No. 2 St. Rose punched its ticket to the Shore Conference Tournament final, after defeating No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven, 56-40, in the second semifinal game at Brick Memorial High School on Tuesday night. After an evenly played first half from both teams, it was junior Kat Phipps who exploded for 14 points in what would be a crucial third quarter for the Purple Roses.
Phipps hit four straight shots from behind the arc, as the Purple Roses outscored the Bulldogs 20-12 in the third.
“I can’t even explain it, Phipps said.
“I just rely on my teammates to get me the ball, and they did a really good job during that run.”
Phipps was so focused in that stretch that she wasn’t even aware of the hot shooting display she was putting on in the third quarter.
“Honestly I really had no idea, but I figured it out after the game,” Phipps said with a grin.
Even if she wasn’t aware of what was going on, it seemed her teammates knew who to get the ball to, as they continued to find Phipps for key open looks in that big third quarter.
“When I’m out there, I’m just trying to do what is right for the team,” Phipps said.
Along with Phipps, Sarah Kurtz had a strong overall day for the Purple Roses, finishing with 17 points. Phipps finished with a team-high 20 points, and Jess Louro also added 12 more for St. Rose.
“Sarah and Jess are great at getting to the rim, every girl on our team can penetrate and find the open player,” Phipps said.
“We always seem to know where each other is on the court, and it showed in this game.”
After scoring 20 in the third quarter, St. Rose kept working to get to the rim in the fourth quarter, as they scored 18 more points to put the game away. Kurtz scored 9 of her 17 in that fourth quarter for St. Rose.
The defense also picked up for St. Rose in the second half as they limited the Bulldogs’ chances of getting easy looks at the rim. Rumson jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the first quarter, and seemed to be getting easy baskets the more it attacked the rim. St. Rose made the adjustment in the second half to try and keep the Bulldogs out of the paint.
“We didn’t want them to go middle,” Phipps said.
“We got up on some players and pressured them, and we were able to beat them at their own game.”
Rumson head coach George Sourlis was happy with the way his team went out and battled, and was also pleased with the looks his team was getting.
“I thought we had some better looks then they did, but we just weren’t able to hit them,” Sourlis said.
“Credit to them, they made the plays when they needed to, and we didn’t make any.”
Sourlis hopes to see his team improve with the NJSIAA Tournament approaching.
“We have to get better and execute our stuff,” Sourlis said.
“I don’t think we executed at all in the second half, and you have to give St. Rose a lot of credit for disrupting us in the half court.”
Stephanie Lesko finished with a team-high 15 points for the Bulldogs, and Grace Stant added six more.
No. 2 St. Rose will play No. 5 Manasquan in the SCT final Saturday, 1 p.m., at Monmouth University.