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'Learn the trade before you learn the tricks'

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Two girls travel games are on tap at the Maywood Middle School. Maywood is located right near Hackensack (yes it is a real place not just a mention in the Billy Joel song), which is not far from New York City.

MAYWOOD, NJ - This past Sunday afternoon the visiting Paramus team is ready and loosened up for the 6th grade game.

We are waiting on home Maywood who had an earlier game in a tournament. Talking with the Paramus coach, I made mention on how this league was very wise not to let the girls press on this level until the last two minutes of each half. She was in agreement but felt they should be allowed to press a little more. I believe at that age there should be no pressing. Let the kids learn the half court game and used the classic Lawrence Frank line, "Learn the trade before you learn the tricks."

Maywood 27, Paramus 9

Paramus had the size in this one but was very raw. Maywood faced a zone and essentially had two players who can put it on the floor, get out in transition and hit close in shots (a luxury on this level). They enjoyed a 16-5 lead at the half.

Following the break, Maywood continued to dominate. With two minutes to play, Paramus trailed 25-9. The Paramus coach ordered the press. Down 16 with two to go? On this level, the press is not going to get you back. Thankfully, when Maywood broke the press they chose to pull the ball out and kill the clock.

A good win for Maywood, coming off a tournament loss in the morning.

Maywood 40, West Milford 36

Partner Bill Finnegan is an officiating friend who does a solid job. Bill went to the high school (St. Cecilia's of Englewood, NJ) where one Vince Lombardi once roamed the sidelines. Saints is closed now but given those roots, Bill loves football. He is a devout Jets fan but on this afternoon, the concentration is basketball.

In a close eighth grade game, we had a close contest. West Milford enjoyed a 15-11 lead after a first half with several lead and momentum changes.

West Milford is using a 1-3-1 three quarter court trapping press. Maywood had some trouble breaking it early but the second half sees the utilizing more patience and getting good opportunities against it. The West Milford coach likes the percentages and doesn't mind his kids hoisting up three point attempts. To little surprise, his daughter, is attempting a number of shots beyond the arc.

In a game that went to the waning minutes, Maywood hangs on for the victory. A good afternoon. The only drawback, no heat in the gym on a rather chilly day. For Bill's Jets, the next night they would have the type of game, can say, we officiated a lot better than we played.

This is written at halftime and between games of a boy's high school freshman and JV doubleheader. The JV game in particular raises the issue of a mercy rule in sub varsity games. In New Jersey there is no such rule in basketball, though football has one. Hudson Catholic is handily defeating Hoboken (Hudson eventually won 93-38). They press from the beginning and do not ease the pressure until being up 47 with two minutes left in the third quarter. A mercy rule might allow games of 20-25 points say, to have a running clock after halftime. Games, like the one we did, see the losing team frustrated as the score mounts and the game extends due to stoppages on whistles.

Yes, a mercy rule is in order. For the girls as well as the boys game So is a little cooperation from a coach whose team is enjoying the substantial lead. No need to be pressing after halftime when your edge is forty something. And counting.