Lyndhurst, NJ - The Summer saw Lyndhurst host a very successful league. To stay sharp and ready there is no ‘off season’. With that in mind another good circuit was held in Lyndhurst during the Fall. Perrin Mosca, the Lyndhurst Varsity boy’s coach who formerly headed the girls program, ran the league as he did in Summer. Each Sunday from October through the first one in November, the eight team league was held at the town Rec Center. There would be just the regular schedule with no playoffs. Jest an opportunity for players and teams to work on their game.
Nutley High School’s team had a unique situation. Many times in an off season league the head coach will observe while an assistant or someone very familiar with the program runs the show. In this case it was a parent. Of head coach Kara McNish. Her father, Jake McxNish, a long time successful and current boys coach at Weehawken High School directed the team. Kara sat just behind the bench occasionally making a suggestion. In final analysis, Jake made the substitutions and decisions.
Kara is the Red Raiders new head coach after serving seven years as an assistant. She played at Hawthorne (NJ) High School before continuing at the College Mount Saint Vincent, located right by Manhattan College.Mt.
On this afternoon Nutley was in the process of defeating Bergen Tech by a 33-19 count. She went on to say how much anticipation there was for the upcoming season. "We are in the (Essex County) SEC," she said. "This year they put us in the Liberty division." McNish terms the Liberty a bit more ‘doable’ for her program.
A lot of her girls play other sports at the Northern New Jersey school. The numbers in basketball though, are down. "We used to have a Freshman, JV and Varsity girls team," she said. "Now it’s just JV and Varsity. Some of that naturally was a result of Covid."
Dad Jake has been very supportive and worked well directing the Nutley girl;s team. Kara remembers with a laugh, "when I played in grammar school one time I complained to an official and got a technical. My dad wouldn’t talk to me for a week."
As we spoke a guard for Nutley wearing #5 caught my attention with her ability to penetrate while showing a very good basketball IQ. "Doesn’t surprise me" Kara McNish said regarding the latter point," as she does very well academically."
Fall league wins or losses aside. Kara sees the league as a great opportunity to get involved. "It keeps the girls active and ready for the (upcoming) season."
The game following Nutley’s saw host Lyndhurst face a difficult situation that sometimes arises with small schools. Lyndhurst had five players- one varsity, two JV and two incoming Freshman. The result was a 21-8 loss to Ridgefield Park.
Dorian Capuri, a former Ridgefield Park player who ran the Ridgefield Park team in the Summer and now in Fall could commiserate. "We are a small school too," she said. "If you miss a few girls with other commitments that makes it tough. The whole thing though is getting out here (with whom you have) and getting better."
Next time out, Lyndhurst had more depth with a better turnout, especially from the ranks of the varsity. The result was a 29-26 victory over Bergen Tech.
DePaul, a little larger school, did a great job on the defensive end. The Passaic County representatives trapped out of their 2-3 and got deflections Rick Pitino would be proud of. In half court offense and transition they were especially adept at making that extra pass.
Kearny played with four or five guards. The undersized Kards showed solid defensive aggressiveness that reflected the style of what they face nightly in their Hudson County matchups.
Interestingly, in one of their victories, the Kards were able to pull it off by owning the boards. Undersized but boxing out and being aggressive proved to be the difference.
Arguably one of the best games came during the final day of action. Ridgefield Park defeated a good Bloomfield High School team 50-41. The Lady Scarlets fought off two Bloomfield runs. Leading by 17 in the second half, Bloomfield cut the lead to four. Ridgefield Park responded, building the lead back to 12. Again, the Bengals whittled the deficit to five before Ridgefield park sealed the verdict.
Bloomfield was able to battle back utilizing their full court pressure. A team that improved each week, Ridgefield Park was able to maintain poise during both Bloomfield runs.
As much as pressure was bothersome, Ridgefield Park on occasion beat the press by passing. Too many teams resort to dribbling against pressure. Passing is the key.
In Mosca’s estimation choosing the best team would be difficult. "They were all evenly matched," he said. Forfeits, due to a team not having enough players, were at a minimum. In case of one team forfeiting, the other team would play an intrasquad scrimmage. Again, the emphasis was on getting playing time to prepare for a season with the first practice set for November 20th.