Boys Basketball – Brendan Barry and Rumson Roll Past Top-10 Gill St. Bernard’s
LONG BRANCH - After scoring a showcase record 34 points in last year's event, Brendan Barry had a lot to live up to Saturday at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase at Long Branch High School.
For an encore, he led his Bulldogs to a win over an unbeaten, top-10-ranked team in the state.
Barry scored 29 points to go with seven rebounds, five assists and five steals to lead the Bulldogs to a convincing 66-49 win over previously unbeaten Gill St. Bernard's, which came into Saturday the No. 7 ranked team in N.J. according to NJ.com.
"We've seen pieces of that kind of performance here and there, but tonight was one of those nights when it came together," Rumson-Fair Haven coach Chris Champeau said.
Barry shot 5-for-12 from the field but went 18-for-20 from the free throw line, including 12-for-14 in the fourth quarter to squash a rally by the Knights.
"I didn't shoot the ball that well today so I had to figure out other ways to score and get my teammates involved," Barry said. "It worked."
Rumson took control of the game in the second quarter with a 15-5 run that sent the Bulldogs to the halftime locker room ahead 27-16. Barry scored nine points during the run, including a step-back three off a crossover that capped the first-half scoring and a 13-point half for the senior guard.
The Bulldogs added to their lead during the third quarter thanks to Barry and senior Collin McDevitt. After a three-point play by Gill St. Bernard's senior Adam Mitola to open the third quarter, Rumson ripped off a 16-5 run that pushed its lead to 43-24, its largest of the game. Barry started the run with a jumper from near the top of the key and scored off a steal to push the lead to 37-20.
McDevitt caught fire from behind the three-point arc, hitting all three of his triples for all nine of his points during the run.
Senior Mickey Schluter capped the run with his second three of the game and also assisted all two of McDevitt's threes with drive-and-kicks. Schluter finished with 13 points.
"I feel like moving into the starting lineup has made me into much more of a team player," Schluter said. "I have to be able to create for my teammates and not just look for my own shot. Last year we had guys that could create that shot for me and today we just really moved the ball well.
"(Champeau) told me today that if I see an opening, attack that rather than try to force something when there are three guys there," Schluter said. "I saw a lot of those today and I was able to find Collin a bunch of times and Collin really stepped up today with some big shots."
Gill St. Bernard's did not give up its unbeaten streak without a fight, as the Knights trimmed the Rumson lead to 49-43 with just under three minutes left to play. Rumson was able to protect the ball, turning it over just twice during the entire fourth quarter, but struggled from the free-throw line to keep hope alive for Gill St. Bernard's. Outside of Barry's 12-for-14 showing at the stripe, the team shot 3-for-11 from the line in the final quarter.
Rumson's defense delivered its signature effort of the young season so far, holding a potent, balanced Gill St. Bernard's offense below 50 points and below 30 heading into the fourth quarter.
"I was ready to throw a bunch of gimmicks at them," Champeau said. "But we just stayed halfcourt man-to-man, played tough and I'm proud of the guys. That's a great team."
"I feel like we played soft early in the year and I feel like we're playing tougher," Barry said. "That's really a testament to how far we've come and how tough we're playing right now, on defense especially."
Barry's five steals aided the cause, as did sophomore Elijah McAllister's rim protection, which showed in his nine rebounds and four blocks.
"Elijah is one of the best defenders in the Shore," Schluter said. "He can block anyone and you saw that today."
Saturday's win over a the Knights was Rumson's fourth straight following a 1-3 start and a double-overtime loss to Colts Neck on Dec. 30. After Barry missed the first two games of the season due to an injury to his left hand, the Bulldogs are 5-1 since his return following two 20-plus point losses to St. John Vianney and Manasquan in his absence.
"(Friday) night we had a really tough game against Holmdel - they were really scrappy," Barry said. "I like the way we came out today and I think we're really on the upswing."