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New Season at Hamilton Park Under Way

July 6, 2010 Columns No Comments

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Hamilton Park Summer League started its new season the final Monday evening in June. It is an outdoor league, but if the weatherman dictates, the games will be moved inside.

League commissioner and officiating coordinator – the circuit’s “David Stern” – Pat Devaney made the call with showers in the forecast so on opening night we were inside at Hudson Catholic High School.

In January 2008 officiating called for a doubleheader at Hudson the first week of January. The mercury outside barely hit twenty and in the gym it was a bit chilly. I remarked to the scorer, in lighter tone, the low thermostat was in keeping with catholic school tradition. then I noticed the scorer was a Christian Brother affiliated with the school. After the proverbial foot in mouth, suffice to say we had two good games.

On Hamilton’s opening night at Hudson it may have been payback time for yours truly. The temperature outside was over 90. Hudson, with no fans or windows to open had to have a reading flirting with 100 degrees. You know it’s hot when the trusty league score keeper, Regina, is hitting the water cooler during each time out. Four games were on tap but thankfully on the officiating end we had the last two. My partner is a college official, Greg Ebben, who found out about the league ironically, through an article by yours truly. After reaching out to Devaney, Ebben was on board and a welcomed addition.

The early game, in a battle of Jersey City schools, saw Snyder defeat Lincoln. I caught the last half of game two, a competitive battle where St. Mary’s (JC) defeated East Orange. Now it was off to work.

Hudson Catholic 39, Newark Tech 36

The size of Tech is a factor. Hudson is moving the ball well, mixing the attack from the perimeter and occasionally attacking the basket. Tech leads at the half. Taking a break before starting the second half Darren Savino says, “Ray they don’t pay you guys enough.” The remark is made in reference to the heat and the fact the stands have a few “experts” willing to share their misguided opinion on virtually every call or no call.

Tech appears to be in control heading into the fourth quarter. The final eight minutes, they go into a scoring drought, and Hudson pulls ahead and seals the contest from the charity stripe. Eric Anderson of Tech led all scorers with 20 points. On the other side, Travis Flagg was a major difference for the Hawks, hitting a three down the stretch and icing the game from the line.

Following the game the Tech coach was none too happy complaining his team didn’t get to the line the second half. “We didn’t pay four hundred dollars to play here and not shoot a free throw,” he repeatedly said. We discussed the situation briefly and noted before his team went into a late game fouling mode, Hudson actually had more team fouls. Maybe Darren is right.

The final game of the night saw East Orange rout Bergenfield. It was a contest for a half, before the final 16 minutes saw the speed, transition and size of East Orange break this one open. Bergenfield plays in a league in Northern New Jersey. The coach admits the style is much different from what he faces at Hamilton. Each year he brings his kids down to “toughen them up” and expose them to a higher level of intensity than what they face each winter. And his kids compete, adapt and in the process get a few wins on their own behalf. In all it is a situation the coach feels is beneficial and teaches is team the commitment you need to excel.

FINISHING: Savino, who was on Fred Hill’s Rutgers staff, said he was close to accepting a similar position at FDU. He also noted former Rutgers aide Craig Carter went to Siena, Dennis Gregory, formerly of the Hoop Group was still unsettled and Jim Carr was retained by new Rutgers mentor Mike Rice.

Nick Mariniello is beginning his second year at Hudson. Mariniello had a great run at Bloomfield Tech, took a year off and then came on board last season at Hudson. I spoke with Mariniello during a grade school tournament at Hudson back last November. He said taking a year off was partially due to his father’s ill health. That situation has improved and after a year on the sideline going to games and seeing some of his former Bloomfield Tech players in action, such as St. Peter’s Wesley Jenkins and Da’Sean Butler of West Virginia, the urge to get back on the sideline was too enticing to resist.

Mariniello’s assistant who ran the team is Steve Ricciardi, who did a great job at High Tech High School in nearby North Bergen. Unfortunately, or it should be tragically, High Tech and Jersey City’s County Prep had their entire athletic department and sports eliminated due to budget cuts. Once again, well-deserving and needy youth get the short end of the politician’s deals.

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