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Annual Blake Classic

Here's coverage of the annual Blake Classic highlighted by a doubleheader that feature two middle school teams. One of those teams, Allendale, is coached by former Providence College player Pam Healy Costello.

Pam Healy Costello, a former Providence College player with two of her Allendale girls.
Pam Healy Costello, a former Providence College player with two of her Allendale girls.
Ray Floriani

ALLENDALE, NJ - The last two assignments in the annual Blake Classic called for girls doubleheaders. The season has just started here in the Garden State, yet there are teams one can identify as candidates for honors in their respective leagues.

Saturday December 6th:

6th Grade:

Ho Ho Kus          31

Allendale            9

The Allendale girls did run some nice zone offense but the opposition size and overall shooting ability was too much. Ho Ho Kus led 18-4 at the break and was never really threatened.

7th Grade:

Oakland              13

Rutherford          26

Rutherford and Oakland both struggled to score early. Gradually the Rutherford team pulled out to a 12-5 halftime lead. With the scarcity of points that seven point difference felt like 20. The second half they were in control and actually played a bit better on the offensive end.

Sunday December 7th:

8th Grade:

Oakland              26

Allendale            34

The Oakland coach thought he was facing Allendale's ‘B' team. A clerical mistake was made, it was actually the ‘A' team. As Gordon Chiesa a longtime NBA assistant and friend often said, ‘welcome to coaching'.

Oakland did a nice job battling and left the floor tied at fourteen at the half. Allendale, with their size, got out to a 10-0 run to start the second half and were basically in control. They lead 30-20 after three quarters and finished out a hard fought victory.

6th Grade:

Midland Park     14

Ho Ho Kus          19

This strong Ho Ho Kus group built a 15-5 lead by the half. Midland Park struggled to score the first half. In the second half Midland Park found the range and had a much better offensive showing. Ho Ho Kus was never really in danger while their opposition left the game feeling much better about their future prospects.

Added observations:

*       In the Blake Tournament the fifth grade division can only press the last two minutes of each half and the pressing team must not have a lead of ten or more points. Good idea. All the other divisions, sixth grade through eighth, can press. Again the margin or lead by the pressing team cannot be in double digits.

*       Nice to see the teams running some sets. The main issue is not overloading them at an early age. Teach them a man and zone offense and the same on defense. Rather than try to execute by rote memorization of plays it is better to read the opposing offense or defense and adjust. Learning how to play. Those who truly learn are recipients of the best coaching.

*       The final score, especially on these levels, cannot always be indicative of the coaching teams receive. Are they improving? If the team, beaten soundly in the Blake in December, is more competitive as Valentine's Day nears, that's coaching.

*       Speaking of coaching...the Allendale eighth grade girls have an assistant who has been with the program, "since these kids were in third grade." Pam Healy Costello is a former Providence College player, lending her teaching expertise and experience to the Allendale girls for about six seasons. Most of the time, if not all, Costello has not been the head coach but an extremely valuable assistant. She played in the late Eighties for Bob Foley, now a member of the Providence College Hall of Fame.

"Doris Sable, now she's Burke was one of our assistants," Costello recalled. "Now she (Burke) is doing NBA games on television." When asked who was the toughest Big east opponent back in her day she replied, "UCONN. They weren't at the dominant national level as now but they were really good. Geno (Auriemma) was just getting it going."