Strong Second Half Propels Governor Livingston Girls Basketball Team Past Cranford 42-38

Cat Quinn of Governor Livingston fights for a loose ball against Cranford's Jeanna Goeller and Jess McCoy underneath her basket in the third quarter. Credits: Daniel Eckert
CRANFORD, NJ – Alyssa Polimeni and Rebecca Johnson scored 14 points apiece as the Governor Livingston Lady Highlanders put together a 13-3 run coming out of the halftime gate to mount a comeback over Cranford.  The team won 42-38 on Thursday afternoon at Cranford High School to remain unbeaten at 11-0.
Governor Livingston took a five point lead into the final quarter of play, but Cranford refused to give up in a game that was played tightly throughout. 
Kaitlyn McGovern made two free throws for the home team to tie things up at 32 apiece.  Sam Dowling then made a three pointer for Governor Livingston and then Polimeni later made a layup to give her team a two point lead halfway through the fourth.
However, a few minutes later, McGovern was again fouled and nailed both of her free attempts to once again tie the score at 38-38 with 1:14 remaining.

“We don’t do anything easy. We got the lead in the third quarter and then we didn’t close it like we should have,” Governor Livingston Head Coach Andy Silvagni said. “Cranford’s a very good team, so we’ll take it (the win).”
Johnson stepped up huge in the last minute of the fourth to ice the game and keep Governor Livingston’s undefeated streak intact.  After Polimeni missed a short jumper, she gathered the offensive rebound and put back the layup to put her team back up by two.
After McGovern missed a lay in at the other end, Johnson was fouled with just 15 seconds left. She calmly took her time at the line and nailed both shots to make the score 42-38.
“I was just trying not to get too nervous about it. Free throws are something that we practice a lot. We always know that we can lose or win a game because of free throw. I had to try to not let the pressure get to me,” Johnson said of the shots that iced the game. 
“I had to listen to my teammates because they helped calm me down. We worked really hard so I knew it was important to make them,” she added.
The beginning of the game did not play out like Governor Livingston had envisioned. They turned the ball over an uncharacteristic ten times in the first eight minutes of play and did not get their first shot until the 5:12 mark when Polimeni finally converted. They were down 7-4 after the first quarter.
The second quarter started out fairly slow, but then Governor Livingston began to get their legs under them and started converting on some baskets. Johnson also began to dominate on the offensive glass and scored the last four points of the quarter as her team trailed 16-13 going into halftime.
Although Governor Livingston trailed, the team certainly had some momentum as they got back in the game and seemed poised to start the second half with a bang.
“We talked about at halftime that we knew we had to be really intense and had to come back and work really hard and be physical,” Johnson said.
Coach Silvagni’s halftime message seemed to have paid off as Governor Livingston continued to rebound and scored the first 6 points of the third quarter. Mallory George got her first two points when she put back and offensive rebound and then Polimeni made a layup to give them their first lead of the game at 17-16 with 6:45 left.
After McGovern tied the score, Polimeni made yet another short shot, Dowling nailed her second three ball and then Polimeni converted in transition to give Governor Livingston their biggest lead of the game at 26-19.
“We were questioning a lot of things we were doing. We came out flat for whatever reason. The girls came out strong in the third quarter, so whatever we said I’m glad it set in with them,” Silvagni said.
Governor Livingston may be perfect thus far this season, but Silvagni and Johnson maintain that is something that is not on their minds.
“We try not to think about it too much. We’re off to a good start, but we still have a lot of work to do and we have a long season ahead of us,” Johnson told after the game.
Governor Livingston is back in action tomorrow afternoon when they take on Oak Knoll High School at 7 p.m. in Berkeley Heights.

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