JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Billy Armstrong played for Bob McKillop in the Nineties. A former Davidson guard, Armstrong swears by his former coach’s methods and style. So when the Bergen Catholic (NJ) High School coach was asked to direct the Hamilton Park All-Star team, a few considerations and challenges had to be addressed. There would be no practices and minimal preparation, in stark contrast to the McKillop philosophy of meticulous preparation and attention to detail. Armstrong did follow his college mentor’s example in one aspect, he sized up the situation at hand and adjusted.
“We had three pre-game priorities,” Armstrong said following Hamilton Park’s 95-82 victory over New York’s Team Eight Ball last week. “We told the kids to have fun out there. The second thing was the idea of help someone there by helping yourself. Too many times in all-star games kids try to do it alone, they don’t help each other and consequently don’t have fun.” The third objective was the reason both teams took the floor. “We reminded the kids they keep score in this game. Simply, play to win. Have fun but do the things necessary to win.”
A few of those things included rebounding on the offensive end and hustling for loose balls. There were turnovers, to be expected in a setting as this, but no helter-skelter paced possessions punctuated by poor decisions. “Overall,” Armstrong said, “I think we played smart on the offensive end.”
The Hamilton Park All-Stars were led by Hallice Cooke with 24 points. The St. Anthony’s senior guard took game scoring honors with proficiency on the perimeter and in penetrating the lane. Brian Frederici of Colts Neck added fourteen points including four trifectas. Hudson Catholic’s Reggie Cameron scored 17 points. The 6-7 forward definitely has more of a wing rather than power game. No knock, he’s very effective at what he does. Kevin Hill led Team Eight Ball with 18 points.
- Hamilton Park games are on the outdoor court at the park. The threat of rain dictated the game be moved inside to School Number Seven in the Heights Section of Jersey City.
- Prep evaluator par excellence Tom Konchalski took in league action the evening before.
- Post All-Star game saw Hamilton Park League Director Pat Devaney host teams, media, officials and some fans in a buffet at the school cafeteria.
- An outstanding officiating crew included Brian O’Connell of the Big East, A-10 and a few other conferences of note, Bonita Spence a WNBA and Big East veteran and Mike Napario.