CLARK, N.J.-  Johnson sophomore George Visconti and senior Mitch Becker each scored a third of the total game points, as they helped the Crusaders hold off the Governor Livingston Highlanders Monday afternoon in Clark. The final score was 60-51.

Visconti had 21 points, while Becker had 20 points, including three-point baskets that proved to be key to the outcome of the game.  Senior Sean Kovatch also contributed nine points to the win.

Visconti had this to say, “In the first half, we simply didn’t bring enough energy.  In the second half, we came out with energy, we started playing hard, we rebounded.  We did all the little things we were supposed to do. When we do that, it enables us to hold off opponents as we did in this game.”

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After a halftime tie at 19, the teams shared a back and forth contest of successful baskets throughout most of the third quarter.   Sophomore Joe Di Profio beat the third quarter buzzer with a layup to give Johnson a 36-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

Early in the fourth quarter Johnson went on a 7-0 run to build a lead of 43-34.

“Staying together as a team is important. We’re not going to accomplish anything as a bunch of individuals,” Becker said. “It’s always a team effort. If we stick together, we’ll advance far in the state tournament.”

The Highlanders struggled at points of the second half, despite briefly rallying. They fell behind by as much as 48-39 with 3:02 left, and weren’t able to knock down the critical shots as the Crusaders continued to hold them off.

The Highlanders remained diligent in the final minutes, cutting their deficit down to five points with approximately two minutes left in the game.   The Crusaders prevailed and pulled away to secure the win.

 “When it got close at the end, we finally finished a game, which we didn’t do most of the year,” Becker added. “So, I think that was big for the team.”

“We have to be able to improve offensively, and be able to score,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Loeffler said. “We got guys in position for layups, and we missed shots. They [Johnson] made shots, and we missed them, and that was the difference of the second half.”

For the Highlanders, junior Billy Peneck and senior Jack Davey scored 13 points apiece in the loss. Senior and co-captain Javon Reis-Wilson added nine points.

Johnson head coach David Kennedy said that the team needs to stay focused and ready for each game, with the state tournaments only weeks away.

“Everybody wants to be playing their best basketball this time of year, so we’re hoping to feel good about ourselves, and take that into March,” David Kennedy, ALJ head coach said.

The Johnson Crusaders (9-12) are back in action when they play Robbinsville High School at home on Tuesday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m.

The Governor Livingston Highlanders (6-13) hit the road Friday night to play North Plainfield High School at 7:00 p.m.