NEPTUNE, NJ–On Wednesday night, GMC Hoops traveled down to the Hoop Group Headquarters for the first time this summer to see the second night of action in the summer league there. Spotswood, the lone GMC team in the league this year, was playing in the 7:30 PM round of games against Rumson Fair-Haven. These two teams played back in March in the quarterfinal round of the Central Jersey Group II State Tournament, and the Bulldogs emerged victorious with a 52-51 victory on the road. This game would not be as close.
The Chargers lost a great deal to graduation including their entire starting five. Cody Pace, who is headed to Montclair State, and Tyler Osofsky led the Chargers to the school’s first ever GMCT Final Four, where it lost to eventual champion, St. Joseph’s (48-38). However, the Chargers have a great deal of young talent returning including soon to be junior Tommy Soulias along with soon to be seniors Garrett Walters and Steve Manahan. Spotswood also has soon to be sophomore Jamal Lewis along with big man Ike Ejikeme. SHS may not be as good next year as they have been over the past two seasons, but expect them to still be competitive in the revamped GMC Blue.
Rumson started out fast, and finished even faster in this contest. The Bulldogs hit their first three field goals from beyond the arc in a 12-2 start, and then closed out the game with a 23-0 run for a 66-24 victory. For the game, Rumson-Fair Haven connected on eight three pointers. Despite giving up some size, the Bulldogs played tenacious and physical defense that made things very difficult for the Chargers, which were unable to get shots to fall. Right away things didn’t go right for Spotswood. Despite outworking Rumson for several offensive rebounds, they couldn’t cash in as Ejikeme, who was eventually fouled, missed both foul shots at the 19:30 mark. Then, the Bulldogs took the lead for good with a three pointer from the right side at the 18:43 mark.
Manahan scored on a floater that banked in at the 18:26 mark, but Rumson-Fair Haven connected on a three pointer from the right baseline for a 6-2 lead with 18:12 to go in the first half. The Bulldogs struck again from three at the 17:15 mark for a 9-2 lead. Spotswood continued to struggle with shots not falling while Rumson made one of two at the line with 15:08 to play in the half, and then stole an errant pass by Soulias for a layup at the 14:31 mark for a 12-2 lead. Soulias redeemed himself with a three pointer from the right corner off a kickout by Walters to close the gap to 12-5 with 14:18 remaining in the opening half. Rumson-Fair Haven added a field goal, and then two free throws at the 11:26 mark for a 16-5 lead. Nearly two minutes went by before Rumson scored again on a steal for a fast break layin at the 9:29 mark for an 18-5 lead.
The Chargers called for time three seconds later, and after that timeout, they got on the board as Manahan got a loose ball, and made a nice bounce pass to Ejikeme for a layup, and an 18-7 Rumson lead with 9:11 to go in the half. However, RFH would not let SHS get back into the game. First, the Bulldogs connected on a jumper with 8:20 to go in the period for a 20-7 lead. Seconds later, the Shore Conference school swiped a steal that led to a three pointer for a 23-7 advantage with 8:15 to play in the half. The Chargers would make two free throws at the 6:56 mark for a 23-9 Rumson lead. The Bulldogs, which were in the bonus, was unable to take a bigger lead for the time being as they missed the front end of a one and one at the 5:03 mark.
Rumson Fair-Haven, which had five threes in the first half, connected on their final trey of the opening half with a shot from the right wing to make the score, 26-9 at the 3:15 mark. After Rumson misfired on a couple of foul shots at the 1:59 mark, Manahan passed upcourt to Soulias for a layup as he was fouled, but the sophomore missed the bonus free throw for a 26-11 score. In a moment that was emblematic of the type of game Spotswood was having, Walters stole an errant pass, and had a chance to cut the deficit in half, but missed the layup. The Bulldogs then scrapped for the loose ball, and got the jump ball and possession. Rumson went into the intermission with a fifteen point lead. The Monmouth County school picked up right where it left off in the first half with a running one hander from the left side at the 19:20 mark for a 28-11 lead.
The Chargers continued to be in a funk as they missed two free throws at the 18:41 mark. Rumson then got a layup at the 18:10 mark, and an offensive rebound and follow with 17:29 to go for a 32-11 lead. Spotswood would get a layin at the 16:45 mark for a 32-13 Rumson-Fair Haven lead, but the Bulldogs came back with a turnaround jumper from the left side for a 34-13 advantage. Rumson scored five of the next seven points including a three pointer at the 15:18 mark for a 39-15 lead as Spotswood called for time. Following the timeout, the Chargers tried to battle back with the help of Walters. First, the junior struck for a three pointer from the left side to make the score, 39-18 at the 15:04 mark. The Bulldogs got another score while the Chargers were scoreless for 2:22 before Walters got an offensive rebound off his own missed three, and dished to Ejikeme for a layup and a foul, which was converted for a three point play, and a 40-21 Rumson-Fair Haven lead.
Rumson got another three points before Manahan drove and kicked to Walters for a three from the left side for a 43-24 Bulldogs lead with 11:20 to play. Those would be the final points of the game for Spotswood then. Rumson-Fair Haven then closed the game with a 23-0 scoring avalanche to close out the convincing victory. Included in the run was a steal for a layup at the 5:24 mark for a then modest 9-0 run, and 52-24 lead.
GMC Hoops plans to be back out next Wednesday night to see the Chargers face off against the Falcons of Monmouth Regional.