RUMSON - The players on the Rumson-Fair Haven boys basketball knew they were facing an uphill climb when they learned returning Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Brendan Barry would miss the first two games of the season after undergoing surgery on his left hand.

They also learned after a lackluster start to a game Wednesday against Colts Neck that Barry's return was not enough on its own to make a defending Shore Conference Tournament championship team with four new starters into an SCT favorite once again.

In addition to Barry playing like his old self, the Bulldogs supporting cast needed to find its stride and both did just that on Saturday in a 64-48 win over Freehold Township, the No. 10 team in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10.

"It's tough to beat three guys and score, which is what Brendan has to do a lot of the time," Rumson-Fair Haven coach Chris Champeau said. "It's a lot easier to catch and shoot or catch and beat one guy. But the guys did a great job today stepping up and hitting some shots and playing together on offense."

Barry scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, which accounted for all but 13 of his team's points after halftime. After shooting 2-for-5 overall and 1-for-3 from behind the three-point arc, Barry shot 7-for-11 in the second half and finished 6-for-9 from three-point range, including makes on his last five attempts from long distance. The senior guard also handed out six assists.

"With us, it all comes down to defense and chemistry," Barry said. "We've only played with each other for one summer because we graduted four seniors starters. I think if we defend like we are capable of, we can win any game and I think the offense will come too. We have a lot of shooters around the floor."

After missing his first two attempts from the field and facing extra defenders running at him, Barry went into point guard mode and began working the ball around to get his teammates involved. Senior Mickey Schluter made Freehold Township pay with 10 of his 11 points in the first quarter, including a pair of threes. As a team, Rumson shot 12-for-33 (36.3 percent) from behind the arc.

"At this stage of his development, I look at him like a coach," Champeau said of Barry. "I'll meet with him before the game and ask him, 'Hey B, what do you think?' We have that kind of relationship and he knows he's got to try to get the other guys involved, but when it's time, he has to sort of take over. He's almost like a player-coach with his I.Q. out there, so it's easy to let him figure that out."

Senior Colin McDevitt also chipped in 10 points, including a three on the first possession of the game. Rumson began the game with a pair of technical free throws by Barry after Freehold Township was penalized for dunking during pregame warm-ups.

The five-point first possession sparked a 19-9 first quarter surge by the Bulldogs and after the Patriots trimmed the deficit to 21-14, Rumson closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 31-16 halftime lead. Sophomore Jack Solano came off the bench and hit a three from the left wing and a floater in the lane on consecutive possessions and Barry followed with a 23-foot three-pointer on the next trip down for his first triple of the game.

Elijah McAllister converted a layup off a feed from Schluter with two seconds left to cap the first-half scoring. McAllister would later flush a two-handed slam off a pass from Solano in the fourth quarter and finished with four points, seven rebounds, four assists and six blocks.

"We're really long on the wings and down low with Tyler Pierson and Elijah," Barry said. "I think if we can just stop teams from getting in the paint, we could be really good (on defense)."

Freehold Township scored the first five points of the third quarter, with senior John Carroll converting a three-point play to pull the Patriots within 31-21. Rumson, however, responded with a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 41-21, with Barry and McDevitt each scoring five points during the run.

Freehold Township nudged slightly closer at 44-29 late in the third, but the Bulldogs put the game out of reach with one final kick to end the quarter. Barry hit a long three, then set up sophomore Teddy Sourlis for a three, followed by a dish to Sourlis for a fastbreak layup. With time winding down in the fourth, Barry capped an 11-2 Rumson spurt with his fourth three of the quarter to send his team to the fourth leading 55-31.

Carroll finished with 10 points and eight rebounds and junior Steve Staklinski led Freehold Township with 11 points. Barry did not get a breather before exiting the game with less than two minutes left and held Freehold Township leading scorer and point guard Nick Facendo to six points and four assists.

With Barry out of the lineup, Rumson lost its first two games of the season by more than 20 points each and by an average of 22.5 to Manasquan and St. John Vianney.

After beating Fort Hamilton of Brooklyn in Barry's return on Monday, the Bulldogs fell behind Colts Neck by 11 points in the fourth quarter before forcing double overtime. Colts Neck ended up winning that game on a three by Jordan deGroot with three seconds left in the second overtime.

"These guys who were sitting on the bench when we were in the state (sectional) finals (in 2014) and the Shore Conference finals (last year) just had to sit back, watch the ball go to Brendan and give the high fives," Champeau said. "We got slapped in the face with reality in those first two games and my hope was that those first two games without Brendan would wake these guys up a little and make them say, 'Wow, this is a whole different world without the captain running the ship.'

"Late in the third, beginning of the fourth quarter against Colts Neck, it reminded me more of what we looked like (last year): scrappy defense, we went small, (Barry) hitting big shots. That was one of the more exciting December games I've been invovled in. Didn't like the outcome, but it woke us up."

Barry is still playing with a heavily wrapped left hand, but said that his plan is to reduce the amount of layering on the wrap with each game.

"It's still hard to get a grip when I go up with my left hand, but other than that, it's been feeling closer to normal every day," Barry said. "We're just going to keep taking a layer off with each game and see how it goes. It's been good though."


Box Score

Rumson-Fair Haven 64, Freehold Twp. 48

Freehold Twp. (4-3)97151748
Rumson-FH (2-3)191224964


Freehold Twp. (48): Nick Facendo 3 0-0 6, Bobby Weise 2 1-5 6, John Carroll 3 4-5 10, Steve Staklinski 3 3-4 11, Ryan Zyskowski 2 0-0 4, Ja’zeem Foster 4 1-1 9, Ryan Cardone 1 0-0 2, Tyler Von Nessen 0 0-0 0 , Stefan Williams 0 0-0 0, Brandon Hosner 0 0-0 0, Matt Jerecki 0 0-0 0, Brian White 0 1-2 1, Eric Rizzotello 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 10-17 48

Three-pointers: Weise, Staklinski

Rumson-FH (64): Brendan Barry 9 3-3 27, Mickey Schluter 3 3-4 11, Elijah McAllister 2 0-0 4, Tyler Pierson 1 0-0 2, Colin McDevitt 3 2-2 10, Jack Solano 2 0-0 5, Teddy Sourlis 2 0-0 5, Bobby Coene 0 0-0 0, Pat Russo 0 0-0 0, Matt Healy 0 0-0 0, Henry Sillen 0 0-0 0, Charlie Curran 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Kelly 0 0-0 0, Jack Higgins 0 0-0 0, Jacob Black 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 8-9 64

Three-pointers: Barry 6, Schluter 2, McDevitt 2, Solano, Sourlis

Fouled Out: Pierson

More From Shore Sports Network