Watching Immaculate Conception senior All-America forward Sam Fuehring get up a full head of steam and drive the basket is really quite a sight to behold.
Legs fully extended. Ball tucked in close. Huge ponytail flying out behind her, and an amazing look of concentration etched on her face.
Fascinating. Better still, intimidating.
Especially if you are standing between Fuehring and the basket.
The Louisville recruit has been the irresistible force through the first four rounds of the Bergen County girls basketball tournament, averaging 23.5 points per game and dominating the last three games. So it should be quite interesting Sunday at Ramapo College’s Bradley Center when Fuehring and the rest of the third-seeded Blue Wolves meet Immaculate Heart in the title game.
The top-seeded Blue Eagles, who are 21-1 after beating Northern Highlands, 50-38, on Thursday, are North Jersey’s premier defensive team, priding themselves on their ability to contain the opposition on a nightly basis.
Defense is IHA’s bread and butter; a big reason they have won 17 straight games and hold the top spot in The Record girls basketball Top 25.
So what happens when the irresistible force meets an immovable object? The answer is likely to be the key to the Bergen County title.
“We have to be able to execute offensively,” said Immaculate Conception coach Jeff Horohonich, whose team is playing in its first county title game.
“We’ve put in some wrinkles and things, so we’ll see.
“They are a good defensive team, but we’ve played good defensive teams. St. John Vianney. Rumson. We’ve seen defenses just as good, if not better.”
Fuehring is obviously the challenge, but as good as she’s played, she is not a strictly a one girl show. Senior forward Jasmine Gee can be a force around the basket, and the IC guards, especially sophomore Khay’la Latimer, can shoot.
“They are the most dangerous team in our area, and I’ve been saying that from Day One,” said IHA coach Steve Silver. “Their physical presence, their athleticism, their ability to play this game at a high level; that’s difficult for anyone.”
Even the 6-foot-1 Fuehring isn’t a predictable threat, and that’s what makes her even more dangerous.
“I’ve seen Sam at her greatest point over the summer,” said IHA senior guard Caitlin Roche, who has stepped up as a top-shelf defender this season. “This is a big test for us. Her presence on the court is incredible, but you don’t know when she’s going to shoot the outside jump shot.”
The Blue Eagles have allowed only 102 points in their four tournament games. Even during their much-ballyhooed offensive slump of two weeks ago, the Blue Eagles beat Holy Angels (twice) and Ramapo — two teams ranked in The Record Top 25 — because their defense never faltered.