CLARK, NJ - Governor Livingston High School’s girls’ basketball team has arrived at a place they haven’t been since 2013. The Highlanders have earned a berth in the Union County Tournament semifinals.
Sophomore guard Gianna Ciccimarra matched her season high 16 points and senior Skylar Dowling 11 as the seventh-seeded Highlanders surprised No. 2 New Providence 42-27 at A.L. Johnson High School in Clark.
Governor Livingston will meet third-seed Union Catholic in a county semifinal Tuesday back at A.L. Johnson. Governor Livingston has won nine straight the last loss coming January 25 to Union Catholic.
Governor Livingston is now two wins from a Union County Tournament title, something it won in the 2012-13 and ’11-’12 seasons. GL was beaten in the ’10-11 final.
“We play them again tomorrow (Saturday in a regular season game at New Providence) and then we go on to the (tournament) semis and we are just gonna keep playing as a team and keep this run alive,” said third-year coach Chris Eckert.
GL has won 14 of 15 after a 2-7 start. The surge was sustained in the county quarterfinal against a team that is 21-3.
Governor Livingston never trailed and was never threatened. The Highlanders ran out to a 7-0 lead with Ciccimarra hitting the first two buckets of the game. They led 9-2 after the first quarter, 13-7 at half and enjoyed a 27-13 cushion after three periods.
That was a much different scenario then January 4 when New Providence beat the Highlanders 50-42 in Berkeley Heights. Ciccamarra had but one basket in that contest.
“The mentality we had was different than Super Saturday,” said Ciccimarra.”The first time we played them we were just starting, so it was like one of the first couple of games (sixth game of season) of the year and now we are more united. We are together more. It created a great result for this game. We were on point today.”
Ciccimarra is known as the team’s defensive specialist, said Eckert. Her relentlessness is part of a fabric of being a three-sport athlete, said Eckert. Ciccamarra was a member of the girls soccer team that won a NJSIAA Group II state title in 2018 and she also plays lacrosse in the spring.
“When she gets going (on offense) she’s quick, she’s so quick, you can’t keep her in front,” said Eckert. “She’s by far our best on ball defender. It takes a lot of pressure off our senior guards.”
The Highlanders were able to limit Pioneer freshmen sharpshooter Meghan Lemanna (7 pts) and juniors Lindsay Kinum (6 pts) and Amy Maurer (8 pts).
“We had a game plan in place. We had to stop 20 (Lemanna) and 15 (Maurer). They are a tough team to play man (to man defense) against, their dribble drive offense is really tough. We decided we’d try to zone them a little bit to slow them down and we did.”