NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Led by three scorers in double figures, the New Providence High girls basketball team started slow but pulled away in the second quarter to earn a 56-28 victory over Gov. Livingston in a battle between the neighboring schools on Monday evening in New Providence.
The Lady Pioneers remained perfect on the season in improving to 10-0. The loss was just the second of the season for Gov. Livingston, which fell to 4-2.
"Gov. Livingston is always a rival, so we know it's going to be a well-played game," said New Providence coach Cap Pazdera. "I wouldn't say we were flat at the start, but we lost focus a bit defensively. We were able to adjust and had a big second quarter."
New Providence led by just four points, 14-10, after the first quarter but used a 16-2 salvo in the second quarter to take control of the contest.
The Lady Pioneers were led by sophomore Meghan Lamanna (16 points, three assists, two rebounds), freshman Grace Kinum (11 points, five steals, four assists) and sophomore Grace Kelly (10 points, six rebounds, one block).
Gov. Livingston was steered by sophomore Caroline Greer, who matched Lamanna with a game-high 16 points.
"Every team knows what they are going to do because they are super quick," said Gov. Livingston head coach Chris Eckert. "But I'm super proud of how they handled the press in the first quarter.
"They are a tough matchup, a well-coached team and our depth is limited somewhat, and we got a little tired in the second quarter."
New Providence also received solid efforts from Amy Maurer (seven points, six assists), Jasmine Miller (three points, two rebounds, two blocks), Grace Henn (three points), Lindsay Kinum (two points, four rebounds, four assists) and Megan Slattery (two points, nine rebounds, two steals).
Almost a year ago to the day, Gov. Livingston dealt New Providence a 42-27 loss in the quarterfinal round of the Union County Tournament on Feb. 21, 2020.
"We've used that game as a reminder that we always have to bring our best game," said Pazdera. "They were the better team that day and are a good solid team. Baskets weren't falling early for us today, but we kept shooting and were able to have a good game."
Gov. Livingston started the season with a two-week delay due to covid quarantine procedures but won its first three games before suffering its first loss to Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Feb. 16.
Against New Providence, the Lady Highlanders were also paced by Reagan Hopeck (four points), Erin Hilongos (four points) and Gianna Ciccimarra (two points).
Freer, who had a season-high 20 points against Scotch Plains, is now averaging a team-high 10.0 points per game.
"Caroline is definitely learning on the job," said Eckert, who is in his fourth season at the helm. "But she is super-coachable and a hard-working player. She has a lot of potential."
Gov. Livingston will remain on the road with games at Rahway on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and Elizabeth on Friday, Feb. 26 both at 4 p.m.
"We love competition and this team works very hard," said Eckert. "We've had some setbacks with covid and the snow, but we make no excuses."
New Providence will look to remain undefeated when it plays host to Westfield on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Union Catholic on Friday at 4 p.m.
"Westfield is a good team that played us close the last time at their place," said Pazdera. "So I know they're chomping at the bit to get another shot at us."