LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston boys basketball team was defeated by Hackensack on Monday, 65-45, ousting the Lancers from the North 1, Group 4 state tournament and finishing their season with a record of 13-10.
“[Hackensack] is a great team,” said Livingston Head Coach Dave Cohen. “The first half, they shot about 80 percent from three-point range…They won it last year; they’ve been here before, and under the bright lights they play even better.”
The Comets, who Cohen said have “too much firepower,” dominated the contest from the start. Six three-point shots allowed for the Comets emerge from the first quarter with a 24-15 lead. Seth Brown and Kevin Mateo combined for 15 of the group’s 24 points in the frame.
The Lancers valiantly attempted to fight a 13-point halftime deficit in the third quarter. But after creating some key turnovers and defensive stops, Livingston was just too cold from the perimeter to cut the Comet lead.
“Defensively, we really came out in the second half and they only had three points the first few minutes, but we didn’t score,” said Cohen. “That was a window to try and get under 10 and switch the pressure a little bit, but it was not meant to be.”
Although ninth-seeded Hackensack will go down as an upset on paper, the Comet team is not an unknown by any means. The reigning section champions proved why they are still a threat to a more inexperienced squad like Livingston.
“It’s a good goal for us: get a higher seed and avoid a good team like this in the earlier rounds and get further,” said Cohen.
The Lancers finished their final quarter holding their heads high. Chris Boulin and Abe Rimatzki, staples of the Livingston offense, combined for 15 points in their final game of the season.
Despite the early exit from the tournament, the Livingston squad will still reflect fondly on a winning season for the program, which has been hard to come by.
“We’ve only had about three or four winning seasons in 35 years, so for us, finishing with a winning record, making the state tournament and getting a home game… we’ll take it and get better,” said Cohen. “When I asked them when does [preparing for next season] start, the kids said ‘tomorrow.’”