By Ella Brockway
SSN Special Correspondent

HOLMDEL—Despite a valiant attempt at a fourth-quarter comeback on Sunday afternoon, the Red Bank Catholic Caseys (14-3, 10-1) fell short in a 68-54 loss to the Staten Island Academy Tigers (12-5) in the first game of the New York/New Jersey Challenge presented by Coaches Choice USA.

RBC junior shooting guard Josie Larkins finished with a team-high 19 points in the fourteen-point loss.

The Caseys opened up the morning with a strong first quarter, scoring 21 points, including nine off of three-pointers from Larkins and sophomore guards Rose Caverly and Hayley Moore. Their defense held one of SIA’s top scorers, senior Corinn Baggs, to just two points in the first, but when the second quarter began, it was the Tigers who took over on the defensive end.

RBC freshman Tia Montague on defense. (Photo by Ella Brockway)

Led by junior Clare Mitchell and the Wagner-bound Baggs, the Tigers commanded the boards in the second quarter. Baggs finished with eight rebounds on the game, and the SIA defense combined to force a total of six turnovers in the first half alone. A late run in the last three minutes of the second quarter gave the Tigers a 31-27 lead at the half.

The Caseys’ defensive switch to a zone in the second half slowed, but couldn’t stop the SIA offense. RBC closed the gap in the third quarter to a four-point deficit, but the Tigers’ defense forced the usually strong-shooting Caseys to work inside instead of beyond the paint.

Moore and Caverly, two of RBC’s best shooters, finished with eight and seven points, respectively.

RBC launched their comeback effort as the fourth quarter began. The Caseys got off to a quick start, and scored on their first two possessions with baskets from Larkins and junior guard Tia Montagne. Montagne led the RBC scoring in the final quarter, with seven points in the last eight minutes of the game, two of which came on a layup that tied the score at 48. Larkins then put the Caseys ahead on a baseline drive with 4:27 to go.

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RBC, however, could not get past its foul troubles in the end, and the Tigers shot 12 free throws in the last five minutes of the game. Freshman guard Emily LaPointe sealed the game for SIA, and went 5-for-6 from the line.

The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Tigers, who improved to 12-5 on the season. They are currently the fifth-ranked team in New York City, per the Showcase stat sheets. The Caseys will return to Shore Conference play on February 2 in an away matchup with Neptune.