Boys Basketball – McAllister’s Return, Balance Lead Rumson Past RBC
By Ella Brockway
Elijah McAllister may have played limited minutes for Rumson-Fair Haven (14-1, 8-0) in Saturday’s game against non-divisional rival Red Bank Catholic (10-6, 7-3), his first at home this season after sitting out the first five weeks of the year recovering from an ACL injury, but that didn’t stop him from putting on a show.
The junior forward finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 blocks as the Bulldogs took home a 52-38 win over the Caseys. Junior guard Teddy Sourlis scored a game-high 15 points. The win is Rumson’s third straight, and the Bulldogs remain unbeaten against Shore Conference teams.
McAllister’s impact on both the offensive and defensive ends for the Bulldogs showed from the start. The 6-6 forward collected his third block of the game with 3:20 left in the first quarter as he stopped a Matt Ansell layup attempt, and then converted that rebound into two points on the offensive end on an assist from junior guard Jack Solano to put Rumson up 6-3.
“He’s a complete difference maker,” head coach Chris Champeau said of McAllister. “When he’s on the court, we’re not afraid of penetration, and we can do so many different things defensively because we know we’ve got the monster in the paint.”
The Bulldogs took a 13-8 lead into the second quarter. The Caseys cut that lead to four with threes from freshman guard Charlie Gordinier and senior guard Mike Conley late in the second, but Sourlis hit back with a deep three off of an RBC turnover to put the Bulldogs up 25-18 at the end of the first half. Sourlis scored all of his 15 points from beyond the arc, and now has 57 made three-pointers on the season, the most in the Shore.
Rumson opened the second half with threes on back-to-back possessions from Jack Solano. Solano had 11 points on the day, all of which came in the second half. The Bulldogs stepped up and took control of the game during the third quarter on the offensive and defensive boards. Sophomore guard Ian O’Connor and McAllister combined for 12 rebounds during the second half, and the team out-rebounded the Caseys 30-13.
“With Elijah back, it’s so much easier to get all those rebounds,” said O’Connor. “Instead of everyone crashing the boards we can have some people start to leak out, and Elijah can get a quick outlet pass and then that turns into fast break points.”
Those fast breaks allowed Rumson to build an 18-point lead in the third. O’Connor, who Champeau calls the “best, toughest sophomore in the state” outside of Ranney, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds on the day.
“He’s everything I want in a basketball player: tough as hell and quiet, humble and hungry,” said Champeau of O’Connor. “He can take people off the dribble, he’s got a crazy good motor, he can hit threes, but the best thing about Ian is his toughness.”
The Caseys cut what at one point during the third was an 18-point lead to ten as they forced two five-second calls on Rumson inbounds plays at the 3:58 and 1:18 marks. Junior Matt Ansell had a team-high nine points for Red Bank Catholic, and Rumson was up 40-30 heading into the fourth.
The Rumson defense held the Caseys to just two field goals in the final quarter, both of which came after Red Bank Catholic pulled their starters late in the game. Solano scored five of his 11 points in the fourth, including three on an and-1 with 5:32 left in the game to put the Bulldogs up 45-31.
“If we space the floor and work on basketball moves, it’s hard to guard,” said Champeau. “I’ve said in the locker room the entire year: we have five basketball players as starters. Every one of them can shoot, attack, dribble, and make shots, so that’s a hard matchup.”
The Bulldogs have five games remaining on their regular season schedule, and will face Red Bank at home on Monday night. The Caseys, who currently sit in third place behind Manasquan and Long Branch in Class B North, play Monmouth Regional on Wednesday night at home.