some big shots.”
Loeffler’s seniors set the tone for the rest of the game shortly after the Rams jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. The duo of Reis-Wilson and Long scored 22 of Governor Livingston’s 23 points in a 23-4 run that spanned the first and second quarters.
Reis-Wilson put on an offensive clinic as the senior guard scored 11 of his team’s first 13 points.
Reis-Wilson showed the ability to score from inside and out. His speed off the dribble kept the Roselle guards on their heels (and in their tracks in some cases) while the Roselle bigs were unable to prevent him from converting in the paint.
Reis-Wilson certainly left a solid impression on his new coach.
“Javon was great tonight from start to finish,” Loeffler said. “You can’t really take him off the floor. He gets to the lane better than anyone.”
As for Long, the lanky senior seemed to be in the right places at the right time throughout the night. Long was a strong presence inside on both ends of the floor. He benefitted from a pair of Reis-Wilson assists early in the second quarter that helped extend the Highlanders’ lead to 13.
Defensively, Long used his length inside to grab key rebounds that led to several fastbreak points for the speedy Highlander guards.
Long had exactly the type of impact his head coach wanted to see.
"Chris played very well tonight,” Loeffler said. “He truly lived up to his last name tonight. He showed his athleticism in being able to get to the rim and finish. And on defense, he was very good for us inside and outside in being able to defend Roselle’s screen-and-rolls.”
After watching Reis-Wilson and Long dominate early, the Rams took control in the second quarter. After falling behind 25-12, the Rams went on a 19-6 run to tie the game at 31 with less than a minute remaining in the half.
The Highlanders would respond with a 6-0 run of their own to end the half and give themselves much needed cushion.
The Highlanders continued their run early in the third quarter thanks to four quick points from Garcia. The Highlanders’ 16-4 run that bridged the second and third quarters gave them a 47-35 lead.
It seemed as if the Highlanders were set to put the game away for good until the Rams turned up the defensive pressure.
The Rams turned to a full-court press combined with heavy on-ball pressure to get back into the game. The Highlanders suddenly had a tougher time executing and the Rams made them pay by going on a 14-5 run to end the quarter and pull to within three points.
The Highlanders may have hit a mini-slump in parts of the second half, but Loeffler was still pleased at their execution in the midst of Roselle’s defensive pressure.
“This was a game of runs,” Loeffler said. “When we stopped hitting our shots, they started hitting theirs. But I always tell our kids to keep doing the little things no matter how tough things get, and they did that tonight. I thought we handled the pressure well. If we would’ve hit a few more lay-ups, this game wouldn’t have been as close.”
The teams continued to trade runs in the fourth quarter. After Pencek hit a three-pointer early in the quarter to give the Highlanders a 55-49 lead, Roselle went on an 11-6 run to pull to within one.
Reis-Wilson and Pencek didn’t fold under pressure as both scored much-needed baskets late in the quarter to give the Highlanders a four-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The GL boys JV basketball team won their second game of the season (2-0) with a 56 -46 win over Roselle with Tyler McCulloch leading the way with 15 points.
The GL boys freshman basketball team is now 2- 0 on season after taking down Roselle 49 -17. Led by 15 points from Dylan Defronzo and 8 points and 6 assists from Josh Coldon.
Up next for the Highlanders will be a Varsity Tournament on Dec. 29 at Morris Knolls High School.