RED BANK – For as well as the Red Bank Catholic boys basketball team – No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – had played during its five-game winning heading into Friday’s game against No. 6 Manasquan, the Caseys could not fully grasp how far they had come since a 2-3 start until they played the Warriors for the second time this season.

Exactly five weeks after taking a 28-point loss to Manasquan on opening night, Red Bank Catholic returned the favor by beating the Warriors, 68-52, for its sixth straight win. The win pulls the Caseys into a first-place tie with Manasquan in the Shore Conference Class A Central division.

Red Bank Catholic sophomore Evan Madigan (right) scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Caseys past Manasquan on Friday night. (Photo by Matt Manley)

 

The Warriors won the first meeting, 59-31, in Manasquan and the Caseys reached their point total from the previous game within the first minute of the third quarter. Sophomore Evan Madigan led the charge with 24 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

Madigan began the season on the junior varsity team before getting a call to the varsity team. Since joining the varsity squad, Madigan has worked his way into the starting lineup and already has two 20-point games. He scored 20 points in an overtime win over Shore on Jan. 13, giving the sophomore two big scoring games against two contenders in Class A Central.

“I wasn’t really thinking about scoring a lot this year and I still don’t really think about it,” Madigan said. “We have a lot of good players, and I just thought about helping out any way I could.”

Senior center Quenton Nelson added 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win, while juniors Liam Byrne and Joe Montano scored nine points each. Byrne and Madigan each knocked down three 3-pointers, combining for six of Red Bank Catholic’s seven threes.

“We definitely have the shooters to make teams pay,” Nelson said. “We have been working on our ball movement all season long and we’re still trying to fine-tune some things there, but when teams have to guard four shooters, it opens up the middle, and we can get pretty much any shot we want.”

Manasquan thwarted Red Bank Catholic’s offense over the final 3:30 of the second quarter, closing the half on a 10-0 run during that stretch thanks to a swarming 1-3-1, trapping defense. The Caseys, however, solved the defense in the third quarter thanks to a cluster of corner threes from Madigan, Byrne and Montano. By the end of the third, RBC had built the lead to 47-35.

“We just talked about attacking the seams of the zone and looking for the shooter in the corner,” Madigan said. “That’s usually the best way to beat it.”

While the Caseys shot their way past Manasquan on the offensive end, Nelson anchored the paint on both ends and created offense from the post. The 6-6 senior grabbed his 12 rebounds despite battling foul trouble from the early part of the second quarter on. He battled Manasquan sophomore Ryan Jensen, who scored 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Warriors.

The first loss of the season to Manasquan began a roller-coaster start for RBC in which the Caseys alternated wins and losses for the first six games of the season and never played a game that was decided by fewer than 10 points. RBC finally strung two wins together by beating Raritan and Holmdel in consecutive games, including a 51-27 win over Holmdel just before Holmdel went on its recent stretch of five straight games with at least 60 points.

During the six-game winning streak, Red Bank Catholic has wins over Holmdel, Shore, Rumson-Fair Haven and now Manasquan, considered to be the four other teams vying for the Class A Central championship. The Caseys have begun to grasp the new system under first-year coach James Catalano, both on offense and defense.

“Things just started clicking for us after our last loss (to Red Bank) and ever since then, we’ve had great practices and guys are getting the hang of things,” Nelson said. “We haven’t even fully executed the way we can, and we’ve been beating teams by a lot. Once we start playing the way we can, we’ll be even tougher.”

 

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 68, Manasquan 52

1

2

3

4

F

Manasquan (8-2, 6-1)

10

14

11

17

52

Red Bank Catholic (8-3, 6-1)

20

9

18

21

68

 

Manasquan (52): Tommy Toole 5 2-5 12, Jack Fay 3 0-0 6, Ryan Jensen 7 5-8 19, Aidan McMenaman 1 1-2 4, Jack Sheehan 2 0-0 4,  Nick Gilly 0 0-0 0, Ryan Kavanaugh 0 2-2 2, Luke Tausek 0 0-0 0, Matt Paturzo 0 2-2 2, John White 1 0-0 3, Liam McAlister 0 0-0 0, Shane Flanagan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 12-19 52

Three-pointers: McMenaman, White

Red Bank Catholic (68): Joe Montano 2 4-4 9, Evan Madigan 8 5-6 24, Quenton Nelson 6 3-11 15, Eddie Hahn 2 2-5 6, Liam Byrne 3 0-0 9, T.J. Verdiglione 1 0-0 2, Tim O’Hara 1 1-2 3, Colin Shaughnessy 0 0-0 0, Kevin Fazio 0 0-0 0, Tom Montano 0 0-0 0, Michael Travers 0 0-0 0, Liam Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 15-28 68

Three-pointers: J. Montano, Madigan 3, Byrne 3