By Jim Hintelmann
MIDDLETOWN TOWNHIP – Having scored one of the season’s biggest upsets with a 42-40 overtime shocker over Rumson-Fair Haven Regional last week, Shore Regional kept the momentum going Friday, when it held off a late challenge from Mater Dei Prep for a 29-28 win in a defensive struggle.
“We beat Raritan yesterday (Thursday) and Mater Dei tonight,” said Shore coach Dave Dudzinski. “It’s always a battle with Mater Dei because we used to be in B Central with them.”
A drive by Taylor Curti with 20 seconds remaining closed the gap to 29-28 and Mater Dei Prep got the ball back off of a Shore turnover with 17 seconds left, but it lost the ball at the 14-second mark.
Mater Dei Prep still had one more chance, though, when Shore’s Gina Ruscil missed a free throw with four seconds to go, but a desperation shot by Curti missed at the buzzer.
“We have mid terms coming up Monday,” said Dudzinski, “and we play Holmdel and St. John Vianney next (this) week. We’re back in the A Central but we’ll play them. It’s on the schedule and we’ll do our best to compete. These girls never quit.
“The Rumson game was very good for our girls,” said Dudzinski. “I think that the last time we beat Rumson was in 2003.”
Mater Dei Prep got off to an 8-4 lead in a slowly paced first quarter in which neither team shot well but Shore, led by Ellen Dougherty, who scored three baskets, went in front, 14-10.
Curti, who reached 1,000 points for her varsity career in Mater Dei Prep’s victory over Asbury Park on Monday, then hit a three-pointer just before halftime to make it a one-point game.
Shore started the third quarter strongly with baskets by Dana Kelly, Ruscil and Emily Reiser moving the Blue Devils out to a 19-13 advantage.
Mater Dei Prep hung tough, though, and a steal and lay up by freshman Lindsey Florio with 3:20 left in the game closed the Shore lead to 27-26.
The Seraphs had four more chances to retake the lead, but two turnovers and a pair of missed shots kept them trailing.
Dougherty (12 points) finally gave Shore what was to be the the winning points with a drive to offset Curti’s late basket.
“Some untimely turnovers, uncharacteristic of some players who were doing it, hurt us,” said Mater Dei Prep coach Darren Ault, “but that is part of the game. A couple of missed lay ups late in the game, would have given us the lead. Things change if that happened.
“It’s been a slow progress for us,” he said. “We have five freshmen and three sophomores on varsity. I got one of the best players in the Shore in Curti, and I’m trying to get the rest of the team to mature around her, but we’re getting there.”
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