By Jim Hintelmann
Rumson – Tuesday’s non-division girl’s basketball game matching Rumson-Fair Haven Regional and Mater Dei Prep was a game in which both coaches came away with some positive feelings.
Rumson (2-0) won the game, 47-41, but Mater Dei Prep made the Lady Bulldogs work for the victory and stayed in contention most of the way while Rumson, with its youngest team in coach George Sourlis’ long career, held off the challenge.
Rumson has only one senior on its varsity roster (not a starter), but the younger players stepped up.
“We’re counting on our juniors for leadership and tonight they displayed that,” said Sourlis. “That was good.
“We’re extremley young,” he admitted. “I don’t believe that we’ve had that (only one senior) before. Give Mater Dei credit. They were poised and patient, and made good decisions with the ball.“
Rumson appeared to have the game in hand when it led, 35-24, midway in the third quarter, but Mater Dei Prep rallied and scored the last seven points of the quarter, five of them by Taylor Curti, the game’s high scorer with 19 points, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, that made it 35-31.
“We played well,” said Mater Dei Prep coach Darren Ault. “I’m happy about that, but we gave them too many second and third chances under the offensive glass. It’s a matter of technique. We’ve very young and have five freshmen on our team.
“We’re working on our mechanics, “ he added. “We’ll be better as we go along.”
Mater Dei narrowed the deficit to 37-35 on a basket by Curti, but Rumson’s Jessie Harvey scored on a drive, freshman Sam Sabino added two foul shots and Casey Weis had a free throw to up the lead to 42-35 with three minutes left.
“Sabino is a basketball player,” said Sourlis. “The sky is the limit for her if she keeps working. I like what I see of her.”
Mater Dei Prep kept coming and Curti’s steal and lay up with 1:15 remaining cut the lead to 42-38, but that was as close it would get as Rumson scored the next five points.
The first quarter was played at a surprisingly up tempo pace with Mater Dei Prep staying right with the Lady Bulldogs and then taking the lead, 15-14 at the buzzer, on a trey by Skyler McCartney.
Rumson, though, settled down in the second period and moved out in front, 23-17 with six straight points, and it never lost the lead the rest of the game.
“We didn’t change anything,” said Sourlis. “We just tried to pressure the ball and take them out of their rhythm, but they played a heck of a game.”