By Warren Rappleyea
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s girls basketball team has parlayed a deep and talented roster into a 19-6 record and a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.
The second-seeded Lady Bulldogs battled Manasquan High School down to the wire and into overtime in the semifinals before falling, 61-58, Feb. 22 at Brookdale Community College. Rumson-Fair Haven went into the half with a 30-25 edge. The Warriors cut the lead to three points after three quarters.
The two teams battled throughout the fourth quarter, with Manasquan going in front, 50-49, on a Dara Mabrey 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining. The Warriors then fouled Nicole Morris, who led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points. The junior stepped to the line and sank one of her two free throws to knot the score and send the game into an extra session.
Manasquan (20-6) outscored Rumson-Fair Haven, 11-8, in the overtime to move on to the finals, where they fell to St. John Vianney High School, 59-48, Feb. 27. Tori Hyduke scored 11 points and Hannah Scanlan added 10 points for the Lady Bulldogs against the Warriors.
“It was a fantastic game — two good teams going back and forth,” Rumson-Fair Haven coach George Sourlis said. “I’m very proud of our girls. They gave it their all.”
Rumson-Fair Haven split its regular-season games against Manasquan, taking a 39-37 decision Jan. 22 with Scanlan’s layup with seconds remaining making the difference. The Lady Bulldogs also downed Red Bank Catholic High School, 60-44, thanks to Sydney Sabino’s season-high 18-point.
Rumson-Fair Haven was scheduled to square off against 13th-seeded Bordentown Regional High School (13-12) in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group II tournament March 1. The Lady Bulldogs earned the fourth seed.
Sourlis’ team has been on a tremendous run since dropping its first four games of the season to Manasquan, St. John Vianney, Rutgers Preparatory School and Gill St. Bernard’s School. Once the Lady Bulldogs picked up their first win, a 50-41 decision against Franklin High School, things fell into place quickly.
Rumson-Fair Haven ran off eight successive wins before dropping a 55-40 game to St. John Vianney Jan. 26. Sourlis’ team bounced back with a victory over Shore Regional High School to start a 10-game winning streak that went through the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Eleven different players scored for the Lady Bulldogs in a 58-31 opening-round victory over Toms River High School South. Sabino and Katie Foos led the way with nine points each, while Steph Lesko and Hyduke added eight points each.
Lesko scored 12 points, while Scanlan and Hyduke contributed 10 points apiece, in Rumson-Fair Haven’s 52-26 quarterfinal success against Neptune High School.
Scanlan averages just over 11 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs in scoring. Hyduke, Lesko, Morris, Sabino and Foos are all averaging about eight points each.