JERSEY CITY, NJ - The story titles for these articles are not that easy to come by. When I heard my officiating partner was Julio Gomez, whom I've had the pleasure to work with in the past, the title was a natural. The same as the Spring of '72 hit by Paul Simon. Actually Hamilton Park is not really a school yard but it is within walking distance of St. Anthony's and McNair High Schools. And partner Julio thought the title fit perfectly.
This past Friday we worked a triple header together. Two grade school tournament quarterfinals followed by a high school quarter. The scores :
Grade School :
Junior Friar's 38 Jersey Jayhawks 33
Future Ironmen 50 JC Boy's Club 27
High School :
St. Anthony's 52 Middletown (NJ) 43
The Future Ironmen, incoming freshmen to Don DoscoPrep showed a lot with their transition game and overall ability to play together. They were impressive indeed. The marquee game easily was the high school contest. A New Jersey Shore based team, Middletown had size and the ability to dictate tempo. They ran a lot of motion, zoned defensively and proved a tough test for top seed St. Anthony's.
The park was filling up by game time. Among those were noted prep talent evaluator Tom Konchalski as well as St. Anthony's Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley and assistant Ben Gamble. Hurley and Gamble watched by the baseline fence while assistants Tom Lalicata and Ed Malloy ran the team.
Yours truly had the opening toss. it went straight and high. Good because you do not want to start a game, particularly one of this stature, with a garbage toss.
Middletown got out to a 13-8 lead. They are patient, not bothered by pressure and working well inside. Eventually that Friar pressure results in Middletown turnovers and transition opportunities. St. Anthony's begins to capitalize and takes a narrow lead into the half.
Bringing the ball out for the second half, Konchalski gives a thumbs up. We have been friends three decades but Tom is always a straight shooter with his assessment. Simply, if he doesn't think you are doing the job he will let you know.
The third quarter sees St. Anthony's get some separation and get the margin up to ten points. It's still anyone's game but the Friars seem to make that big play and get the neededdefensive stop at the right time. St. Anthony's wins a hard fought game. A pleasure to officiate as the game saw talented players performing at a high level with no complaints, not even from the coaches.
The Middletown coach is young and a Kansas fan always wearing a Jayhawk shirt when coaching. He remarked how he felt the game was like a three point contest but "when St. Anthony's gets that run they finish you. we didn't want them to get it but they did." Still, Middletown showed a lot on their end. Impressed again with Jerome Frink of St. Anthony's the senior forward, about 6-7, hit the boards and ran the floor well in transition. Frink continues to impress every time out.
Finally, coach Hurley meets and speaks to the Middletown players and coach. He is rather informal but all attention is on him as the group hangs on every word.
Middletowncame up short on the scoreboard. But giving a solid performance plus hearing coach Hurley's advice and wisdom, definitely sent them home feeling like winners.