The Hudson River League, the other new circuit, enjoyed equal first-year success, sparked by a great race between two of the most famous teams of the era, the Paterson Crescents and the Troy Trojans. The Crescents were organized in 1902 and performed virtually intact for the next ten seasons. The team depended on a well-balanced attack built around John McNabb, Harry Wallum, and big Frank Hill. The Trojans, who featured 6’1″ center Ed Wachter, his brother Lew, and Bill Hardman, had performed together for seven seasons. Ed Wachter was a towering figure, physically and influentially, in professional basketball. He was responsible for two important basketball innovations, the bounce pass and the fast break. Before then, passing consisted of short tosses caught on the fly by the receivers. The bounce pass introduced by Wachter’s Trojans was a major offensive breakthrough.
Paterson led the standings by a small margin for almost the entire season; however, the Crescents’ decision to also play in the Eastern League proved to be a mistake. The strain of playing in two leagues simultaneously eventually took its toll, and Troy nosed them out at the wire. A late season game in Paterson was critical to the outcome of the season. At the end of the first half, the Crescents led 20-10, an enormous lead in a low-scoring era. As the teams trotted onto the court for the start of the second half, some Paterson supporters prematurely unfurled a huge banner that proclaimed the Crescents as the 1910 champions of the Hudson River Basketball League. The Trojans responded to the premature celebration with fury, and proceeded to shut out Paterson in the second half to gain a 20-20 tie and then go on to win the game and the championship in overtime. Years later, Ed Wachter recalled the game as the most satisfying victory of his long career. The financial success of the HRL excelled any pro league to date largely due to playing in modern, comfortable state armories. Crowds of over 4,000, considered huge at the time, attended some contests.