RED BANK -- There was a point early in the season at which the Red Bank Catholic boys basketball team looked dependent on senior center Tyler Burnham to thrive in order for the team to play well enough to beat the other top-10-caliber outfits in the Shore Conference.

That has not been the case lately for the Caseys -- No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16 rankings -- and on Thursday night, five players posted a scoring output higher than that of Burnham, led by a 24-point performance by junior Ryan Prior that keyed a 71-63 win over No. 6 Rumson Fair Haven.

"There is always a rivalry between us," Prior said. "We started off hot and kept it going. We had 28 points in the fourth quarter, we hit those free throws and that was a game-changer."

Prior did not miss in the first quarter, hitting 3-of-3 three-point attempts and two free throws to score 11 of his team's 13 points, but Rumson matched the Caseys' 13, with junior David Carr shooting 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

From the second quarter on, the rest of RBC's starting five plus junior Sean Saxton off the bench joined in on the scoring. Senior Pasquale Sabino -- who transferred to RBC from Rumson after his sophomore year -- scored 16 points to go with seven rebounds and three steals, senior Colin Cavanaugh added 14 points and three assists, Saxton poured in nine and senior point guard Luke Iasparro added five.

"If I start hot, the confidence is usually there the rest of the game," Prior said. "The big thing is I start shooting, they are going to guard me closer, so then it's time to give it to someone else and they are going to get a good shot."

Burnham contributed eight rebounds to go with four points and RBC was effective both with the 6-foot-6 center on the floor and with a smaller lineup that did not include him. That was not the case in RBC's December loss to Colts Neck, when the Caseys also did not have Saxton available and lost to the Cougars, 57-26. On the first Saturday of January, Burnham was a force for RBC in a two-point win over Red Bank Regional.

"We can play with anyone on the court," Prior said. "On any given night, someone could score 20 and the next game, maybe everyone scores 15. We all know how to play together."

The two rivals traded shots Thursday throughout most of the first half, with Rumson tying the game at 21 on a post-up-and-finish by senior Andrew Goodes. Cavanaugh answered with a three-pointer and Bulldogs senior Theo Carlston answered with a putback to make it 24-23. RBC then closed with five straight points from Iasparro on a three-pointer and Saxton on a steal-and-layup to make it 29-23 at halftime.

Rumson spent the third quarter drawing within a basket of RBC, only to have the Caseys answer with mini-runs that grew their lead as large as nine. Rumson senior Leo Passalaqua hit a pair of three-pointers at the end of the quarter to pull his team within 43-40 heading to the fourth.

RBC took control of the game with an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter, with each of its five starters -- Prior, Iasparro, Burnham, Sabino and Cavanaugh -- converting a field goal during the run. Sabino's basket was the front-end of a three-point play that extended the lead to 52-40 and Cavanaugh drove for the run-capping score that made it 54-40.

Rumson labored to get back within 60-52, but Prior delivered the decisive blow in the form of a three-point play that put the Caseys back up by 11.

Starting with Prior's free throw to make it 63-52, RBC shot 9-for-11 from the free-throw line to close the game out. Rumson, meanwhile, shot 11-for-21 from the line for the game, including 5-for-11 in the fourth quarter.

Carr scored 21 points and senior Nick Rigby added 17 points and nine rebounds to lead Rumson.

"They are all big, strong physical kids, so we knew we were going to have to play a physical game," Prior said. "Dave (Carr) came out hitting a bunch of threes and then we kind of said let's focus on the paint. We'll contest their threes as best we can but let's make sure we rebound and if they make them, it is what it is."

Thursday's win caps a challenging week for RBC, which started with a 58-53 road loss against No. 15 Howell. The Caseys got back on track on Tuesday with a 63-61 win over No. 11 Manalapan on a game-winning three by Cavanaugh with 43 seconds left.

RBC's win keeps its hope alive for at least a piece of the Shore Conference Class B North championship. The Caseys (12-6, 5-3) would need Rumson (12-4, 5-2) to lose at least one of its last three division and crossover games vs. Middletown North, Howell and Middletown South and for Colts Neck to beat current division leader Red Bank.

If the Caseys get all of that help, the could clinch a share of the division title by beating Middletown South on Tuesday and Red Bank at home on Feb. 1.

"We're in the middle of five games in seven days, so we knew it was going to be a battle," Prior said. "Every game this week has been close and some didn't go our way, but in the others, we found a way to win."

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