RED BANK - Zach Howarth was not especially preoccupied with walking out of the gymnasium at Red Bank Catholic High School Saturday with a career milestone in hand, but in the end, he made a point of reaching it so he and his St. John Vianney boys basketball team could move on to more important things next time the Lancers take the floor.

Howarth scored his 1,000th career point in the final 20 seconds of Vianney's 63-49 win over Red Bank Catholic Saturday, capping a 25-point game for the senior guard that catapults the Lancers heading into next week's Shore Conference Tournament while also eliminating RBC from tournament contention.

"I don't really count my points, so I didn't know how close I was," said Howarth, who is committed to play at Carnegie Mellon. "I was trying to score when I could because I did want to get to a thousand today if the opportunity was there. With the postseason starting next week, I didn't really want it hanging over my head. I don't think it would have affected me if it came to that, but it's good to know that when the postseason starts, I can just focus on winning."

Howarth scored on two breakaway layups in the final minute to reach the 1,000-point mark, the last of which came off a steal and lay-in to cap the scoring in the game. He entered the game needing 24 points to reach the milestone and left Red Bank Saturday with 1,001 in his career.

COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY BY ROB SAMUELS

Zach Howarth (with ball) celebrates his 1,000th point with his teammates after a win over Red Bank Catholic. (Photo by Rob Samuels)

"He's been on varsity since his freshman year and we knew when he came in that he was going to be a really good player and he's fulfilled every bit of that," St. John Vianney coach Matt Conklin said. "He's made good decisions, he's carried us on the court, even going back to last year. Even as a sophomore, he had a lot of big moments in big games for us, so we've been extremely happy to have him. Hopefully he's not done."

Howarth scored just one point before the second quarter Saturday, but helped key two pivotal runs that helped St. John Vianney end Red Bank Catholic's designs on sneaking into the SCT after a 2-8 start to the season. He scored 11 points in the second quarter, during which the Lancers took control of the game by outscoring RBC 25-12.

The key stretch in the second was an 18-0 run that turned a 17-15 RBC lead into a 33-17 SJV advantage. Howarth scored five points during that run and added one more three in the quarter, while senior Grant Goode keyed the run with eight of his 20 points in the game.

The Caseys, however, responded with a 11-1 run to open the second half and pulled within 39-38 of St. John Vianney with a little more than two minutes left. Howarth ended a stretch of nearly six minutes without a field goal for Vianney by converting a three-point play, which ignited a 9-0 run that stretched into the beginning of the fourth quarter and put SJV back in front by 10, 48-38.

St. John Vianney senior Zach Howarth. (Photo by Rob Samuels)

The closest RBC got from that point on was 50-44, but Howarth answered right back with a jumper to stretch the lead back to eight.

Goode's 20 points leave him 24 shy of 1,000 for his career.

Senior Evan Madigan scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the first quarter to lead Red Bank Catholic. Sophomore Matt Ansell added 11 points and senior Eddie Hahn added 10 in the loss.

"We knew it was important to keep building our resume going into the tournament," Howarth said. "(RBC is) a good team and it was big to get a win to finish the regular season. We've had some tough losses this year, but we feel like we're coming together as a team at the right time."

"We just missed the SCT last year, so getting in was one of our main goals this year, but we also didn't want to stop there," Conklin said. "We have a senior team with some scoring, some length and some good athletes and I think we can be pretty tough on some teams regardless of where we're seeded.

"We already had a spot clinched, but I thought it was important for the guys to play today like it was a playoff game just so we start to get into that mindset we're going to need for next week."