Rumson wins in Boardwalk Showcase
As George Sourlis continues to get a read on his young Rumson team, he reminds himself to be tolerant and patient.
The six freshmen he’s entrusted with extended minutes have proven they can handle the workload. They may have already exceeded expectations with the poise and production they provided against a rather daunting schedule.
And, what of Jess Harvey, the junior thrust into the responsibility of running the offense? All she’s done is instantly bloom before the revered coach’s eyes, playing so smart and exhibiting such brashness driving inside, she has to be considered one of the most improved players in the Shore Conference, if not the entire state.
But, the weight of trying to contain a Neptune squad which entered Sunday’s showdown with undefeated, ranked 11th in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15 and with dynamics of great concern, compounded with his questions of whether his team could manage all the responsibilities necessary to contain such an explosive opponent, well, it proved too much for Sourlis, resulting in him blurting out a four-letter word usually deemed completely inappropriate around his program.
“You don’t hear me use that word too much,” Sourlis said. ``We wanted to make sure they didn’t get the ball in the paint. (Sophomore Iyonna) Crenshaw is a force inside. She is physical and has great touch away from the basket. We wanted to guard the post with multiple kids”
Rumson seemed rather comfortable in such a foreign defensive posture, neutralizing Neptune’s speed, denying it space to utilize that quickness and, forgive the thought, giving Sourlis reason to ponder the idea of slipping into the scheme a little more often following a 40-29 triumph on Sunday at The Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase in Long Branch.
By compacting his defense, Sourlis was able to address needs beyond the primary issues. Against Jackson on Wednesday, another team that can play quick to the hoop, Rumson was overwhelmed on the glass, something that had to be avoided against Neptune.
“We made that a point of emphasis,” Sourlis said. “Jackson destroyed us on the glass. We’re a work in progress and we’re going to keep getting better.”
Rumson’s intent to limit high-percentage shots and second-chance opportunities hit its intended mark as Neptune endured a 2 for 23 shooting spell in the first half. Harvey dropped in eight of her 12 points before the break, punctuated by a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer that sent Rumson into the locker room with a 22-14 lead.
A 3-pointer from Casey Weis, runner from Emma Miller and short jumper by Nikki Armstromg closed out a 14-0 run that bridged the second and third quarters and pushed Rumson to its largest lead, 29-14, with 3:50 left in the third.
Neptune, who has hampered by foul trouble, cut into the deficit with a burst of seven straight points to finish the third and narrow the gap to 29-21. Amerisse Rogers accounted for four points in the tear. But, Neptune managed to connect on just one of the 14 shots it fired in the fourth as Rumson rebuilt its cushion back up to as much as 15 before settling for the final margin.
“We have a huge bench and every one of our players can play hard,” said Harvey, who netted a game-high 12 points to go with three assists. “When we started closing floor on them, it picked things up for us.”
Nahja Carter went 8 for 8 from the foul line en route to leading Neptune with 10 points. The senior guard also collected seven steals and five rebounds.
Blair 50, St. John Vianney 52: Bre Cavanaugh erupted for 15 of the first 19 points and teammate Batouly Camara dropped in a putback midway through the seconds quarter to give Blair (8-1) a 21-20 lead it never relinquished at The Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase. Cavanaugh finished with a game-high 17 points and Bridget Ryan added 10. St. John Vianney, ranked fourth, received 15 points from Kat Egan and 11 more from Becky Pund.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner