Friday, December 23, 2016

Pink Whistle: December 21, 2016

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

NORTH BERGEN, NJ - Freshman girls’ basketball at the Rec Center: Bayonne versus North Bergen.

The complex about 10 blocks from North Bergen High School gives the freshmen a home away from home. The old style tartan surface, though, is not ideal  for the knees. The North Bergen coach is a former player yours truly officiated during her North Bergen playing days. Like Bayonne, the former players from North Bergen often return as coaches to give back to the program.

First half: 16-12 Bayonne. Four minutes elapsed before the first score, a short North Bergen jumper. Bayonne has the size, but struggles to finish. North Bergen went man-to-man pressure in the second quarter, not helping their personal foul situation; especially their No. 23, who fouled out with 20 seconds to go in the half. Bayonne is staying with their 2-3 zone, allowing North Bergen to fire an often less than desirable shot.

At the half, my partner Chris, a second-year official doing a great job working with the poise of a seasoned veteran, tells me the timer said it is white ball (North Bergen) to start the second half. Chris and I both have red (Bayonne). I tell Chris we as officials have the official call on the arrow. The scorer’s table may keep it, but unofficially, we have the final word. Red ball.

Second half: 34-22 Bayonne for the final score. Simple formula: Sit back in the zone, force North Bergen to shoot outside and let your bigs dominate the boards. In the first half, Bayonne had trouble converting inside. The last 16 minutes saw them use the backboard better, not rush shots and start to find the bottom of the net. Bayonne’s point guard, No. 3, did a nice job controlling the offense and making some sound decisions on when to finish transition and when to put the brakes on and go into half court offense. Her ball handling ability, I believe, was a major reason North Bergen scrapped the press after a quarter. Down the stretch, North Bergen is hoisting shots; to which the coach says, “you are chucking, not running an offense.” The story of this one was Bayonne’s inside play, which was so effective the final sixteen minutes.

Postgame, Bayonne coach Jamie Smith tells her kids they have three minutes to get ready, just barely enough time to put on sweats and a coat for the ride to the high school to watch the varsity. We talk for a few minutes, particularly about the LIU-UMBC game I covered the night before that saw a 5-5 first quarter score. “Good defense,” Smith said. “And some misfiring on offense,” I added. She asked if I have a busy officiating weekend coming up. “Not really, something called Christmas,” I replied half in jest. “That’s right, happy holidays,” she said. “You too,” I replied.

And to all following the Pink Whistle and Daly Dose as well.

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