Rutherford, NJ - Games as this occur more frequently than not. And not just in New Jersey. On Wednesday evening St. Mary defeated Wallington 72-14 in a boy’s contest at the George Vuyosevich Gymnasium in Rutherford. Naturally, a game as this is not easy on the coach of the team on the short end. On the other hand it can be difficult for the coach on the winning side.
"That was tough," was the initial reaction St. Mary coach Brian Gaccione. The Gaels led 49-5 at the half en route to their 11th win in 13 games. What was ‘tough’? The fact Gaccione did all he could to keep the score down. And still pondering if he did enough. "We could have scored a hundred," the coach said.
Someone may pose the question of why a game like this was scheduled. Simple, it was a league game. Both St. Mary and Wallington are in the NJIC so home and home meetings are on the schedule. In Northern New Jersey conferences are frequently realigned to strive for competitive balance. Regardless, you can still have gaps in the strength of two given teams.
St. Mary runs and presses, forcing an uptempo pace. Anyone arriving late, hoping to see the Gael transition game, was out of luck. After a few minutes St. Mary did not press or get out on the break. They defended with a 2-3 zone and no trapping. Offensively they walked the ball up the floor. Wallington zoned so the Gaels ran several zone offenses. The offense featured a number of passes before getting the shot. Despite the one-sidedness, Gaccione was attentive to the way his group ran their offense. Were the passes crisp? Was there enough patience attacking and offensive spacing? Personnel wise, the second unit and reserves saw appreciable playing time.
The loss dropped Wallington to 3-11. Luke Gaccione of St. Mary led the scoring with 19 points. Fred Lyczko led the Panthers with 6 points. St. Mary out rebounded Wallington 42-15. No one kept second chance points but it's safe to say the Gaels had their share due to their dominating the boards. As the final buzzer sounded the clock operator immediately erased the final score. A touch of class. No need for that team on the short end to have to be reminded by seeing the score as they progressed through the post game handshake line.
Gaccione has scheduled a difficult out of conference slate. Among the opposition are Hudson Catholic and Gill St. Bernards. The coach’s theory is to schedule tough to have his team ready for NJIC, county and state tournaments. On this night his concern was on having done the right thing by not intentionally running up the score and not embarrassing his opponent.
In the end Gaccione came ahead on both counts, the final score and the way he and his club managed the game.