HILLSDALE, NJ -- Between viewing NCAA men’s and women’s games, an assignment at the Hillsdale Hoops Tournament was the order of the day Sunday. The tournament, a March favorite, encompasses teams from several Northern New Jersey towns. It lasts about two weeks and is held in several different locations. On this day, a doubleheader at George White School in Hillsdale was the assignment.
The school has a newer gym very well suited to grade school level basketball, but the older gym was the location du jour, a very small venue, probably built around the time gas was 15 cents a gallon. We are working consolation bracket games, and following a fourth-grade boys’ game, my ;partner Rich and I have the fifth-grade girls.
Ramsey 27, Waldwick 20 (OT)
The boys’ game, and now the girls, both gave evidence this tiny gym does not do the kids justice. The gym would be better suited for recreation purposes. On the baseline, there is no room, just a wall about a foot from the endline on both ends. To compensate, we move closer to the corners to get a better angle. This was the first time Rich and I have worked together, but we were on the same page, communicating and working well as a team.
Waldwick got out to a 10-4 lead and appeared primed to run away with this. They have a No. 10 setting up in the high post with the ability to penetrate and shoot. A curious thing happened on the way to a rout: No. 10 got cold and there was not another player on Waldwick who could score. Ramsey did not panic being down early. They had two big girls and tried to work the ball inside. Overall, they had more scorers step up and closed the gap. At the half, it was 14-11 in Waldwick’s favor.
The gym is warm. The fans are getting into it in a fun atmosphere for a competitive contest. Waldwick got great looks, but outside of No. 10, no one could hit a shot. Even from five feet in, they struggled to convert. Early in the final quarter, No. 10 and one of the Waldwick guards fouled out. Ramsey finished strong with momentum at the end of a final quarter that saw about five combined points scored. We were tied at 19 heading to overtime.
The officials and teams for the next game were waiting as we play the three-minute overtime period. They do not seem perturbed, rather taking the excitement of it all in. Ramsey opened the scoring with two free throws. A Waldwick girl answered with one of two from the line, to which Ramsey responded with a field goal. On this level, you can press the final two minutes of each half and the last minute in overtime. Trailing, Waldwick pressed and Ramsey broke it, finishing with a layup to win 27-20. Waldwick, a fast starter, scored 10 points in the final three quarters and overtime combined.
Both coaches commended our work, which was nice. A number of players say ‘thank you for doing our game.’ On the way out, a fan tells me Michigan defeated Louisville. March Madness talk is not limited to Hillsdale Hoops. I also happened to see good officiating friend Glen Mezzatesta working in the bigger gym. Glen has a bounce in his step considering he is a Michigan alum, and thrilled John Beilein’s Wolverines are Sweet 16-bound.