|1965 Bridgewater / Raritan High School Basketball Championship Game March 27th 1965
|Championship Game vs Bloomfield at Atlantic City Convention Hall Attendence 10,000
| The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing for both players and fans. Steve Fulop said in a 1980 interview.:
There were 10,000 people there. I remember coming out of the locker room and walking through all these people just to get to the court. And then we got out there and just looked around. What a feeling.
|The championship game was to be held at Convention Hall in Atlantic City. The residents of Bridgewater and Raritan were all the rage about their high school’s team. The game was held on a Saturday evening which allowed thousands of local people the opportunity to trek down to Atlantic City. Dozens of buses were booked to bring the crowd to the game. On that Saturday afternoon downtown Raritan was deserted as business owners and residents packed up for Atlantic City. With thousands arriving early in the day for the evening game many met each other there. Local sportswriter Nap Torpey described the scene “With beautiful weather both Saturday and Sunday, the Atlantic City boardwalk looked like Somerset Street in Raritan or the Somerville Shopping Center. A person couldn’t walk 20 steps without seeing a Somerset Countyite soaking up the sun while strolling along the beachfront. A great many who made the trip Saturday stayed over and returned Sunday afternoon.”
The championship game, like several previous games, saw the Falcons of Bridgewater – Raritan High School fall behind early in the game. At the end of the first quarter they trailed 18-13. They would rally back to even the score. As the game progressed, the lead changed hands several times. Going into the fourth quarter Bloomfield led by 2. But at the start of the fourth quarter Andy Martin hit two free throws and Mike Janczewski hit a short jumper to take Bloomfield’s lead away for good. Bloomfield did threaten late in the game as they closed the score to 3 points with 2:19 remaining. Then Bloomfield came down on a 2 on 1 fast break with only Steve Fulop back. Bloomfield appeared to play the 2 on 1 to perfection as a pass underneath allowed the shooter to avoid the lone defender and take an easy shot from under the basket. However, from seemingly out of nowhere, Mike Grosso who had been charging back blocked the shot. Coach Joe Fisher said “There’s no question about it. That play was the big one. If the kid made the shot we’d have just a one point lead.” The Falcons retained the ball and their opponents needed to foul to stop the clock. But it was Mike Grosso that they had to foul and he hit 5 straight foul shots in the final 2 minutes to keep Bridgewater – Raritan safety ahead. As the clock ticked down the Bridgewater-Raritan fans started going insane in the stands and when the final buzzer rang there was a state of pandemonium. Many ran on the court. Mike Grosso swung the coach around like a top. Many players, coaches, and fans hugged each other. As a final gesture, the 12 players carried their coach off the court.
The final score was 63-55. Grosso led all scorers with 28 points. This game was a bit unique for him as half of those points were from the foul line as the Bloomfield defense choose to guard him tight resulting in numerous fouls. And as it had been in each tournament game for the Falcons one player rose to the occasion to play their best game. For the final, it was Andy Martin who had his best game scoring 19 points. The defensive standout was Rich Doyle. Bloomfield star Welle had scored 15 points in the first half. At halftime coach Fisher, always the strategist, assigned Rich Doyle to guard Welle. Doyle responded successfully as he held Welle to just 2 points in the second half.
That night many of the people from Bridgewater and Raritan who had traveled to the game partied liked champions in Atlantic City. But most of the players, emotionally exhausted after their intense playoff run, simply stayed in the hotel and played cards together.
Local Sportswriters Nap Torpey and Joe Calabrese,
who had followed the team all year, had court side seats.
Nap Torpey wrote a nice article - click to view