By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor
Amazingly, before they joined forces this year, Mary Beth Chambers and Brynn Farrell had no idea who the other woman was.
In her first year as St. Rose of Belmar girls basketball coach, Chambers had previously forged a successful AAU coaching career. Farrell, now a junior, led New Jersey in scoring with a 31.7 scoring average at Metuchen High School as a freshman. She was averaging 28.7 points as a sophomore before breaking her wrist three games into the season.
Both were highly visible, but never became aware of each other until Farrell transferred to St. Rose in July.
Their paths never crossed in AAU, and Chambers followed her daughter’s basketball career at the University of Pennsylvania so closely that she only paid attention to Shore Conference teams and was not familiar with the goings on in Middlesex County where Farrell played.
Since coming together, however, they have gotten along famously.
“It’s been awesome playing for her,” Farrell said. “She’s amazing. She teaches me something new every single day at practice, always bettering my game.”
“Brynn was a pleasant surprise,” Chambers said. “She’s just a super great kid – she tries hard; she wants to be the best she can. She wants to help make the team good and contribute any way she can.”
The result was a 23-2 record for St. Rose as of Feb. 20. The Purple Roses are the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Tournament (and St. John Vianney is No. 2).
St. Rose graduated all five starters from last year’s state championship team – all are playing in college and four are at Division I programs. With Sam Mikos, Lauren Lithgow, Abby Antognoli and Maggie Stapleton the only players with varsity experience, St. Rose brought in five transfers. When her family moved from Metuchen to their summer house in Ortley Beach year-round last summer, Brynn switched to St. Rose – something she had considered since the start of high school.
She has helped lead the way with an 18.5 scoring average. It pales in comparison to the numbers Farrell put up at Metuchen, but she is enjoying basketball a lot more now that she has a strong cast to play with.
Farrell’s game involves a little bit of everything, whether it’s penetration to the hoop, shooting a 3-pointer or hitting a pull-up jumper.
She has made great strides in a short time, as she did not start playing until fifth grade. During middle school, she met trainer Kerry Foderingham through playing AAU, and credits him for developing her game.
Her freshman year was nothing short of remarkable, but Farrell did not get caught up in leading the state in scoring. “I was more focused on what I could do to improve. I just wanted to keep bettering my game.”
A member of St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, Metuchen, Farrell turned to her faith “100 percent” when she broke her wrist last year.
“I believe God has a plan,” she said. “I just knew that God definitely had a reason for me to do that. Not that he wanted me to break my wrist, but he wanted me to get better from it.”
She has done just that. “It was good and bad,” Farrell said. “I couldn’t play, but it made me work harder and focus on other things I needed to do.”