Boys Basketball – Eddie Hahn Scores his 1,000th Point and RBC Remains Alive in Pursuit of an SCT Berth
RED BANK - Eddie Hahn began his varsity athletic career at Red Bank Catholic as a basketball player and like any freshman playing big minutes, he had aspirations of joining the 1,000-point club.
Ten games into his senior season, the 1,000-point club was far from Hahn's mind and not just because he was toeing the company line that "winning comes first." Winning has always come first for Hahn on the football field and basketball court, but at that time, winning wasn't coming all that much for the Caseys basketball team.
"I think anyone who has an opportunity to play varsity as a freshman has that 1,000 number in their head," Hahn said. "To be honest, with the way things were going earlier this year, it really wasn't on my mind. It didn't think about it until I started scoring again."
After a miserable start to the season for his team and a long struggle to find his offensive game, Hahn reached the 1,000-point plateau Tuesday in a 67-63 Matawan as the Caseys continued their transformation from underachiever to postseason threat.
Hahn scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half Tuesday and the Caseys held off a late rally from the Huskies. The 6-foot-3 senior reached the milestone with a three-pointer from the right corner with 4:28 left in the fourth quarter, a shot that put RBC up 60-47 at the time.
The win pulls the Caseys within two wins of a .500 winning percentage with two games remaining before Saturday's Shore Conference Tournament cutoff. RBC will host Jackson Liberty on Friday and St. John Vianney on Saturday.
After winning its first two games of the season, RBC (9-11, 6-8) slid into an eight-game plunge that dropped the Caseys to 2-8 and left them all but out of Shore Conference Tournament contention.
As the team struggled to win, Hahn also struggled to score. Over the first 13 games of the season, during which Red Bank went 4-9, Hahn averaged under 10 points per game and his highest point total to date was 15 points in a loss to Neptune. Coming out of football season, Hahn's adjustment to the basketball season was even more of an adjustment than usual because of a torn meniscus in his knee that he suffered before the football season.
"It was definitely tougher this year," Hahn said. "My legs were feeling even heavier than they usually do. I don't know if it was the meniscus, but about a week ago, I started feeling like my legs were fresh again and I had a little more explosion. At this point, I don't feel any pain in the knee and I've been pretty much a hundred percent for a while now."
Over the last seven games, both Hahn and RBC have turned the tide of their season. Hahn has averaged 21.1 points during a 5-2 stretch for the Caseys that includes a win over defending Shore Conference Tournament champion Rumson-Fair Haven this past Saturday.
"We were 2-8 and it just got to the point where I think we just wanted to try to have fun so that we at least enjoyed the season a little bit," Hahn said. "Once we started to relax and just have fun, things started to flow a little bit.
"Our defense has made a big difference. We finally started holding teams to fifty and under most games and we've been scoring in the sixties pretty consistently. There's just been a lot more rhythm to our offense. More guys are touching the ball and contributing and that has opened some things up."
Tuesday was not one of Hahn's better shooting days as the senior shot 6-for-21 from the floor, but he also flashed his all-around game with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. His milestone-clinching three was the second consecutive conversion from behind the arc to cap his shooting from the floor and his 5-for-11 performance in the second half was a bounceback effort after a 1-for-10 first half.
Hahn also slowed Matawan senior Mergim Gjyriqi in the second half, although the Huskies' top scorer burned the Caseys by scoring all 21 of his team's points in the second quarter to help Matawan remain within striking distance at halftime, 33-30. Gjyriqi finished with a season-high 33 points.
Senior Colin Shaughnessy added 16 points and seven rebounds for Red Bank Catholic, while senior Evan Madigan pitched in 12 and junior Terrence Calandrillo added 11. Madigan scored seven points in the fourth quarter, and sank his last five free throws - all in the final minute - to help the Caseys stave off a late rally by Matawan.
Red Bank Catholic led Matawan 62-50 at the three-minute mark, but the Huskies mounted a surge, beginning with a corner three-pointer by Gjyriqi that made it 62-53 with under 2:30 left.
After the first of four straight missed free throws by RBC, Gjyriqi hit one of two free throws and following an offensive rebound, sophomore Michael Dunne buried a three from the left wing to cap a four-point possession and pull the Huskies within five.
Hahn missed two front ends of a one-and-one the next trip down and RBC turned the ball over after forcing a Matawan turnover to give the Huskies life. Alan Russell stole the ball and after two Matawan misses, Russell scored on a putback as he was fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to cut RBC's lead to 62-60 with 1:05 left.
Madigan followed by hitting one of two foul shots and Gjyriqi's shot on the other end rimmed out and settled on the rim for multiple seconds before falling off and out of bounds to RBC with 35 seconds left. Madigan knocked down two more free throws and Dunne (14 points) followed with a three to again slice Red Bank's lead down to 65-63 with 21 seconds left.
Once more, Madigan hit two free throws and the Huskies failed to convert on their final possession of the game.
Matawan (10-10, 7-6) had an opportunity to clinch an SCT berth with a win on Tuesday and instead will look to qualify by beating Ocean on Tuesday.