By Jim Hintelmann
RUMSON –When Rumson-Fair Haven Regional’s Jessica Harvey drilled a three-pointer from 35 feet out at the halftime buzzer to give the Lady Bulldogs a 27-22 lead over St. John Vianney Thursday, it looked as if that would give Rumson further momentum in the second half.
SJV, however, was the team that got the momentum, scoring the first 11 points of the third period and never losing the lead in a key 57-47 win over the Lady Bulldogs to gain sole possession of first place in the A Central Division.
“We made a few defensive adjustments (at halftime) with the way we were trapping and going after them,” said SJV coach Dawn Karpell. “We also settled in on offense, which served us well.”
With her team trailing by six entering the third quarter, Angelica Esposito, one of the few seniors on the young SJV team, led the SJV rally by scoring on a put back. Lyndsay Rowe followed with a free throw and Katie Beriont added a three-point play.
Esposito, who had 12 of her game high 15 points in the quarter, followed with a three-pointer and lay up to put SJV in front, 33-27 and, after Rumson’s Janae Mayfield hit a free throw, Esposito followed with another trey and a jumper to build the lead to 38-28.
“The first two possessions of the second half were a key point in the game,” said Rumson coach George Sourlis. “We didn’t even get a shot.”
“I was relaxed and was open,” said Esposito. “I just shot them and they went in.”
“Esposito stepped up and hit some really big shots,” said Karpell. “Zoe Otterman, the other senior who was out there, got some big rebounds on the other end.
“These kids have been in the program for four years,” she said. “They’ve been through the battles and really brought it tonight.”
Rumson made a brief run and Harvey closed the gap to 44-40 with another three-pointer from near mid court, to end the third quarter.
SJV, though, came back at the start of the fourth quarter with Beriont converting on a three-point play and Kate Egan adding a free throw for a 48-40 lead.
Mayfield came back with a three-point play for Rumson, but that was as close as it could come.
Rumson, also with a very young team (just one senior on the squad), started out fast with a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but SJV rallied in the second period and went ahead, 20-18 before Rumson used a 9-2 run capped by Harvey’s long three-pointer to close out the half.
“They did a nice job jumping us and I felt that they were a little more desperate then we were to start the second half.” said Sourlis. “We gave up 35 points in the second half, which was unacceptable, but you have to give Vianney a lot of credit.
“There are no moral victories here,” he added, “but I was so proud of our effort. The kids played hard, but Vianney out-executed us and made shots.
“We’ve gotten so much better since the start of the season,” Sourlis pointed out, “but we still have some work to do.”