By Jim Hintelmann
HAZLET – Foul shooting frequently plays a big role in the outcome of a basketball game, and Monday’s A Central game between Raritan and Shore Regional was a perfect example.
Raritan won the game, 40-32, and the foul line proved to be the difference with the Rockets hitting 16 of 21 including 11 of 14 in the final quarter while Shore managed just 6 of 11.
“Free throw shooting definitely makes a difference,” said Raritan coach Ron Poll. “Shore is a good team and put pressure on us and put us on the line to see if we could make them. Fortunately, we did.”
Raritan also used an effective zone defense that shut down Shore’s inside game while sophomores Megan Quinn and Katelyn Sire led the offense with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said Poll. “We have a young team. Besides our three seniors, a lot of our kids are juniors and sophomores, but we’re coming along.”
Quinn and Sires opened the game with baskets for a 4-0 lead, but Shore’s Claudia Lamarca drilled a three-pointer and Megan Dougherty followed with a three-point play to give Shore a 6-4 advantage.
Raritan then took control and scored eight straight points, four by Quinn to open up a 14-6 lead.
The Rockets had their biggest lead at 20-9 midway in the third quarter and held off several brief Shore runs to keep the lead.
Shore’s best chance came with 3:10 remaining when a three-point basket by Gin Ruscil narrowed the lead to 30-26, but Julie Tamaci and Sites hit two free throws each and Quinn added a lay up to build the lead up to 35-26 with two minutes remaining, and that settled the issue.
“Quinn and Siles are expected to step up this year and I’m proud of their work ethic,” said Poll. “We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
“When you play in the A Central, you have to come to play every night,” said Shore coach Dave Dudzinski, “but Raritan played very well. Their girls came ready to play.
“We were in the double bonus for most of the fourth period,” he said. “We would come back and then they would just get back on the foul line and make them.”