UNION, NJ - Westfield High’s girls basketball team saved its best game for its biggest – so far.
The top-seed Blue Devils dominated seventh-seed Governor Livingston 64-37 Saturday in earning the program’s second Union County Tournament title and first since 2008. Westfield never trailed in the final at Kean University as it won its 16th straight game. The Blue Devils were 4-5 to start the season, but are now 20-5.
“That just says something about the resiliency and the heart and the fight of this team. These kids are something special,” said coach Liz McKeon.
Governor Livingston cut its deficit to 37-28 with 4:19 left in the third quarter behind gritty senior guard Skylar Dowling who had 11 of her 17 points in the period.
Westfield replied with six straight to restore command to lead 43-28 with 40 seconds left in the third.
“We just ran out of gas and we just couldn’t make our shots at the end,” said Governor Livingston coach Chris Eckert.
Westfield made 16 of the 33 shots it took and were an outstanding 7 of 13 from three- point territory. They also made 13 of 16 free throws.
“It felt like we couldn’t miss,” said McKeon on Sunday. “Yesterday was our best offensive game of the year.”
Sophomore Chloe Kreusser had a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Caroline Dwyer finished with 14 points with four 3-pointers. Senior Faith Dobosiewicz scored nine and senior Ali Lisanti had eight points.
Dwyer would have been a great candidate as tournament MVP if that award was given. She scored 61 points and hit 15 three-pointers in the four tournament games.
The Blue Devils had been close the last few years, losing in the final to The Patrick School last season and in 2017 and to Roselle Catholic in the semifinals two seasons ago.
So the victory meant even more for seniors Dwyer, Dobosiewicz, Lisanti and Amanda Paden.
“These seniors have led the way and they had it in their mind that they weren’t leaving without winning the county championship," said McKeon.
McKeon said Sunday that winning a title as a coach in the town you grew up in made it especially precious.
“I’m just happy to give back to the school and the community I grew up in. I loved playing sports (especially basketball) at WHS and now I try to give these girls a great experience any way I can. High school teammates are something special,” said McKeon, a 1999 Westfield grad.
Governor Livingston was out to win its first county title since 2013. The Highlanders started the season 2-7, but turned it around. They had won 10 of 11 coming into the county final and are now 17-10.
“We always said ‘let’s shock the county and we tried to, but Westfield was the better team and congratulations to them,’” said Eckert. “Westfield is a really good team. They are tough. They have depth and all those girls can do something positive on the court.”
Highlander sophomore Reagan Hopeck had four points and eight rebounds and senior Shannon Polimeni had five points and six rebounds.
“We are very proud of our girls and how far they made this run,” said Eckert. “We really feel good about this team going forward.”
Both teams aren’t finished. A new tournament begins Tuesday. Fifth-seed Westfield plays host to No. 12 seed Edison in a NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group IV game. Ninth seed Governor Livingston plays at No. 8 seed Shore in Central Group II.