Sometimes, you’ve gotta have height

With everything the Rumson-Fair Haven girls had going for them heading into their NJSIAA Tournament of Champions semifinal game against top-seeded Trenton Central, it was what they were missing that proved to be their demise.

Armed with one of the state’s budding stars in sophomore Kate Miller and a number of other capable scoring threats, as well as a stifling defense and one of the most creative coaches in the state in George Sourlis, the Bulldogs traveled back to the Ritacco Center in Toms River hoping to find a way to knock off the Tornadoes and earn their first trip to a TOC final.

But they simply couldn’t handle the size of their opponents.

“There’s just some things you can’t overcome,” Sourlis said following the loss.

Trenton Central took full advantage of its height advantages in defeating the Bulldogs, 48-37, on March 15, continually challenging Rumson shooters with their shot-blocking ability and having the edge on the boards throughout much of the game.

Six-foot-two center Torrie Childs led the defensive effort for the Tornadoes, swatting away seven of her team’s eight blocked shots, while numerous other Rumson shots were altered as well.

The Tornadoes’ defensive prowess was the difference in the game, as Rumson players began to alter their own shots, expecting every shot to be challenged. Virtually all of their points came from the outside, while Trenton dominated the paint at the other end, getting 28 points from its front-court players.

While Rumson continued to battle back from deficits throughout the game, led by Marissa LaCardi’s 12 points, Trenton had an answer for every Bulldog run, and eventually pulled away late by hitting 10-of-12 free throws in the final two minutes.

With the loss, Rumson-Fair Haven finished the season at 28-5, while Trenton went on to fall to University High School on Monday in the TOC final, 68-62.

The saying goes, “you’ve gotta have heart.”

Rumson had plenty of that. What they needed against Trenton Central was height.

– Doug McKenzie