RED BANK - Three seasons have passed since the last time the Red Bank Regional boys basketball team last won the Albert E. Martin Buc Holiday Classic - the tournament it has hosted just about every year since 1983.

This may be a completely different team from the 2014-15 squad that won the December classic, but the way these Bucs play is not so much.

Eight different players got on the scoreboard in Friday's semifinal game against Monmouth Regional and none scored more than 11 points - a winning recipe once again for Red Bank in a 56-46 win over the surging Falcons.

Red Bank will take on Notre Dame in the Buc Classic final on Sunday at 5 p.m., when the Bucs will attempt to win their record 12th title in the history of the tournament.

Red Bank junior Matt Weidman puts up a shot vs. Monmouth. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Junior Matt Weidman and senior Liam Joyce each scored 11 points to lead the balanced offensive effort, with Weidman also added five rebounds and four assists. Junior Drew Valentino and senior Brian Forsman each added nine points for Red Bank, with Forsman doing his damage off the bench. The Red Bank bench contributed 18 points to the cause on Friday.

The Bucs stormed out to a 16-2 lead in the first five-plus minutes and built the lead as high as 25-6 by the middle of the second quarter. Weidman scored nine of his points in the first half and Joyce poured in eight before halftime, at which point Red Bank led 31-17.

Senior Dan Forsman led Monmouth with 17 points and eight rebounds and sophomore A.J. Po added 14 for the Falcons, which entered the game with three straight wins of at least 20 points. The latest in that trio was a 66-46 win over Middletown North in the opening round of the Buc Classic and the Falcons limited two-time Shore Conference scoring leader Rob Higgins to 17 points.

Monmouth picked up some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when senior Dayshawn Porter hit a running bank shot as time expired in the third to pull his team within 41-27. That basket set off a 10-0 run by the Falcons, cutting the Red Bank lead to 41-35 after a drive by junior Kerron Holley (10 points).

Red Bank, however, would not allow Monmouth to get any closer. Joyce scored on a follow to end the run and Valentino converted a three-point play off a find from Weidman to stretch the lead to 46-37. That was one of several answers the Bucs had to Monmouth's attempts to draw closer over the final five minutes.

Red Bank squandered a 14-point halftime lead to Wall on opening night and has responded by winning three out of four - including Friday's successful defense of another 14-point halftime deficit against a team playing well.

The Bucs endured a 4-20 season a year ago, but with most of its team back, plus the additions of Valentino - a junior transfer from Christian Brothers Academy - and freshman Patrick Murray - Red Bank is one win away from matching its 2017-18 win total before the calendar turns to 2019.

More importantly, it would mark an even dozen Buc Classic championships for the host school.

 

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