Balanced Effort Leads Red Bank Catholic Past Neptune to Set Up Showdown With Colts Neck
By Bobby Klatt - Shore Sports Network contributor
RED BANK - Another balanced scoring night powered Red Bank Catholic's 59-42 win over visiting Neptune on Thursday to make it back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams and set up a big early-season game against Colts Neck in Class B North next week.
After defeating cross-town rival Red Bank Regional on Jan. 2 for the Bucs' first loss, the Caseys (7-2, 4-1) welcomed the Scarlet Fliers (2-5, 0-4) in another key divisional match-up. It was a tale of two halves as momentum shifted in the middle of the third quarter when RBC closed the last four minutes of the period on a 12-1 run behind 3-pointers by senior guard Joe Montano and junior guard Eddie Hahn.
This positive play continued into the fourth quarter as they opened up the first two minutes with another 6-0 run to make it a 42-32 lead with an 18-1 run that bridge the two quarters. From there, RBC took advantage of each possession to drain the clock, and free throws put the game out of reach to give the Caseys another big win. It also set up an anticipated meeting with first-place Colts Neck in Class B North on Monday.
The Caseys had another balanced offensive attack led by senior guard Liam Byrne with 19 points. Hahn added 10 of his 14 points by attacking the basket in the second half.
“We have to keep being patient on the offensive end and becoming a little more fundamentally sound on half court sets,” head coach Jim Catalano said. “We will be where we need to be on the defensive end, but we need to work on sets that don’t always make us shoot a lot of threes.”
“We have developed a bond on the court that we believe in anyone to take the shot at any time,” Byrne said. “It seems like anybody can have a big night.”
With two teams who love to shoot from the outside, there was no shortage of threes flying in the game. RBC played conservative in the second half, but still finished shooting 6-for-18 from long range. Neptune tried to get back in the game late to no avail, finishing 6-for-22 from downtown.
“If you stray away from what you do too much, it will come back to bite you,” Catalano said. “We can shoot the ball. As long as we are getting the shots we want, we are going to take them.”
The first half was a bit different than how things eventually played out. RBC jumped out and scored the first four points before the Scarlet Fliers went on an 8-0 run of their own behind two 3-pointers from sophomore guard Barry Brown.
Neptune used its quickness to force bad shots and take a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter. RBC changed it up on the defensive end by switching to a match-up 2-3 zone that contained the Scarlet Fliers and limited their lead to 23-21 at the half.
“We matched up a little different than traditionally, and they had some trouble figuring out where the match-ups were,” Catalano said. “We had to make sure we stayed in front and got out on shooters. They were quick, so we had to do something to offset it.”
Brown, a transfer from Cardinal McCarrick, had a breakout game in the los, tying the game high with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. He had 13 of his team’s 23 first-half points.
Even with plenty of season still to play, wins like these are huge steps in the fight for the top spot in the B North. The Caseys can tie Colts Neck for first place with a win on Monday.
“Two real good wins and the kids are getting confidence and they deserve it,” said Catalano. “We just got to move on and get ready for the next game. There is no easy game in the conference.”