BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Governor Livingston Boys’ Basketball beat its rival New Providence on Super Saturday, 56-55, for the first time since 2017. GL was down two with 23 seconds to play, and after running down the clock, senior Sean McCulloch banked in a step-back three pointer to give GL the win.
The Highlanders started the game hot, answering an early New Providence field goal with nine unanswered points, including four early from senior Peyton Hopeck. The Pioneers tried to claw back to a tie, but GL held a 16-12 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Highlanders. GL dominated NP on the defensive end of the ball, holding the Pioneers to just five points in the first seven minutes of the quarter. GL was winning 33-17 before New Providence cut the lead to 13 on a last second three pointer from the corner as the buzzer sounded.
The Pioneers went on a big run in the third quarter, knocking down big three pointers to take a 48-42 lead into the fourth.
GL cut New Providence’s lead to four with under two minutes to play, and a tip shot from sophomore Brian McGrath made the Pioneer lead just two, with the score at 55-53. After being subbed in on defense for Ferd Melo, senior Connor Bigelow came up big for the Highlanders, knocking to ball free, falling on it, and calling a quick timeout with 23 ticks to go.
Out of the timeout, McCulloch inbounded to fellow senior Vinny Mellusi, who tried to run a play which New Providence handled for perfection. Mellusi reset, drove into two Pioneers, and kicked out to an open McCulloch who shed a defender with a step back.
“We set up a play for a two pointer and it just led to a three,” McCulloch said, “but it just led to a three. When I got the ball I had an open look so I put it up and knew it had a decent chance to go in.”
McCulloch’s three point shot hit the window, rolled around the rim, hit the backboard again, hung on the front of the rim, and dropped through the cylinder to give the Highlanders a one point advantage. New Providence’s Sean Dillon quickly fielded the inbound and chucked up a prayers that hit the backboard of the opposite goal, but was not near the hoop.
“This was a huge win for us,” McCulloch said. “If we keep playing team basketball we can make a good run these next couple of weeks.”
McCulloch scored 13 in the contest, with nine of those points coming off three made three pointers. McGrath led the Highlanders offensively, netting 17. Hopeck added eight as well.
GL will attempt to ride its momentum this week, as it faces a tough slate, traveling to Rahway on Tuesday and hosting red-hot Oratory on Thursday.