GL girls’ basketball – lifted by stellar performances from Ferguson, George and DiTomasso – capture 2nd straight UCT crown

Cranston, Dilly assist in leading Highlanders to 54-44 championship game win over Oak Knoll

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - The opening tip is between Oak Knoll sophomore Julia Wanfried at left and GL senior Erin Ferguson.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – The opening tip is between Oak Knoll sophomore Julia Wanfried at left and GL senior Erin Ferguson.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Kerri Moran paced Oak Knoll with 17 points.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Kerri Moran paced Oak Knoll with 17 points.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Cranford is the 2013 JV UCT champion.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Cranford is the 2013 JV UCT champion.

UNION – Erin Ferguson’s teammates didn’t let her down.

And vice versa.

Oak Knoll led by six with 3:58 to go in the second quarter when Ferguson – Governor Livingston’s talented 6-1 senior center – went to the bench with her third foul.

That could have spelled big-time trouble for the defending champions.

However, Oak Knoll was not able to add to its lead with Ferguson – who scored a team-leading six points in the first quarter – out of the game for the rest of the first half.

Instead, senior Mallory George – who had only one point at that time of the game – began to get in the flow, hitting her first two field goals and scoring seven points while Ferguson was out.

GL scored nine of the game’s next 12 points without Ferguson in the mix, forging the game’s first tie right before halftime.

The Highlanders – also sparked by the timely outside shooting of reserve Patrice DiTomasso – took the lead for good in the third quarter and continued to expand on it in the fourth.

When Ferguson came back in the contest in the third quarter she led the way, finishing with a game-high 21 points, while also pulling down 12 rebounds and blocking five shots to lead third-seeded GL to a convincing 54-44 win over eighth-seeded Oak Knoll in Sunday night’s 38th annual Frank J. Cicarell girls’ basketball Union County Tournament championship game at Kean University’s Harwood Arena.

Ferguson, who also scored a game-high 14 points in GL’s 36-27 start-to-finish triumph over Cranford Monday night in the semifinals at Rahway, was the dominant player in the UCT’s Final Four.

Ferguson, off numerous assists from fellow senior starters Alyssa Cranston and Sara Dilly, scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half.


JR’s UCT Final Four MVP and

All-Tournament Team

MVP: Erin Ferguson, GL, senior

All-Tournament Team:

Mallory George, GL, senior

Alyssa Cranston, GL, senior

Kerri Moran, Oak Knoll, senior

Catherine Bonner, Oak Knoll, junior

Jess McCoy, Cranford, senior

Jada Lewis, Linden, senior


GL became the first program to win its first two crowns in consecutive years since Scotch Plains did so in 2004 and 2005, the Raiders beating in-town rival Union Catholic both years in title games played at the Dunn Sport Center in Elizabeth.

The Highlanders improved to 20-4, won 20 games for the second consecutive season and will take a 10-game winning streak into the North 2, Group 3 playoffs. As the top seed, the Highlanders will host 16th-seeded Plainfield Tuesday night in first-round action in Berkeley Heights. GL swept Plainfield in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play.

GL, which was playing in its third straight UCT final, increased its UCT winning streak to eight and is 10-1 in the UCT the past three seasons.

GL, which also became the first repeat UCT champion since Roselle Catholic won three straight from 2009-2011, last lost on Jan. 18 at Scotch Plains 55-40.

Oak Knoll, which took out the top seed – RC – leading the Lions from start to finish in the quarterfinals, had a seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 21-4.

The Royals, who still lead Union County in wins, are the second seed for the Non-Public, North B playoffs. After receiving a first round bye, Oak Knoll will host a quarterfinal round game Friday against either seventh-seeded Eastern Christian or 10th-seeded St. Mary’s, Rutherford. Those teams will play each other in a first round game Wednesday at Eastern Christian.

Oak Knoll was impressive for the first eight minutes against GL, making its first two 3-pointers – long-range shots produced by junior Catherine Bonner and senior Kelly McAloon – and taking a 10-4 lead without one single point from leading scorer, senior Kerri Moran.

Moran ended up pacing Oak Knoll with 17 points, which is her average, but she uncharacteristically missed five free throws during the course of the game, shooting just 50 percent (5-for-10) from the line.

Oak Knoll managed to twice take leads of eight points in the first half, initially at 16-8 in the first quarter and then at 18-10 early in the second when Moran opened the period with a layup.

