BY RAY FLORIANI
Freshman Girls: Kearny 43, Union 28
Kearny, NJ - The afternoon game called for a matchup between Kearny and Union High School's freshman teams. The game is at a grade school gym, which is often the case, as freshmen get less priority for court sites. In this case, it is not bad, as the floor is a perfect size for this level.
Kearny builds an early 7-2 lead, thanks to full court pressure. Union hits a few outside shots and battles back. Late in the second quarter, Kearny goes on another run to enter the half ahead 16-12 . Kearny has some size and a few ball handlers, which is a luxury on this level. And it is something Union cannot match.
The second half sees Kearny pressure take its toll. Union does not have an answer. I was impressed with the zone offense of Kearny. If a post player was doubled, she instantly looked for a teammate cutting weak side. That is something some high school varsity teams do not do, maybe even some colleges.
The kids are learning. I call number 5 on Kearny for a few reach-ins. ‘What did I do?”, she asked. I explained that she can defend closely, but must move her feet. In other words, body checking your opponent is not acceptable.
Kearny wraps up a 43-28 victory. Afterwards, the Kearny coach noted the regular season is almost done and the girls look forward to the Hudson County freshman tournament, beginning next week. Advancing could mean a game in the Kearny High School gym. To the freshman girls, it is like a college team leaving the campus facility for a game at Madison Square Garden. Competitively speaking, from what was seen, it appears this Kearny group can make a run at the title.
The Union coach said his team is struggling, but it is a true learning experience, as several of his girls were playing for the first time. On a positive, they communicated with each other and showed an enthusiasm despite the outcome. That, in itself, is noteworthy.