RED BANK - Red Bank Catholic senior Josie Larkins watched most of the third quarter from the bench with three fouls during Saturday's South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal game against Shore Conference rival St. John Vianney and the results with her out of the lineup were troubling.

With the Caseys in need of a spark in the fourth quarter, Larkins re-entered the game and helped her team turn back the most accomplished program in the state's most accomplished conference.

Larkins drained three three-pointers and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter Saturday to help Red Bank Catholic - the No. 2 seed in the bracket - rally for a 47-39 win over No. 3 St. John Vianney - the rubber match between the longtime Monmouth County rivals.

Red Bank Catholic celebrates its 47-39 win over St. John Vianney. (Photo by Matt Manley(

Red Bank Catholic will play for the South Jersey Non-Public A championship Tuesday at Jackson Liberty against No. 5 Paul VI, which knocked off top-seeded Camden Catholic on Saturday. The Caseys are in search of their ninth sectional championship and first since winning Non-Public A and reaching the Tournament of Champions semifinals in 2013.

"It was so important to beat them, especially for the seniors," said Larkins, who finished with a game-high 17 points. "They've ended our season the past three years, so we just kind of wanted to give it back to them."

Both RBC and St. John Vianney defeated the other in previous meetings this year, with the Caseys winning a regular-season meeting in Red Bank and the Lancers winning a Shore Conference Tournament semifinal showdown in Toms River.

"I think since we were in our gym, we were a little more confident in making our own shots," Larkins said. "We had good shots in the tournament. They just didn't go in and luckily, this time they did go in."

Red Bank Catholic's defense did the job Saturday, but it took time for its offense to bring home the win. The Caseys turned the ball over 20 times in the first 19 minutes and a 12-0 run by St. John Vianney gave the Lancers a 27-19 lead just past the midway point of the third quarter.

"Her and Katie (Rice) did an awesome job playing with fouls in the second quarter," Red Bank Catholic coach Joe Montano said. "I'm not the type to take kids out with fouls and just let them sit. They've got to learn to play with fouls. Or else you're going to go home with those kids sitting on the bench."

From that point on, however, Red Bank Catholic committed only one turnover and ripped off a 16-2 run that turned the eight-point deficit into a 35-29 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Larkins hit a pair of three pointers within 40 seconds of one another to give the Caseys a 31-29 lead.

St. John Vianney trimmed RBC's lead down to 35-33 on a follow by senior Kimi Evans and a jumper by junior Madison Doring, but Larkins answered with her third three-pointer of the quarter to stretch the lead back to five points.

"You've got to give Josie a lot of credit," Montano said. "Over four years of coming here, who's the first kid at practice? Who's the last kid at practice? Who's the kid who's calling me up to come in and shoot on Sundays? It's not an accident when a kid like that performs like she did today."

Red Bank Catholic shot 9-for-12 from the free-throw line from that point on and held Vianney to just a three-pointer by Doring until senior Julia Ramos hit another three in the final seconds. After scoring 23 points in the first three quarters, RBC put up 24 in the fourth.

Red Bank Catholic mitigated its turnover woes in the first half by forcing the Lancers into a slew of their own. Both teams turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and combined for as many turnovers as points. The Caseys took a 17-15 lead into the halftime locker room.

In the first two meetings between the teams, RBC held Evans - the 6-3 center heading to Seton Hall next year - to a combined nine points. She scored five in the Lancers' regular-season loss and four in the SCT win.

Evans was more of a factor on Saturday, finishing with a team-high 13 points and nine rebounds. She scored six points during Vianney's 12-0 third-quarter run.

While the Caseys kept Evans quiet in the Shore Conference Tournament loss, they still gave up 54 points to the Lancers. That prompted Montano to mix up his defensive looks against Vianney Saturday, with RBC starting the game off in a 2-3 zone before phasing into its more common man-to-man configuration.

"We changed defenses a little bit more this time and we didn't do that last time," Montano said. "That might have helped us stay out of foul trouble a little bit and got them out of sync. I don't know. The bottom line is the last time, we played absolutely no defense. We were out of position, we were not communicating and there were not a lot of good things from us. In fairness to them, they made us pay for it."

RBC senior Maureen Coakley and junior Katie Rice shared the duties guarding Evans in the first two games and the two split the assignment in the second half. Once Coakley picked up her fourth foul, Rice took over.

"It's not easy (to guard Evans). It's hard work, especially for Katie," Montano said. "Katie's going to be a two-man in college and she was down their fighting with a really good six-three kid who is strong. You've got to be physical, you've got to move with the ball and they have the confidence that their teammates - when they are fronting - are going to be behind."

After putting away the defending Tournament of Champions winner Saturday, RBC will continue its push for a second Non-Public A title in five years and eight overall, as well as its first Tournament of Champions title since 2000.

"We just knew this wasn't going to be our last game," Larkins said. "We want to keep on going. Definitely, for the seniors at least, it was our last game in this gym ever, so coming back in this game, we were really excited."

 

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 47, St. John Vianney 39

1 2 3 4 F
St. John Vianney (23-5) 6 9 12 12 39
Red Bank Catholic (25-3) 9 8 6 24 47

St. John Vianney (39): Sarah Karpell 1 0-0 3, Julia Ramos 2 2-2 7, Kimi Evans 6 1-4 13, Courtney Dobrzynski 0 0-0 0, Sajada Bonner 0 2-2 2, Madison Doring 4 0-0 9, Rahmena Henderson 1 1-1 3, Brelynn Bellamy 0 0-0 0, Sarah Furch 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 6-9 39

Three-pointers: Karpell, Ramos, Doring

Red Bank Catholic (47): Tia Montagne 2 3-6 7, Josie Larkins 6 1-2 17, Maureen Coakley 1 2-2 4, Rose Caverly 1 7-8 9, Katie Rice 3 2-3 8, Hayley Moore 0 2-2 2, Amanda Hart 0 0-0 0, Fabienne Eggenschwiler 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 17-23 47

Three-pointers: Larkins 4

 

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