By Jim Hintelmann
RUMSON – Area girls basketball powers Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional came through with impressive victories in the Saturday, Jan. 18, Hoop Group Battle of the Boardwalk.
Another local power, St. John Vianney, fell a point short of its goal.
RBC led from the start in a 46-37 win over the Neptune High School Scarlet Fliers while Rumson held off a late Monsignor Donovan rally for a 61-53 decision. Previously unbeaten St. John Vianney, however, was stunned by St. Rose, 42-41.
“We knew that Neptune would come out and play hard,” RBC coach Joe Montano said. “Our game plan was to keep them on the perimeter and not let them penetrate. We did that well in the second half.”
RBC got off to a fast start with 3-pointers by freshman Tia Montagne and Alex Barazotti, but Neptune narrowed the lead to 20-18 on a drive by Miesha Bacon.
That was as close as it would get, though, as RBC closed the half with 7 straight points on a drive by Montagne, Josie Larkins’ 3-pointer and two free throws by senior Grace Fallon, who made her return to the lineup after missing two weeks due to a sprained ankle suffered in a win over Red Bank Regional.
“Grace coming back makes me sleep a little better at night,” Montano said.
Fallon was one of two returning starters from last year’s 30-2 team that won both the Shore Conference and Non-Public A championships.
“The ankle healed up pretty good,” said Fallon, who was named player of the game for RBC. “I did a lot of physical therapy and it didn’t bother me in the game. I didn’t know how bad it was then I first hurt it, but I was relieved to find out that it was just a sprain.”
RBC increased the lead to 38-23 midway in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Fallon, who will be attending Duke on a lacrosse scholarship.
Neptune made one more threat with 7 straight points, but RBC used an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Montano admitted, “but Neptune had something to do with that. The bottom line was that we won it.”
During its win against Monsignor Donovan, RFH had to overcome a strong performance from Donovan’s Dana Carbone who had a game-high 25 points.
Rumson, though, had a standout of its own in Grace Stant, who scored 21 points, including seven of eight free throws in the final quarter to help the Bulldogs hold off a late Griffin rally.
Rumson had a 40-21 lead in the third quarter, but the Griffins rallied and got as close as 46-42 before Stant’s free throws clinched the win.
“I knew that Donovan wouldn’t quit,” Rumson coach George Sourlis said. “They have a great program. In a game like this, you have to play a full 32 minutes.”
During the St. John Vianney-St. Rose contest, Jess Lauro’s free throw with 2:30 remaining broke a 41-41 tie and St. Rose’s defense held SJV scoreless the rest of the game.
Lauro paced the Purple Roses with 17 points.
SJV had tied the game on Jackie Gallagher’s 3-point goal with 4 minutes left but neither team scored until Lauro’s free throw won it.