KEARNY, NJ - On paper, this promised to be a good matchup between two strong teams on the junior varsity level from respectively strong programs, Bayonne and Kearny. Just getting in the gym was a chore, as ten inches of snow necessitated closing some entrances to the school. The varsity playing before us, started late, so there was plenty of time to get ready.
My partner Derek officiated years ago, took time to start a family and coach youth before getting back on the officiating end. Interspersed among our pregame chat was a few observations on travel, high school and AAU ball today.
Jamie Smith coaches the Bayonne freshmen. Her sister Tara coaches JV and Jamie fills in for her today. Once again, the heat is sparsely on, not making it an ideal situation for those of us still battling a cold.
First half: Kearny 21, Bayonne 9
Kearny starts off in full court man-to-man pressure and Bayonne struggles getting the ball up the floor and entering an offense. On the defensive side, Bayonne zones and Kearny runs a three-out, two-inside offense. Given the look, Kearny will take and hit a few from three. The homestanding Kardinals are up 10-2 and build on that lead. At 21-7, the press is pulled off and Kearny settles in a zone.
Second half: Kearny 41, Bayonne 29
The final 16 minutes see Kearny go dry and Bayonne find the range. They have a No. 31 with size hitting some outside shots and mixing it up inside. Bayonne gets this to a two-possession deficit. They can get no closer. Kearny puts the press back on a few possessions and of greater importance, gets to the line and converts at a rate college teams would love to show on their stat sheet.
In the third quarter I call a reach in on number 23 of Kearny. She voices displeasure and is admonished by her coach. A few minutes later, my partner has a similar call on her with the same reaction. Now she is not vehemently protesting or showing us up, so I hold the technical. Instead I talk to her calmly saying, “just relax, you don’t want to hurt your team.” She does comply and we move on. Putting into play another lesson drilled into us at officiating camps.
Late in the game, a fifth foul is called on number 20 of Bayonne. The visiting book has her for four, home has five. The home book is official, so she is disqualified and coach Smith agrees with our ruling. Kearny closes out a solid win. Several players and both side pass, saying ‘good game.’ The number 23 passes, saying sarcastically, “yeah, real good game, ref. ” I just reply saying “good hustle out there, 23.” The postgame reaction of 23 was not favorable, but did not bother me. They are kids. They are learning and hopefully maturing. What bothers me is the type of reaction you get from adults, and you can get that. Adults should know better. Kids are still learning, and I am certain the Kearny coach will again address with her number 23 the method of dealing with calls she does not agree with.