Commentary: Every second can count on court

COMMENTARY - Tom Robinson
- Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
- Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch

YATESVILLE – They were just 56.2 seconds of basketball.

The last 56.2 seconds of a game that did not go the way the Pittston Area Lady Patriots wanted.

Brooklyn Pedana was not going to let them go to waste.

A junior guard who gets most of her playing time in junior varsity games, Pedana was still playing hard with a loss to rival Wyoming Area a certainty in the Jan. 29 Tigue-Denisco Game.

And, coach Kathy Healey was still paying attention.

Pedana played hard and played effectively, scoring five points in the 57-43 loss. She got her coach’s attention.

Two nights later, Pittston Area, then a losing team at 7-8, was handing Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 champion Holy Redeemer one of just three losses it suffered this season. Pedana played more minutes and more meaningful minutes in a close game when Healey needed another ballhandler she could trust.

“It was absolutely the best game we played all year,” Healey said at the time in what became the first of seven wins in eight games going into Saturday’s district semifinal. “Brooklyn came off the bench and handled the ball very well and she had two points, which might not seem like much, but it was a critical point in the game.”

The fact that Pedana found herself in a “critical point in the game” against a championship team is directly related to her performance when it did not seem to matter so much.

One of my least favorite terms in sports and one that is used in basketball is “garbage time.” It describes those minutes not important to the outcome of a game, at least the win-loss part of the outcome.

If the term has any meeting, it is certainly only at a higher level, perhaps when an NBA team is finishing up one of its 82 games.

Those late moments on the high school and lower levels, however, can be precious.

As the clock is winding down in a game that appears to be decided, dedicated senior reserves may get their chance to play.

And, players, like Pedana, trying to show their coach that they are ready for more prime-time opportunities now or in the near future have a chance to make an impression.

Pedana doesn’t get to help Pittston Area to a big win if she doesn’t take the last minute of the Wyoming Area game seriously.

“That had everything to do with her getting a shot,” Healey said. “She went in during the second quarter the next game.”

It’s one of the reasons I hate to see the trend overtaking the end of basketball games.

The equivalent of football’s kneel-down is beginning to run rampant.

More games are ending with one team holding the ball out near midcourt and players from the other team standing, even starting to wander off the court with the clock still running. And, each year, the “end” seems to begin a few seconds sooner.

The trend crept into the game just a few years ago with winning teams occasionally stopping for the final few seconds.

With just a couple of clicks left on the clock, it seemed to make sense for the winning team not to go for one more 3-pointer, dunk or other unnecessary attempt to add points against a beaten opponent. And, it’s helpful for the losing team to know it’s time to stop fouling when there is no hope of that strategy working out.

But, it has gone too far.

The non-compete pause at the end of the game is starting earlier and earlier.

Last weekend’s WVC Division 2 girls championship ended 42 seconds before it was over, with both teams awkwardly standing around while the clock ran.

“I’m obviously old school,” Healey said. “Even at the end of the game when there’s 10 seconds left and they just stand and dribble out the clock and the defense walks off the floor, that aggravates me.

“It’s awful. I said to my kids, ‘this is my pet peeve, you’re playing for me, you’re going to shoot the ball’. … We’re going to need this sometime down the road in a close game. You’re going to need to make a shot and we’re going to practice it. This is what we play the game for.”

Starters can still play basketball in the last minute of a decided game without embarrassing or beating each other up. And, by all means, those players who get less playing time should be encouraged to go all out in every second they have.

This is one modern trend that is doing nothing to help the game. Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch


Tom Robinson

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

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Video Caption: The Holy Redeemer Girls Basketball team celebrates its win over Nanticoke in the WVC Division 2 Championship game
Video Credit: Tom Robinson for Sunday Dispatch
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