There is a new feeling around Red Bank Regional these days. Last year, after years of being on the outside looking in, RBR had a banner season. It was a long time coming as RBR beat a Top 10 team and advanced to the state and TOC tournaments. But this year people expected RBR to return to their old ways. They lost basically their entire team and their coach. They were left with a roster of unexperienced players to continue a RBR tradition of looking in from the outside. But RBR and its masterful coach had different ideas.
The #8 team in the state RFH, took on RBR this weekend. Most people expected a massacre. There was no buzz or interest surrounding this game. But when I ran into the new Coach John Truhan, he said something to me that made me laugh. He said “I think we are better and can beat them.” I laughed and then he told me his game plan. It was then I knew why, John Truhan was one of the best in the business. This was the same John Truhan that stole RFH and legendary coach George Sourlis’ best chance for a SCT title in what many call the greatest SCT game ever. In a triple overtime game, his Colts Neck team defeated RFH and here was Coach Truhan up to his old tricks again. RBR leading scorer MEGAN MURRAY played the entire game with 4 fouls from the first quarter on. Coach Truhan’s game plan was brilliant as Megan Murray and Caitlyn Decker shadowed Tori Hyduke all night. It was Hyduke and role players who saved the day for RFH in a 55-51 win for RFH. The strange part is after the game RBR kids were not happy with a moral victory. As John Truhan said, “people better get use to coming into RBR and fighting for their lives”… it sounds like the good ole days of playing RBR are over.
The cast of players that make up this year’s RBR team is something out of type casting. It almost impossible to not root for them. Like Sophomore Grace Goodwyn, who is hearing impaired but her game does more talking than anyone could imagine. She is the key to the RBR offense when she sets up at the foul line. She makes all the tough decisions and right passes. She plays way bigger than her 5’8″ body. She is an inspiration to her team and coaches. She is the very essence of RBR basketball. A player that most have forgotten or given little thought about. She is averaging 6.1 rebounds a game. She does it with heart and a great mind. She represents all the current RBR players that seem to have been forgotten by outsiders. RBR has made believers out of a lot of people these days and it did not start against RFH. While RBR may not be happy with moral victories they did lose by 22 and 16 points last year to RFH. They have showed a grit that nobody expected. Like winning two games at the buzzer besides their near upset of #8 RFH. This cast of RBR players are unlike any group we have seen at RBR in years. Its a group worth talking about..
Megan Murray is a junior who played a major role in RBR’s season last year. She averaged 13 points as a sophomore. This year is getting 14.1 and averaging 3 steals a game. She has been a rock for RBR. She is a lacrosse superstar who is now committed to basketball and RBR.
Bridget Tobin was forgotten most of last season, she was a minor role player. This year she is the leader of the team. She is Coach Turhan’s coach on the floor and the heart and soul of the team. She is averaging 7.4 points and her toughness and competitive nature you cannot see in a box score. There is a reason I call her “hardest worker.” She is having a dream season to this point under John Truhan.
RBR just may have the most productive Freshman class in the state folks. Chloe Teter is averaging 7.2 point and 2 steals a game. She has been off to a special freshman year. She is looking more like a D1 lock every day. It was she that hit the game winner at the buzzer in RBR’s upset against Manalapan. She has had a breakout freshman year. Caitlyn Decker has averaged 11.5 and is shooting 48% from the 3pt line. She has been special, like when she had 17 points against the #5 team in the state and chased the best player in the state all night on defense. Mia Strand is the final freshman who has surprised everyone. She is a deadly three point shot and more importantly plays with confidence and toughness. She is maybe the best keep secret among babies in the shore. This core will be a major part of what is to come at RBR…
Mia Conti and Brylin Barnes are juniors, who have found new life under John Truhan. They are long defenders who have brought into their roles and are not concerned about stats but rather wins and their teammates…rare today for kids. But winners get it and these two clearly get it. Sophs Abby Bynoe and Devyn Stack are sophomores who are now counted on and are major spark plugs off the bench.
RBR are now thinking big after so many years of just hoping to compete. This year they led the #2 team in the state SJV with seconds left in the first quarter until SJV scored at the buzzer. That is no longer enough for the RBR kids they want more. They expect more from themselves. There is a rebirth of a program, but don’t be surprised, do your homework. John Turhan has made a history of rebuilding programs into champions and that exactly what he expects to do at RBR..