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MIDDLETOWN – One way for the Rumson-Fair Haven boys basketball team to combat the defensive attention being thrown by opponents at junior guard and leading scorer Brendan Barry was for the other four players on the court to knock down open shots, but the secret to the Bulldogs’ success over their three Shore Conference Tournament games involves preventing shots as much as it involves making them.

Rumson continued its defensive dominance as the No. 11 seed during the tournament by halting third-seeded Freehold Township, 54-43, to advance to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time since finishing as the tournament runner-up in 2011.

“We have four seniors on the team and we’ve been playing together for a while and have always wanted to be able to do this before we graduated,” senior Alex Geiger said. “We’ve had guys from the 2011 team come back, like Luke Glass, who was here today. A lot of us followed that team and saw what they accomplished and we wanted to blaze a trail of our own and experience it for ourselves.”

Brendan Barry scored 19 points to help lead Rumson past Freehold Township and back to the SCT semifinals for the first time in four years. (Photo by Larry Murphy, Sports Pix NJ)

Barry shook free of the defense to score 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Senior Morgan Maguire, a recent addition to the starting lineup after he missed time earlier in the season with a back ailment and came off the bench upon his return in early January, added eight of his 12 points in the first half while Geiger knocked down two open 3-pointers and finished with 10 points.

“Everybody feeds off (Barry) and defenses have obviously been keying in a lot on him this year,” Maguire said. “Lately, we’ve been putting in some offenses that are getting open looks for other guys, and we’ve been able to make enough to keep teams honest.”

The Bulldogs shot just 5-for-19 from behind the three-point line Saturday and outside of Barry, the team was 2-for-12 from behind the arc, with Geiger hitting both shots. Rumson atoned for its pedestrian shooting game by limiting Freehold Township to 14-for-49 shooting (28.6 percent) overall and 1-for-11 from three-point range while also forcing 14 Patriots turnovers.

“Against Freehold Township, in particular, we know their guards were tough and they were slashers and more mid-range guys,” Rumson coach Chris Champeau said. “So we wanted to step off of them and sort of play a pack line and sort of dare them to hit some threes. Outside of a couple rotations, our guys played it perfectly.”

While Barry, Maguire, Geiger and Thomas Famulary (nine points) led the offensive charge for Rumson, freshman Elijah McAllister anchored the Bulldogs defensive effort. The 6-foot-6 rookie came off the bench to grab eight rebounds and block five shots in 20 minutes of action. In addition to holding Freehold Township to one three-point shot, McAllister kept the Patriots uncomfortable in the paint when he was in the game.

“About 10 games ago, I started giving him about 20 minutes a game, and he’s been creating so many problems in the middle,” Champeau said of McAllister. “That’s something we really didn’t have before. He’s like our DeAndre Jordan.”

“Elijah was awesome,” Maguire said. “Even against (Red Bank in the round of 16), he had a couple big blocks to help us protect the lead. He has been huge for us. Without him, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Rumson took control of the game with a 13-0 run during the late stages of the first quarter and into second, turning a 10-6 deficit into a 19-10 lead. Barry keyed the run with five points, while Maguire added four and Geiger hit the second of his two threes.

“It’s all about hitting some shots,” Barry said. “When guys hit shots, it really spreads out the defense and opens things up for the offense. Today, Morgan did a great job getting to the rim, Alex Geiger hit some big shots, (Famulary) was big, too. A lot of guys contributed and that made us harder to guard.”

Freehold Township chipped the Bulldogs' lead down to 24-23 early in the third quarter, but Rumson again stretched its lead with a 16-3 run to close the third quarter and take a 40-26 lead into the fourth. Barry and Famulary each scored six points during the run, with Barry hitting two threes near the end of the run. Barry also through a no-look pass while falling to the ground, which Famulary ran down and took in for a breakaway lay-up. Rumson then built its lead as high as 16 points during the third quarter.

Tyree Wilson led Freehold Township with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Dan Saunders dropped in 10 in the loss. Senior Kyle Czajkowski, who spent a significant amount of his playing time guarding Barry, injured his right wrist on a fall to the floor early in the third quarter. The athletic trainer on site feared a broken bone in two places in the wrist, according to Patriots assistant coach Todd Smith. It was the same wrist Czajkowski injured during the preseason, an injury that sidelined the senior guard for four games.

In its first Shore Conference semifinal appearance in four years, Rumson will take on No. 10 Neptune in a battle of double-digit seeds looking to crash the championship game on Friday at Monmouth University. Neptune defeated Point Pleasant Beach, 52-35, Saturday – the same margin of victory by which Rumson-Fair Haven defeated Point Beach during the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase.

“It’s going to start on the defensive end,” Barry said. “Their guards are very quick, so we’re going to have to contain them and protect to the paint again. We’ll have Elijah to do that.”

“We saw we got an 11 seed in the tournament and we almost took that as a positive because we like playing that underdog role,” Geiger said. “It worked four years ago (as the 13 seed), and we hope we feel like we have a similar vibe.”


Box Score

Rumson-Fair Haven 54, Freehold Twp. 43






Rumson-Fair Haven (20-4)






Freehold Twp. (17-6)







Rumson-Fair Haven (54): Brendan Barry 5 6-8 19, Thomas Famulary 4 1-2 9, Morgan Maguire 3 6-6 12, Jack Luby 0 0-0 0, Alex Geiger 2 4-8 10, Mickey Schluter 0 2-2 2, Elijah McCallister 1 0-2 2, Kenny Ferrare 0 0-0 0, Jackson Reid 0 0-0 0, Morales 0 0-0 0, McDermott 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 19-28 54

Three-pointers: Barry 3, Geiger 2

Freehold Twp. (43): Nick Facendo 3 0-0 6, Jason Czajkowski 1 1-2 3, Dan Saunders 2 5-8 10, Tyree Wilson 4 4-5 12, Kyle Czajkowski 1 1-1 3, C.J. Stenftennagel 0 0-2 0, Mike Staklinski 1 3-4 5, A.J. Hardy 1 0-0 2, Terrence Burdge 0 0-0 0, Brandon Tajfel 1 0-0 2, Austin Ramos 0 0-0 0, John Carroll 0 0-0 0, Tyler Van Nessen 0 0-0 0, Stephen Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 14-22 43

Three-pointers: Saunders