DiTomasso’s first of her team-leading three 3-pointers – she made GL’s only 3-pointers of the game – pulled the Highlanders to within 18-13. The shot from the left side was an important basket for GL, with the Highlanders in danger of falling further behind as Oak Knoll continued its attempt to increase valuable momentum.

George scored the final two points of the first half on free throws to forge the game’s first tie at 24-24.

George scored 13 of her 14 points after the first quarter and DiTomasso scored all 13 of her points from the second quarter on.

After George opened the second-half scoring following an offensive rebound she grabbed, Bonner tied the game for the second and last time at 26-26.

Then after Oak Knoll senior Monica Fritz missed two free throws, GL came back down with DiTomasso – again from the left side – nailing a 3-pointer that gave her team the lead for good at 29-26.

Single free throws later in the third quarter by junior Keegan Kelly and Moran pulled the Royals back to within three at 31-28.

However, GL closed the period on a 5-0 run, with Ferguson producing a conventional three-point play and then scoring again inside after receiving a pass from Cranston.

Oak Knoll twice got within five points in the fourth quarter – the first time after Keegan’s only 3-pointer and the second time after a Moran jumper – but couldn’t make a further dent.

As was expected, the Royals had a tough time trying to prevent passes from Cranston, Dilly and other GL players to Ferguson for baskets in the paint.

“Ferguson is a hard matchup,” Oak Knoll second-year head coach John Bertollo said. “When she went to the bench with three fouls it was a missed opportunity for us.”

GL picked the best time of the season to be playing its most consistent basketball. The Highlanders have defeated their last 10 foes by an average of just under 15 points.

Oak Knoll, which finished second in the Mountain Division, but finished the season 4-1 against teams from the Watchung Division – including conference-crossover wins against Scotch Plains and Cranford and UCT victories over Roselle Catholic and Linden – has plenty to be proud of despite just falling short of gaining its first county crown.

The Royals took out ninth-seeded Dayton in the first round – beating the Bulldogs for the third time in three tries – and then knocked out higher-seeded Watchung Division foes Roselle Catholic and Linden to reach the final for the first time since 1998.

“Our girls never quit,” Bertollo said. “We showed that in our game against Linden.”

Oak Knoll outscored fifth-seeded Linden 22-9 in the fourth quarter of its semifinal Monday at Rahway, beating the Tigers 46-42.

“GL is a great team and the county champion again, so they deserve a lot of credit,” Bertollo said. “We still had a fantastic run.”



2013: Gov. Livingston 54, Oak Knoll 44

2012: Gov. Livingston 31, Cranford 25

2011: Roselle Catholic 33, Gov. Livingston 26



1-Kerri Moran, Oak Knoll, senior

2-Jada Lewis, Linden, senior

3-Sydney Morang, New Providence, freshman

4-Drew Winter, Plainfield, junior

5-Jess McCoy, Cranford, senior

6-Erin Ferguson, Gov. Livingston, senior

As voted on Sunday at Kean by county coaches. 


Tabitha Davis, Benedictine Academy, senior

Jess McCoy, Cranford, senior

Jada Lewis, Linden, senior

Cassandra Squeri, New Providence, senior

Taylor Sebolao, Scotch Plains, senior

Drew Winter, Plainfield, junior

Breana Spencer, Plainfield, junior


NOTES: Third-seeded Cranford came back in the second half to defeat sixth-seeded Gov. Livingston 34-30 in the JV championship game at Kean. Cranford beat GL three times in three tries.

Cranford Cougars:

