Jersey Shore Challenge

Wednesday, Jan. 31

At Collins Arena, Brookdale Community College

Girls: Rumson-Fair Haven (12-4) vs. Roselle Catholic (12-3), 4:30 p.m.

Boys: No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven (13-1) vs. No. 9 Red Bank Catholic (13-4), 6 p.m.


Ticket info - Update, 9:23 a.m.: All remaining tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 3:30 p.m.. A portion of the proceeds collected Wednesday will be donated to the Joan Dancy and PALS Foundation, which benefits people and families battling ALS.


Rumson-Fair Haven has become a hotbed for Shore Conference basketball and both the girls and boys teams will get to put that on display on Wednesday night at one of the Shore area’s best basketball venues.

The two Bulldogs teams will play a double-header at Collins Arena on the campus of Brookdale Community College – the first two games of a triple-header at the first ever Jersey Shore Challenge showcase event. The Lady Bulldogs will kick off the event at 4:30 p.m. with a showdown against Roselle Catholic and the boys will follow with a rivalry game against Red Bank Catholic that pits two teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

Although the boys and girls teams at Rumson are both currently settled in as top Shore Conference programs, both took different journeys to get there and have plenty of distinctions now that they are there.

Rumson’s girls has been established for a long time thanks, in large part, to former coach George Sourlis. During his 30 years as head coach, Sourlis won more than 600 games and led the Bulldogs to 14 NJSIAA sectional championships and five group championships.

The Sourlis Era started with him coaching his sister, Virginia, who remains the program’s all-time leading scorer. The Bulldogs have had a number of standout players who went on to play in college, but evolved into the team concept with balanced scoring and a focus on defense.

The current version of the Rumson girls basketball team under second-year coach Dave Callahan resembles the one Sourlis took over three decades ago. Senior guard and George Washington commit Tori Hyduke is the state’s leading scorer at 30.1 points per game and has helped carry a young Bulldogs team to a 12-4 start and a No. 13 ranking in the state, as per the last set of rankings.

MORE FROM SHORE CHALLENGE: Ranney gears up for top-five showdown with No. 1 Roselle Catholic 

Wednesday’s opponent is Roselle Catholic, led by junior Taniya Hanner, who is averaging 16.9 points and eight rebounds per game.

The boys program has been under the direction of Chris Champeau since the 2009-10 season and since Champeau took over, the Bulldogs have turned into one of the Shore’s best programs. Rumson’s first several years under Champeau looked more like Sourlis’s heyday – balanced teams that played intense defense before a its version of Virginia Sourlis came along.

Brendan Barry played his way into the starting lineup as a freshman, was a key player as a sophomore on a team that made a surprise run to the Central Jersey Group II final and then made the leap into rarified air while bringing the program with him. Barry carried the Bulldogs to the Shore Conference Tournament title in 2014-15 and won the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year award as a junior. As a senior, he broke the program’s all-time scoring record, finishing with more than 1,800 career points. He is also the last Shore Conference player to score 50-plus points in a single game, putting up 53 vs. Middletown North in 2016.

Since Barry graduated in 2016, the Bulldogs have reverted back to the balanced, blue-collar team, but not without some individual talent that has led to even more success for the team. Last year, Rumson won its first sectional championship in 44 years and this season, the Bulldogs boast a long, athletic roster that has sparked them to a 13-1 start.

Senior 6-7 center Elijah McAllister is averaging more than six blocks per game and has been picking up his offensive output just one year after undergoing two major knee surgeries – one in each knee – in the span of 10 months. Juniors Ian O’Connor and Jackson McCarthy, as well as senior guard Devin Cooper have stepped up as offensive threats with senior Jack Solano currently sidelined by a broken orbital bone.

Rumson senior Elijah McAllister challenges a shot by CBA senior Stephen Braunstein. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The Sourlis connection also extends to the boys team, with the former coach’s son, Teddy, in his third varsity season and second as a starter. Teddy Sourlis led the Shore Conference in three-pointers last season and while he has yet to find his shooting touch this year, he remains one of the more dangerous shooters in the area with almost unlimited range.

Next-level Rivalry

Rumson’s opponent in the second game of the double-header is Red Bank Catholic, which has ascended to the No. 9 ranking in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10. Last year’s 52-38 win by the Bulldogs over the Caseys ended a three-game winning streak by RBC in the series, so while Rumson has been the more successful of the two programs in recent years, it’s the Caseys that have had the more recent head-to-head edge.

Red Bank Catholic’s last win over Rumson was an upset in Rumson when Barry was a senior, the Bulldogs were a top-10 team in the Shore Conference and RBC was a sub.-500 team that wound up missing the SCT.

This year’s Caseys squad has continued what last year’s team started when it won a share of the Shore Conference Class B North championship during head coach Tyler Schmelz’s first season at the helm. RBC is currently 13-4 and has won four consecutive games heading into Wednesday’s showdown with Rumson, which is on a 10-game winning streak.

“It’s going to be a big opportunity,” RBC sophomore Charlie Gordinier said. “It’s going to be a big crowd, playing right before Ranney and Roselle Catholic. We don’t worry about the rankings, though. We’ll just play our game and try to get a win.”

RBC has mix of youth and experience and in the case of Gordinier, a young player with experience. Gordinier is already in his second year as a starter and at 6-5, he has been RBC’s top scorer (14.6), three-point shooter (44 total makes) and rebounder (7.4).

Point guard Matt Ansell and 6-6 center John Kelly have been the impact seniors on the team, with Ansell averaging 8.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists and Kelly is putting up 9.4 points and 3.8 blocks.

John Duffy and Stephen Lubischer are first-year contributors as juniors, with Duffy stretching the floor with his shooting and Lubischer bringing an element of athleticism to the lineup.

Lubischer, Gordinier, Ansell and sophomore Kevin Bauman were all key members of the Caseys football team and they quartet helps make RBC a tough, athletic lineup.

With some youth in the program, Red Bank Catholic has a chance to make a statement on Wednesday, not only for this season but going forward as a potential SCT contender.

“It would be awesome to beat (Rumson),” Lubischer said. “There is a lot of hype around them and I’m sure a lot of people think they are better than us, so it would be good to go out and prove people wrong.”


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