UNION – Linden High School’s Otis Livingston did a good job of passing and running the offense in the first half, but turned it on in the second half to power the Tigers to a championship.
Otis Livingston scored 13 points in the fourth and 21 total points to lead seventh-seeded Linden over second-seeded Roselle Catholic 60-56 to win the Union County Tournament for the first time since 2007.
Livingston hit 10 free throws in the fourth, constantly drawing fouls as he attacked the basket and called his own number. The senior hit the three to give Linden the lead late and they kept it to the end.
“I just had some space on it and I just had the confidence to just shoot it. Thankfully, things went down for me,” said Livingston.
The senior was calm and collected throughout the final quarter, knocking down shot after shot to keep the lead. Livingston simply had confidence to get the job done.
“It’s just my confidence. I know that my teammates have confidence in me. I have to be that leader, that guy that takes shots and clutch free-throws down the stretch,” said Livingston.
Linden coach Phil Colicchio couldn’t say enough about Livingston, who went up against Isaiah Briscoe on defense and ultimately brought home the championship. Colicchio believes Livingston deserves recognition against one of the best guards in the state.
“If Otis Livingston isn’t the second-best guard in the state, then I must be missing the ball somewhere. The kid loves big moments. He just did it tonight on the foul line. He hit the three, did it defensively. He does everything,” said Colicchio.
Fritz Moncion scored the first six points for Linden by attacking the glass with offensive rebounds and putbacks, giving Linden a 10-9 after the first quarter. It set the tone that the Tigers were going to fight the whole night and scrap every possession.
The Tigers received big shots and performances from Khalief Crawford and Josh Carter. Colicchio knew he needed a team effort from his squad and he got it. Linden went with all seniors late and it ended up being the difference in his eyes.
“We decided to go with seniors and our seniors made big plays. There was a loose ball there, Juwan (Dolbrice) got it poked away from him. Rather than Juwan quit on on the ball, he didn’t quit. He just went right back after the ball,” said Colicchio.
Colicchio added, “He looked like a football guy going after a fumble. He got the ball back somehow some way, tipped it to Otis and I think that play really won us the basketball game in my opinion.”
Staff Writer Matt Silva: firstname.lastname@example.org