by Christina Jones
The Westfield Blue Devils held off the Governor Livingston Highlanders 32–29 Jan. 3 in the first annual Holiday Hoops for Troops Classic held at Roselle Catholic.
Westfield led throughout the game with a strong first-half rebounding effort by senior Scott Toresco. Toresco hit a key 3-pointer with 1:40 to go in the first half. Sophomore Sean Elliot and freshman Nick Mele also hit first-half 3-pointers with WHS leading 17–15 going into the second half.
Said senior Tri-Captain David Kane: “[The game] was a reality check of where we are and the work we still need to do to get where we need to be.”
Junior Dylan Elliott had a strong third quarter with 4 points to offset GL’s Vic Candeloro, who contributed a game-high total of 10 points, 6 of those in the third quarter.
Governor Livingston tied the score early in the fourth quarter on Candeloro’s hook shot. However Westfield pulled ahead as the Blue Devils drew fouls, adding six points from the free-throw line.
Coach Daryl Palmieri said: “The team didn't execute the way we needed to which put the game into question for us. Luckily, our bench stepped up and gave us some good minutes down the stretch to help us hold on for the win.”
The Highlanders responded with a key 3 pointer by Steve Duda with 41 seconds to go in the game. GL fought hard in the remaining seconds with three open shots that did not fall, preserving the three point victory for the 5–1 Blue Devils.
“The game was very sloppy and we need to improve on a lot. But the good thing is, we won. We must learn from our mistakes and win the next one,” said senior Tri-Captain Keegan Hess.
The Hoops for Troops classic also featured other games, including Coach Kevin Boyle’s Montverde, FL team which defeated Roselle Catholic 77–51. The proceeds of the event supported Warfighter Sports, an organization that aids severely injured soldiers.
Said Palmieri: ...Hoops for Troops was a fundraiser started by Roselle Catholic. This was the first year of it, and hopefully, we will be back in it next year.”