The Judges boys’ basketball coach was unfairly suspended for two playoff games for throwing the runner-up plaque after his club’s controversial Queens title game loss to rival Bayside. A clear foul wasn’t called on an Omar Williams three-pointer with Cardozo down just one with seconds left to play.
Coach Ron Naclerio sat out the Judges’ overtime win over Kennedy in the second round of the PSAL AA city playoffs and its heartbreaking 64-60 overtime loss to Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals Saturday. His players wanted him there.
“I’m really disappointed in the PSAL after all the years he’s given to them that made the PSAL stronger,” senior guard Kyle Credle said.
The over-excitable and high-energy coach paid too big a price for losing his cool in a moment of frustration. Naclerio didn’t fling the plaque violently. The sound of it hitting the hardwood floor was still unmistakable and he got into a short yelling match with a PSAL official afterward.
People have gotten less for doing worse. Simply being ejected from the contest would have cost him just one game by league rules. That would have been fair.
“For him not to be here for [the senior’s] last game is a little hard,” said red-eyed Cardozo assistant Coach Michael Blisset.
Two weeks ago, Naclerio had scouted Jefferson while Cardozo took on Kennedy. That day he got intermittent updates about his team’s game. He spent that evening listening to music and praying Our Fathers and the Prayer for Surrender on his drive from East New York to a function at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Manhattan. Later that night, he received a text saying Cardozo had won, allowing him to celebrate in the street.
On Saturday, Naclerio spent the day at home watching former Judges star James Southerland and Syracuse play Louisville. He cut off all communication about the quarterfinal.
This time when he turned on his phone, he saw that his team had not found success on the court. Still, his admiration for his kids was the same.
“I’m very proud,” Naclerio said. “There might not be a better way to lose.”
The Cardozo players did everything they could to extend their season. The Judges raced out to a 19-2 lead in the second quarter, only to see it wither away. Defeat in regulation seemed certain, but a late tip and a block in by Danny Janel forced overtime. Omar Williams couldn’t get a potential tying three-pointer to go down in the extra session.
“We are better than what people say,” Credle said. “Even though we went down, we went down with a fight.”
The Judges didn’t leave with the win or their coach back, but they earned the respect they were looking for.
©2013 Community News Group
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