Jersey City, NJ - Stay around long enough and it is bound to happen.
But that is the nice thing about the game, specifically women's and/or girls basketball. Running into someone you met a season or decade ago. The renewing acquaintances with a person connected with the, not too distant, past. An enjoyable experience as both parties reflect on days gone by. Such was the unexpected pleasure from the past week at the Jersey City League.
Tuesday July 24:
Bayonne 47 McNair 23
McNair battled even in the early going before Bayonne's transition just took over. Part of McNair's problem was scoring. They were down 18-5 at the half. They did come on and play better offensively the last twenty minutes but never seriously challenged Bayonne.
St. Dominic's 27 Ferris 22
Closely fought, competitive contest. Not artistic but you had to admire how both teams got after it. Ferris had a one point lead in the stretch before St. Dominc's went on a late spurt. A number 15 shot well from the perimeter for the victors. In fact, 15 attempted a few NBA range threes. I asked if her coach allows that shot selection in the regular season. "Yeah, sometimes," was her light hearted reply. The ‘sometimes' is probably reserved for the occasions when the ball goes in.
Thursday July 26:
Lincoln 33 St. Dominic's 25
St. Dominic's battled a taller Lincoln team gamely. Relying on the perimeter game kept the Blue Devils in the thick of things. That Lincoln size plus the ability to push the ball and penetrate proved the deciding factor.
Lincoln 50 Hudson Catholic 20
The Lady Lions of Lincoln bounced right back to take the floor for a second consecutive game of the night. Interestingly, it was Hudson feeling the fatigue. Lincoln was able to go about ten deep while their opposition had just five players. Given Lincoln's ability to push the ball in transition, Hudson was noticeably fatigued the final half.
Of note....Ferris played competitively in their loss to St. Dominic's on Tuesday. They showed more focus and energy largely due to the presence of head coach Noelle Carter. In previous Ferris games officiated by yours truly, Carter was absent and an assistant ran the team. Carter on the sidelines made a difference.
Hearing the name Noelle Carter jogged the memory. Turns out she played on a few New Jersey Tournament of Champions teams at St. Vianney in the late 90s. After that, she played at Wagner College in the Northeast Conference. Worked a few of her Vianney games at a team camp. We both recalled a certain game one Fall at Staten Island. Vianney was facing Piscataway, a New Jersey power, featuring Asjha Jones - yes that Asjha Jones who needs no introduction.
At the time Theresa Grentz had moved from Rutgers to take the coaching job at Illinois. Piscataway High School is about two miles from the Rutgers Athletic Center. Regardless, the Piscataway team took the court warming up in Illinois sweat shirts.
"I remember that so vividly," Carter said. "I just couldn't believe it when I saw them coming out I n Illinois gear."
For the record, Vianney won that contest.
Today Carter is working hard but has an uphill battle at Jersey City based Ferris. A power in the nineties, the program has hit hard times and the talent pool is light years removed from what Carter teamed with at Vianney. Well connected, she includes the New York Liberty's Cappie Pondexter as "a good friend", Carter coaches by encouraging her kids and looking to correct, not belittle, mistakes.
"Give us four years," Carter says before heading off to meet with her team. "Then we will have something going and be much better as a program."