By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
UNION CITY, NJ - A Thursday afternoon JV meeting with St. Dominic and Union City. The Union City gym may be the best in the county, as it is the newest. Entering, it is noticeable the lights are not on to their full strength. One coach tells me they are. The normally well-lit
gym had to replace bulbs and budget constraints, so the story goes, necessitated a wattage reminiscent of Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym during Tom Penders’ days. Topping this off, yours truly is battling a bad cold and my partner tells me Union City is struggling, but likes to press.
Pregame talk briefly with the St. Dom’s head coach lets me know his one assistant is a Seton Hall grad and was at their game against Butler Wednesday night. We talked about the lack of flow of the game and Butler’s defense. Hopefully this game will have a better flow.
First Half: Union City 22, St. Dom’s 16
Union City has a No. 25, a freshman, knocking down three-pointers. They build a double-digit lead. The full court pressure forces a few turnovers, but is not too detrimental to St. Dom’s. As noted, Union City is having a tough season, so the pressure leads to reach-in fouls, soon putting the visitors on the line. Adjustment to the lighting was easier than expected. Once you toss the ball up and get into the game, you adjust to conditions. Flow-wise, the first half moved fairly well. I told my partner at halftime the cold effects do not even seem present. Getting out and running the floor has been therapeutic.
Final: Union City 38, St. Dom’s 36
The good flow of the first sixteen minutes dissipated this half. For one, we had at least four clock malfunctions in the third quarter. They finally brought out a portable clock to put on the scorer’s table. My home scorer, a student wearing a shirt saying “Basketball is my boyfriend,” spent more time texting than paying attention and had to be watched. Union City is still pressing full court. St. Dom’s is in man-to-man pressure. Translated, a half of double bonus and roughly 25 combined fouls. During one dead ball, I am by the St. Dom’s bench. One of their players says, “I like your whistle,” not uncommon to hear from the girls. I showed her the breast cancer awareness insignia, and she went from liking to loving it.
Union City never lost the lead, but a one-possession game in the stretch provided a few anxious moments. No. 25 hit a big three. The Soaring Eagles also scored off an inbounds pass to seal the game with seconds left. St. Dom’s scored at the buzzer for the final margin.
I talked a few minutes after the game with Kaitlyn Galati, the St. Dom’s coach. They have one win, so naturally, her young group is in a teaching/learning situation. She does demand effort. “I let them hear about it after we lost to Hoboken last week,” she said. Admitting Hoboken was better, Kaitlyn was upset at her team not giving a good effort in the second half. Today, the source of discontent was not grabbing a winnable game. “Again,” she said, “for too long in the second half, we seemed to go through the motions.” As coach, she is a teacher on the basketball court. One thing Kaitlyn expects of her students is an honest effort.
My partner and I go over the game in the officials’ room. No major issues, but a contest, due to the clock and second half fouling, that lost any semblance of flow. My partner, impressed by the touch and range of No. 25, tells me the scorer told her she shot 6-of-7 from three-point range. Given the Union City varsity’s struggles, that young lady may soon be called up.