15-Lindsay Pace

23-Bella Speer

12-Erin Meixner

25-Jen Caravolano

4-Vienna Stivala

3-Kat Palivio

33-Cerys MacLelland

20-Emily Raybine

13-Clare Cimenicki

11-Lisa Silvestrini

24-Marissa Dankosky

5-Meghan Power

30-Grace Reynolds

22-Miranda Brown

Head coach: James Brennan




8-OAK KNOLL (21-4)                               16           8          4        16 – 44

3-GOV. LIVINGSTON (20-4)                 10         14        12       18 – 54



20-Kerri Moran, senior, 6-0-5-17

10-Kelly McAloon, senior, 2-1-2-9

30-Catherine Bonner, junior, 3-1-3-12

50-Julia Wanfried, sophomore, 0-0-0-0

23-Monica Fritz, senior, 1-0-0-2

33-Keelin O’Loughlin, sophomore, 0-0-0-0

35-Megan Wynne, senior, 0-0-0-0

14-Keegan Kelly, junior, 0-1-1-4

25-Helena Sommer, junior, 0-0-0-0

22-Emily McCarthy, freshman, 0-0-0-0

13-Naji Thompson, sophomore, 0-0-0-0

Starters: Moran, Bonner,

Wanfried, Fritz, McAloon

Totals: 12-3-11-44



15-Mallory George, senior, 4-0-6-14

22-Erin Ferguson, senior, 9-0-3-21

5-Marielle Jankowski, senior, 0-0-1-1

10-Alyssa Cranston, senior, 2-0-0-4

21-Sara Dilly, sophomore, 0-0-0-0

23-Patrice DiTomasso, junior, 1-3-2-13

13-Haley Berliner, sophomore, 0-0-1-1

44-Katie Rielly, junior, 0-0-0-0

2-Jenny Pires, junior, 0-0-0-0

24-Lauren DiStaso, junior, 0-0-0-0

12-Lauren Sorrano, freshman, 0-0-0-0

Starters: George, Ferguson,

Cranston, Jankowski, Dilly

Totals: 16-3-13-54







SEEDS: 1-Roselle Catholic. 2-Cranford. 3-Gov.Livingston. 4-New Providence.

5-Linden. 6-Union. 7-Westfield. 8-Oak Knoll.

9-Dayton. 10-Scotch Plains. 11-Hillside. 12-Summit.

13-Plainfield. 14-Johnson. 15-Union Catholic. 16-Elizabeth.

17-Kent Place. 18-Brearley. 19-Rahway. 20-Roselle.



Sunday, Feb. 10

At Johnson

Plainfield 68, Roselle 38

Union Catholic 61, Brearley 27

Johnson 60, Rahway 47

Elizabeth 33, Kent Place 23



Monday, Feb. 11

At Rahway

Scotch Plains 46, Westfield 44

Cranford 47, Union Catholic 38

At Roselle Catholic

Hillside 59, Union 54

Gov. Livingston 60, Johnson 33

At Johnson

Oak Knoll 45, Dayton 36

Plainfield 57, New Providence 51

Roselle Catholic 61, Elizabeth 22

Linden 55, Summit 37



Thursday, Feb. 14

At Rahway

Linden 57, Plainfield 50 (OT)

Oak Knoll 49, Roselle Catholic 43

At Roselle Catholic

Gov. Livingston 66, Hillside 54

Cranford 43, Scotch Plains 37



Monday, Feb. 18

At Rahway

Gov. Livingston 36, Cranford 27

Oak Knoll 46, Linden 42



At Kean University

Sunday, Feb. 24

JV: Cranford 34, Gov. Livingston 30

Varsity: Gov. Livingston 54, Oak Knoll 44





2013 – Gov. Livingston

2012 – Gov. Livingston – first time

2011 – Roselle Catholic

2010 – Roselle Catholic

2009 – Roselle Catholic

2008 – Westfield – first time

2007 – Scotch Plains

2006 – Cranford – first time

2005 – Scotch Plains

2004 – Scotch Plains – first time

2003 – Roselle Catholic – first time

2002 – Roselle – first time

2001 – Union Catholic

2000 – Union – first time

1999 – Summit – first time

1998 – Union Catholic

1997 – Elizabeth

1996 – Elizabeth

1995 – Elizabeth – first time

1994 – Linden

1993 – Linden

1992 – Union Catholic

1991 – Linden – first time

1990 – New Providence – first time

1989 – Union Catholic

1988 – Union Catholic

1987 – Union Catholic

1986 – Union Catholic

1985 – Hillside – first time

1984 – Plainfield

1983 – Plainfield

1982 – Plainfield

1981 – Plainfield

1980 – Plainfield

1979 – Plainfield – first time

1978 – Mother Seton – first time

1977 – Union Catholic – first time

1976 – Benedictine – first time

Championships: Union Catholic 8; Plainfield 6; Roselle Catholic 4;

Linden, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains 3; Gov. Livingston 2;

Benedictine, Mother Seton, Hillside, New Providence, Summit,

Union, Roselle, Cranford, Westfield 1.