Rumson-Fair Haven girls’ hoops loaded up for another strong season

Rumson-Fair Haven girls' basketball player Cortland McBarron dribbles the ball at the top of the key during the team's tri-scrimmage on Dec. 14. McBarron was the team's leading-scorer last season.

Success and championships have been apart of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School girls’ basketball team’s DNA for over a decade—and that will be the case again this season for the Bulldogs.

Led by returners Lucy Adams, Sophia Passalaqua and Cortland McBarron, and a host of talented newcomers to the program, Rumson-Fair Haven is loaded up for another strong winter after going 19-7 last season with fourth-year coach Dave Callahan at the helm. 

“Our goals don’t change,” Callahan said. “Our goals are to always win our division, win sectionals, win groups and make it to the Tournament of Champions. We don’t change our goals. Our kids believe they can do this. Even though we’ve lost a few great players, our goals don’t change.”

McBarron returns after leading the team in scoring and assists last season during her sophomore campaign.

The very talented two-sport athlete, will play in multiple roles for the Bulldogs with her ability to shoot, drive and play great defense. McBarron’s best quality in the eyes of Callahan is not getting flustered when she is out on the court and how that speaks to how good of a player she is.

Passalaqua returns to the Bulldogs’ backcourt after a solid junior season from behind the arch, knocking down 37 three-pointers last winter. The senior is a team captain this season and will anchor the Rumson-Fair Haven defense.

Down in the frontcourt, Rumson-Fair Haven will be led by Adams who was a force in the paint on both the offensive and defensive end during the 2018-2019 season.

The 6-1 Trinity College commit, racked up 248 rebounds, 57 blocked shots and 65 steals to go along with being the Bulldogs’ third leading scorer.

“She’s a down and dirty player,” Callahan said on Adams. “She boxes out and rebounds. She does all the little things right.”

McBarron, Passalaqua and Adams give Rumson-Fair Haven three of its top-four scorers back from last season.

The Bulldogs lost their second-leading scorer from last year, Grace Munt, for the entire 2019-2020 season after the junior suffered an injury during the preseason.

Rumson-Fair Haven will also be without junior forward Chase Boyle for the entire season. Boyle led the team in steals last year and is regarded as one of the best defenders in the Shore Conference.

Sophomore Charlie Rosen has missed most of the preseason due to an illness, but is finally feeling better and is expected back soon said Callahan. Rosen finished fifth on the team in scoring as a freshman last year for the Bulldogs.

Despite the injuries costing the Bulldogs to not have all five of their starters back from last season, the team has a bunch of talented newcomers that are ready to step up for the squad this winter.

A big pickup in the offseason for Rumson-Fair Haven was senior guard Paige Slaven, who transferred into the district this year from Donovan Catholic High School. Slaven helped Donovan Catholic go 21-7 last season by leading the team in assists and finishing as the team’s second-leading scorer.

Slaven has played lights out in the preseason said Callahan and is expected to be a huge piece to the Bulldogs’ success this season.

In addition to Slaven, Rumson Fair-Haven has a lot of talented freshmen that joined the program for the upcoming season, starting with Julia Corsentino.

A natural scorer, Corsentino has plugged her way into the starting lineup to begin the season with her ability to shoot the ball from the outside said Callahan.

Julia Shanes is another freshman that will see a lot of time this season in the backcourt for Rumson-Fair Haven.

Both Corsentino and Shanes played great in the team’s tri-scrimmage against Morris Catholic High School and Marist High School of Bayonne held in Rumson on Dec. 14. Each freshman hit a couple big three-pointers during the scrimmage, including one of Corsentino’s that she knocked in from the corner to beat the buzzer against Morris Catholic.

Molly Kelly, Sarah Hughes and Dylan Cahill are all freshmen that are expected to make an impact this season for the Bulldogs.

“The nice thing is that all our players can plan different positions,” Callahan said. “We have an incredibly deep freshmen class. We’re fortunate to have kids that come out of these two small towns that are very athletic. They’re smart, coachable and they work hard.”

Unlike last year, the main focus for Callahan and Bulldogs as they prepare for their season opener on the road against Monmouth Regional High School on Dec. 20, will be to fine tune their defense.

One huge element the team already possesses that will help them throughout the season is its great team chemistry.

“We have incredible team chemistry,” Callahan said. “Everybody gets along. Everybody supports each other. If one kid is player great, everybody is cheering for her. That’s our biggest benefit.”

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