BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston girls basketball team had a slow start to the 2019-2020 season, but finished strong, landing the Lady Highlanders in the county finals -- a spot the Lady Highlanders hadn't seen since the 2012-13 season.
Going into the Union County Tournament, GL (7th seed) was on a seven game win streak. They easily blew past Hillside (57-39) in the first round behind a 29-point career high performance by senior point guard Skylar Dowling. Next, they crushed neighboring New Providence (3 seed) in the quarterfinals (42-27) and then shocked Union Catholic (2 seed) in a 36-31 victory in the semifinals.
It was Dowling's clutch shooting in the final minutes of the semifinal game against Union Catholic that helped the Lady Highlanders rally for the memorable 36-31 victory. The Highlanders outscored Union Catholic 17-4 in the fourth quarter. Governor Livingston thus earned its first Union County Tournament final berth since 2013 when it completed back-to-back championships.
Dowling hit a 3-point shot to give GL a 30-29 lead with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter. Union Catholic (18-5) took a 31-30 lead with 1:19 left. But Dowling was fouled once more and hit two free throws to restore the Highlanders' lead at 32-31 with 42 seconds left. She hit four more to make it 36-31.
GL lost in the finals against Westfield in the Championship game, however, Dowling has forever made her mark in the "Red Gym" and in Gov. Livingston history, reaching a career 1,442 points.
For her basketball career of accomplishments and her success during the Union County Tournament that led to GL's seat in the UCT finals, Skylar Dowling has been named the Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.
Dowling took time out to answer a few questions in recognition of being named Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.
TAPinto: What was going through your mind when the clock clicked down on your last game as a Lady Highlander?
Skylar: I was getting emotional thinking about not being able to play with my teammates again. Especially Shannon who I have played with since we were in third grade and Paige who I have been playing with since freshman year. While I am going to play in college next year, I am definitely going to miss high school basketball.
TAPinto: You had a very accomplished four years of basketball at Gov. Livingston. When you think about your career, what immediately brings a smile to your face?
Skylar: Definitely my teammates and friends I have made throughout my four years and making it to county finals this year because not many GL girls teams have made it that far.
TAPinto: What would you like to be most remembered for as a 4 year varsity basketball starter?
Skylar: I made varsity all four years playing with almost four very different teams. I hope to be remembered as being a team player each year. I hoped to have made a positive impact on the program and the younger kids who the GL basketball team has helped coach.
TAPinto: Has your coach (Jason Rhine) at Misericordia talked to you about what role he anticipates you filling for next years team?
Skylar: Coach Rhine has told me he is excited for me to come there and I hope to have an impact early on in my college career.
TAPinto: Will you be working on any specific aspects of the game in the off season?
Skylar: I will be doing a lot of strength and conditioning in the off-season because college is a different pace than high school. I will also be working on getting my shot percentage up.
TAPinto: You played both basketball and lacrosse at Gov. Livingston, any thoughts of doing that at Misericordia?
Skylar: While I would love to play both in college, it is pretty hard to do that because the seasons overlap.
TAPinto: You have been around Gov. Livingston girls basketball since the 2nd grade, what is your best advice for a young player starting out ?
Skylar: My best advice is to have fun no matter what and you have to work hard to achieve your goals.
TAPinto: Who is your role model and why?
Skylar: My role models are both of my sisters. Sam played basketball in college and steph played lacrosse in college. They both were successful throughout their whole athletic careers and I hope to follow in their footsteps and be as successful as they were.
TAPinto: What will you be studying in college?
Skylar: I have been admitted into the 6-year DPT(doctorate of physical therapy) program.
TAPinto: Dream job after completing your studies?
Skylar: I hope to become a physical therapist and later on coach basketball and lacrosse.
Valairco Heating & Cooling is the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week. Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.
Valairco Heating & Cooling is celebrating 50 years in business. They are family owned and operated and know that keeping your HVAC systems running smoothly is important to the comfort of our customers, their families, and their guests. That is why their family is dedicated to taking care of yours, no matter what the issue may be. Using only top-quality parts to perform a higher-standard of service and all their services are backed by their 50 years of professional experience and 5-year comprehensive warranties. This means that when you call our team at Valairco, you benefit from their total commitment to your complete satisfaction.