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***Otis Livingston may not yet have all the college attention he deserves, but he proved to be the No. 1 player on display Saturday night in leading Linden to UCT championship win vs. favored RC!

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***West Orange's Chris Morgan continues to win while striving to improve as a wrestler each week as he now heads Essex contingent to Atlantic City for NJSIAA state tourney. Read "Feature Articles"

***Tourney MVP Brian Kenez came through bigtime in leading Mendham to its 10th MCT title. Learn much more in "The Buzz"

The Patrick School's Zhane Irby (23, left) and Westfield's Jacqueline Knapp (2) get after it in pursuit of a loose ball during Friday night's Union County Tournament final at Kean. Patrick School held off the Blue Devils for dramatic 45-43 win. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

The Patrick School Holds On Vs. Westfield
For A Dramatic UCT Championship Win
By JR Parachini
For sidelinechatter.com

UNION – When you get to the championship game of a basketball tournament you want to see the teams battle right until the very end.

An attempt at a game-winning shot right before the buzzer wouldn’t hurt as well.

Fans of Union County girls’ basketball were treated to both Friday night.

When Westfield senior Jacqueline Knapp’s 3-point field goal try from the top of the key hit off the middle of the rim and bounced away with 2.2 seconds left, The Patrick School of Elizabeth was able to hold on for a hard-fought, highly-dramatic victory.

The 40th annual girls’ basketball Union County Tournament championship game, contested for the fifth straight year at Kean University’s Harwood Arena, saw second-seeded Patrick School edge fourth-seeded Westfield 45-43 Friday night as the Celtics captured their first county championship. It was a game that was about as evenly matched for 32 minutes as you will get.

“It was a matter of inches, not even, it was centimeters,” said Westfield first-year head coach Liz McKeon, describing the very closeness of the difference in the outcome. “If Jackie’s shot goes in, it’s a different story.”

The Patrick School - which won its fifth straight to improve to 20-6 - previously swept Westfield in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play, winning 46-34 in the season-opener for both right here at Kean back on Dec. 19 and then once more by double digits to the tune of 60-47 at Westfield on Jan. 31.

“Two months ago we played them here and we were shell-shocked,” McKeon said.

On Friday night, Westfield - which had a five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 15-8 - got off to a 6-0 lead before the Celtics scored. The Blue Devils took their final lead of 36-35 early in the fourth quarter when senior Lillian Scott scored her last basket. Westfield’s leading scorer finished with a team-high 12 points.

“We kept our composure here and we feel this is a home court for us,” said McKeon, referring to Westfield’s 2-3 record at Kean this season. “From the first time we played them (Patrick School) we learned our schemes and how to play as a team and really developed.”

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