Boys Basketball – Madigan Sparks RBC’s 22-Point Comeback vs. Jackson Mem.
TOMS RIVER – For the first eight minutes of its WOBM Christmas Classic first-round game against 15th-seeded Jackson Memorial, the Red Bank Catholic boys basketball team looked like the team that not only did not belong in the tournament, but did not belong in any varsity basketball tournament.
That left the Caseys – the No. 7 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 in addition to the WOBM Classic No. 2 seed – just enough time to show why they were pegged as the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Junior Evan Madigan hit six of his seven 3-pointers in the second half – including two go-ahead threes in the final 45 seconds – and the Caseys completed an improbable comeback to escape with a 51-49 win over Jackson Memorial. The Caseys advanced to face seventh-seeded Donovan Catholic in the quarterfinals at 4:15 p.m. at Pine Belt Arena on Saturday.
“That was a crazy game,” said Madigan, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “We went from not being able to hit any shots to making a bunch of shots. We just kept battling and chipping away and we came out with a win.”
Red Bank Catholic trailed 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and did not take its first lead until Madigan buried a three from the right wing with 45 seconds left to put the Caseys ahead, 48-47. Jackson Memorial senior Jimmy Markham responded by hitting a pull-up jumper from inside of 10 feet to give Jackson Memorial the lead back with 33 seconds, and Madigan came back with a game-winning 3-pointer off the dribble from the top of the key with 21 seconds left.
“I was feeling it at that point,” Madigan said. “All game long, guys were setting me up for good looks, and I was able to knock a few of them down. On that last shot, I just took a dribble, thought I had enough space and thought, ‘Why not? Somebody has to make a shot.’”
After a timeout by Jackson Memorial, Madigan stole the ball with 7.6 seconds left to seal the win. Jackson Memorial had only four team fouls at the time and needed to use nearly five seconds just to commit its seventh team foul and send Red Bank Catholic to the free-throw line. Senior Joe Montano missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Jackson Memorial could not get a shot off.
The Jaguars (0-2) led 45-38 with 3:11 left and went to the free-throw line for four shots after RBC junior Eddie Hahn committed his fourth foul and then picked up a technical foul. C.J. Blue made one of the four free throws and Red Bank Catholic (2-0) forced a turnover to get the ball back trailing by only eight points.
“They made some mistakes, turned the ball over, missed some free throws and that opened the door for us a little bit,” Madigan said. “We didn’t really hit our free throws either, but we were able to limit the turnovers in the second half.”
Madigan began his hot finish with a three to cut the Jackson lead to 46-41, and after a steal by Kevin Fazio on the other end, Madigan drew a foul on a drive to the basket. The junior guard made the first foul shot and rebounded his own miss on the second. After a timeout, senior Liam Byrne buried a 3-pointer from the right side of the top of key to cut the Jackson Memorial lead to 46-45 with 1:10 left.
Jackson Memorial senior Eddie Landi made one of two free throws with a minute left to make it 47-45 before Madigan answered with his go-ahead three from the right wing for RBC’s first lead.
Byrne finished with 11 points for Red Bank Catholic and Montano added nine, including a 30-foot heave as time expired in the second quarter to cut Jackson Memorial’s halftime lead to 32-20.
Seniors C.J. Blue and junior Chris Hawryluk each scored 10 to lead Jackson Memorial, while Markham finished with nine. The Jaguars stormed out to a 22-0 lead after one quarter thanks to six first-quarter threes. Jackson Memorial did not hit a three after the first quarter, while Red Bank Catholic knocked down 13.
“We couldn’t make a shot and they couldn’t miss,” Madigan said. “We felt like our shots were going to start falling. We just had to pick up our intensity on defense. If we were going to get back in the game, we couldn’t let them keep shooting like that.”
All four quarters ended eventfully Saturday, with a buzzer-beater to end the second, a disallowed shot to end the first and a foul on a half-court shot to end the third. Hahn hit a long three at the end of the first quarter, but he was ruled to have released the shot after the buzzer sounded. At the end of the third, Markham pulled up for a shot just inside of half court and was fouled in the act of shooting. He made two of the three free throws to put Jackson Memorial up 40-34 going into the fourth quarter.