Sports

Point Man Billy Pencek Named Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week

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Credits: Ava Reiner
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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Governor Livingston's senior point guard Billy Pencek has been named the Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week for his leadership and outstanding play on the hardwood this past week. Pencek opened the week with a 25 point effort in a tough 68-67 road loss to conference foe Cranford. He then scored 19 points while skillfully directing the Highlander offense in Gov. Livingston's 61-52 big home victory over arch rival New Providence. This past week's production bumps his season scoring average up to 17.2 points per game. He has hit for double figures in 10 of the Highlanders 11 games, and his 25 points against Cranford marked the third time this season that he has topped 25 or more points in a game.

"Billy's leadership both vocally and what he demonstrates on the court has been a huge part of the team's tough play this year," said head coach Chris Loeffler. "He's more confident in his own abilities right now, which enables him to help the less experienced players develop and gain more confidence in themselves." 

Pencek's senior leadership was on full display against New Providence when the Highlander captain confidently led his team onto the floor before a packed Super Sunday (usually Super Saturday) crowd. On the Highlanders first possession, Pencek standing directly in front of the Pioneer bench and the hostile visitor's student section calmly knocked down a three pointer to open the games scoring. He then followed with another 3 ball, sparking the Highlanders out to a 13-0 lead. However, unfazed by their early deficit the feisty Pioneers answered with a run of their own to take a 31-30 lead as the first half ended. As the second half began Pencek once again got his team going. With Pencek scoring 9 of Gov. Livingston's 17 third quarter points the Highlanders surged back into the lead and never trailed again.

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Super Saturday is always an electrifying moment for the players --  checking their records at the door to put on a show for their "college arena" fan base. "The fans were really the 6th man because they gave us the extra fire we needed to overcome our rival New Providence," said Pencek.

After dropping several close match-ups, Pencek feels a big weight lifted with the recent streak of victories. "It felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders because we finally came out of our slump of not closing out games," said Pencek. "We played hard for all 32 minutes and we are ready for what ever comes next."

The slump has indeed been lifted as GL continues their winning ways -- most recently behind Pencek's 8 three pointers in his 29 point effort against Roselle. This victory marked a three game win streak as the Highlanders edge closer to the .500 mark.

Below are comments from Billy regarding his past, present and future:

TAPinto: What is the biggest difference in your game between this year and last year? 

Billy: This year I have more of an important role both as a point guard and a captain. It's my responsibility to get the team flowing in the right direction compared to last year coming off the bench as a role player.

TAPinto: What is the most challenging responsibility that Coach Loeffler has given you this year? 

Billy: The most challenging responsibility Coach Loeffler gave me this year was making me one of the captains of the team. He told both Chaz and I what type of responsibility that comes with the title and how it relates to leading by example.

TAPinto: What personal and team goals did you set for this season?  

Billy: My personal goals for the season are to increase my assists and 3 point percentage.  My team goal was to beat New Providence on Super Saturday and advance in the State Sectional tournament.

TAPinto: Who has had the largest impact on you as an athlete?  

Billy: I would say my dad because he has coached me as far back as the fourth grade. He has always told me to work hard on my game and don't leave anything on the court. I've played basketball 12 months out of the year for as long as I can remember once I told him this was the only sport I wanted to pursue 

TAPinto: Do you have a special pregame routine and what is your favorite thing to listen to before a game ? 

Billy: My pregame routine is to warmup my handle with a two ball dribbling drills and get up as many jump shots as possible.  I usually listen to music that gets my blood pumping and puts me in the right mind frame for a game.

TAPinto: What do you like the most about GL? 

Billy: My favorite thing about GL would be the connection all the grades have -- it feels like Home . I've made some good friends with the kids from Mountainside as well.

TAPinto: If you could change anything about GL what would it be? 

Billy: It would be to schedule more home games on Friday nights which typically gets a larger student turnout. 

TAPinto: Favorite subject or teacher the past four years?

Billy: I have two favorite teachers who have made a big impact on me during these last four years have been Mrs. Richards and Mr. Shea.  

TAPinto: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? 

Billy: My favorite thing to do is to hang out with my friends as well as to play pickup basketball games at Lifetime.

TAPinto: If you could be a professional athlete what sport would you play and who would you play for?

 Billy: I would play basketball for the Brooklyn Nets.

TAPinto: If you could attend any sporting event what would you chose? 

Billy: The Final Four March Madness.

TAPinto: Do you have any college plans and what do you want to study? 

Billy: Yes, I plan on attending college in the fall to major in business.

TAPinto: Any plans to play hoops in college? 

Billy: I'm thinking about it but I will see how I feel in a month or so.

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Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!

Delicious Heights is located at 428 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 908.464.3287; 285 Main Street in Bedminster. 908.234.1596; 185 Madisonville Road in Basking Ridge. 908.766.9499.

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