KEARNY, NJ - A JV girls’ meeting between Kearny and Dickinson proved to be an easy 45-8 victory for home standing Kearny. Kearny also defeated Dickinson in the varsity game, a much more competitive contest. Pregame talk with varsity coaches Jody Hill of Kearny and Cathy O’Callahan of Dickinson saw Hill talk about taking her varsity team to watch undefeated Marist girls face Bayonne in the. She would stay for a half of JV before heading to Bayonne.
O’ Callahan is in a tough situation. A lot of the girls in her program have little playing experience prior to high school, so it is a teaching experience from day one. She puts in the time and effort, even getting them into summer leagues to gain experience and improve. There has been some success along the way, but it remains a job requiring great patience and commitment. Thankfully, she has both.
O’Callahan, the former Cathy Meyers, was a starter at Montclair State during their glory days. Her backcourt mate was none other than Carol Blazejowski, to whom she always says to say hello when we officiate. Meyers quickly recalled a story from those days. Back then, with no formal methods of supervising and/or hiring officials, athletic directors or coaches called the officials. “We had Eddie Ford do some of our games,” she recalled. “He knew me since I was ten years old and would be chatting with me when the game was going on. Classic.”
O’ Callahan had several stops before Dickinson. She coached at St. Anthony’s and praised Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella for recruiting one of her players, Naeemah Ricketts, during his Iona days. “Tony is the best,” O’Callahan said. “He gave Naeemah an opportunity, she had a nice career and is now coaching in college.”
Lore of Hudson County basketball is always interesting, but there is a game to work and report.
Halftime: Kearny 32, Dickinson 4
Kearny is a full court pressing team. In our pregame meeting, it was discussed with partner Sean Devaney to expect pressure and the fact the Kearny coach will call it off after getting a lead of note. Our chat proved to be on the money. The press forces turnovers, creates transition baskets and builds a quick 10-0 lead. At that point, the Kearny coach calls off the pressure and settles into halfcourt defense. The change in defense is of little consequence as Dickinson finally enters the scorebook after Kearny built a 17-0 lead. The first half actually flowed well. Dickinson was in a 2-3 zone, and Kearny buried several three pointers and mid range jumpers.
Final: Kearny 45, Dickinson 8
Much of the same throughout the second half. Kearny stayed in halfcourt defense. They did not run the break and executed a three-out, high-low post zone offense. The margin gave the Kearny coach a great opportunity to provide significant minutes to a number of players who normally get limited playing time. Dickinson struggled offensively, and their scoring came mostly on close in shots on offensive rebounds. They have two JV coaches, and to their credit, both kept coaching and teaching the kids, encouraging positive plays and correcting what needed to be corrected. They were overmatched. In the final analysis, it came down to a learning situation. Despite the score, the Dickinson coaches looked for effort and playing the right way. Kearny had two coaches on their JV staff as well, and they reiterated the point of the game, giving significant minutes and game experience to those who may not get as much on a given night.
On this evening, as opposed to the last trip here, the heat in the gym worked fine.