Logan Kelly scored 20 points as Governor Livingston won their season opener 58-42 over Scotch Plains. The senior guard proved that he has the ability to get to the basket at will and provided the Highlanders with key baskets down the stretch.
The Raiders had pulled to within five points at 47-42 with just over three minutes left in the contest and appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead and stealing one on the road. Instead, Kelly and senior backcourt mate Reid Harrison (11 points) led a rally that saw Governor Livingston score the game’s final 11 points.
Governor Livingston started the game much like they finished it, opening the first quarter with a 12-0 run that their opponents never really recovered from.
“I thought defensively we took them out of the game early and really flattened them out,” said Governor Livingston head coach Steve Petruzzelli.
The run also served as a coming out party of sorts for junior forward Cameron DeFronzo whose starting nod was also the first action of his varsity career. DeFronzo responded to coach Petruzzelli’s faith in him with an 11-point effort including five early points much to the delight of the raucous Highlander crowd.
“We have one of the greatest stories around,” said Petruzzelli. “He got cut from the middle school team twice. Barely made our freshman team. Was the tenth man on a JV team who won seven games. Then, he starts tonight and plays really well.”
Trailing 13-2 to open the second quarter, Scotch Plains began to settle in on both ends of the floor and find junior forward Thomas Bonacum (11 points) who was able to use his combination of size and athleticism to get to the basket with relative ease. Despite finding some offensive success in the second period the Raiders still entered the locker room at the half trailing 24-14.
The second half began looking as though it would feature more of the same as Governor Livingston opened up a 30-14 lead behind a 6-0 run.
With the game on the verge of getting out of reach, Scotch Plains finally began to find some success on the offensive end as senior guard Ian Johnston was able to weave his way through the defense for some impressive shots.
Johnston finished with 16 points on the night and was also strong on the defensive end where the Raiders were able to use their zone press to create turnovers as they cut into the deficit. The Raiders’ aggressive defensive style allows them to quickly cut into a lead, just as they did on this night.
Scotch Plains pulled within three at 35-32 which turned out to be the closest they would come to taking the lead in this contest. Every time that the Raiders seemed to have their opponent on their heels, the Highlanders would respond with a score that seemed to deflate their opponent just enough.
“Logan and Reed struggled a bit in the second half, but when we got into those last three minutes of the game, they came through big,” said Petruzzelli.
With Scotch Plains seemingly running out of gas, Governor Livingston was able to take advantage and close out their opponents with the 11-0 run that left no doubt about who was the better team on this night.
“We said from the very beginning,” said Petruzzelli. “This team has a lot of more upside then they had in the past because of the development of the young guys.”
The Highlanders return to action tonight when they host Bayonne at 7 p.m. while the Raiders also return today at 1 p.m. against Neputne in the Tip-Off Classic at West Orange high school.