Girls Basketball – Rumson Stifles Neptune to Advance to SCT Semis
By Ella Brockway
MIDDLETOWN - A strong defensive effort led the second-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs (18-5, 9-3) to a 52-26 win over the seventh-seeded Neptune Scarlet Fliers (20-4, 13-1) and into the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.
Stephanie Lesko scored a team-high 12 points for Rumson. Hannah Scanlan and Tori Hyduke added 10 each in the win.
The Rumson defense, spearheaded by the duo of Lesko and Scanlan, held Neptune to its lowest point total this season, and limited the Scarlet Fliers’ leading scorer, junior guard Desiree Allen, to just 15 points on the game. Allen is averaging 23.3 points per game on the season, and led the Shore in free throws and field goals made through games played on Feb. 13.
Allen scored the 1,000th point of her career on a made free throw less than three minutes into the second quarter. She scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half, including six points in the first 2:30 of the game.
Two quick fouls on Rumson forward Megan Volker and Neptune’s early first-quarter run resulted in a defensive switch that put Lesko on Allen for the rest of the game.
“I knew what I had to do on (Allen) in the beginning,” said Lesko on her matchup with Allen. “I just picked it up right away. I made some mistakes in the beginning, but I picked it up at the end.”
“(Lesko) just gives us a whole other dimension on the floor, because of her size and her ability to be so versatile on offense,” said Rumson coach George Sourlis.
Allen scored four of Neptune’s 10 second-half points.
On the offensive end, an off-day for the typically strong-shooting Bulldogs turned into a big day on the boards. Senior Sydney Sabino, who now has 40 three-pointers on the season, went 1-8 from behind the line, and junior Katie Foos, who has 49 threes on the year, made one of her four attempts from three-point range.
“I don’t think we shot the ball the way we are capable of,” said head coach George Sourlis. “But despite that, we scored 52 points against a top team in the Shore, and that’s a testament to us. We got the ball to other people, and that’s why we’re tough to guard.”
Scanlan grabbed six defensive rebounds in the first half alone for Rumson, and scored eight of her ten points in the first two quarters.
“We played as a team defensively today, and we blocked out,” Sourlis said. “That was the second part of the equation for us – that we blocked out, and didn’t let them get second shots.”
Scanlan and Lesko showed their strength as a duo in the fourth quarter, as Scanlan scored on an assist from Lesko at the 6:55 mark, and Lesko scored on a Scanlan assist just over a minute later.
“Off the floor, (Lesko and Scanlan) are the best of friends, and on the floor, they play like it,” Sourlis said. “They know how to play together, and they know how to find each other in spots. They’re just really two good basketball players.”
The win means that Rumson will move on to the semifinals of the SCT, where they will meet No. 3 seed and two-time defending SCT champion Manasquan. This will be the Bulldogs’ first trip to the semifinals of the tournament since 2014, when Rumson lost to St. Rose in the semifinal game. The Bulldogs lost to Middletown South in the quarterfinals last year.
The two Shore Conference Class A Central rivals will meet at Pine Belt Arena on Monday at 7:45 p.m. The Bulldogs and Warriors split the regular-season series, with Manasquan winning at home on opening night and Rumson winning the more recent meeting in Rumson by two points.
1 2 3 4 F
Neptune 6 10 5 5 26
Rumson 20 10 7 15 52
Rahmena Henderson 4
Brianna Love 3
Alexa Vreeland 1
Desiree Allen 15
Kaelyn Kimbrough 3
Mikaela Garvey 2
Christina Antonakakis 5
Tori Hyduke 10
Nicole Morris 4
Stephanie Lesko 12
Katie Foos 3
Sydney Sabino 4
Hannah Scanlan 10
Megan Volker 2