The Red Bank Regional boys basketball team entered the final week of the regular season with little to play for other than pride. With a 6-11 record, the Bucs were eliminated from Shore Conference Tournament contention and their opening-round NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Tournament was still three weeks away.

Facing one of their toughest weeks of competition this season, pride turned out to be enough of a motivator for the Red Bank players.

In three games last week, Red Bank took down two Shore Conference Tournament teams - including one of the top-five seeds - and beat the Shore Conference's No. 1 scorer to pick up a head of steam pushing toward the state tournament, as well as earn the Week 7 Jersey Mike's Team of the Week Award.

The Bucs opened their week with a 54-47 win over Matawan, which was the No. 15 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament. Junior Drew Valentino led the way with 19 points and Red Bank avenged an overtime loss at home to the Huskies earlier in the year.

The next triumph came against Middletown North and its senior scoring dynamo, Rob Higgins. The Bucs dominated the Lions, 53-37, and bottled up Higgins (28.4 points per game) and limited him to 19 points. Valentino again delivered for Red Bank by scoring 18 points while senior Dean Hottmann posted 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Wins over Matawan and Middletown North would have constituted a good enough showing for Red Bank, but the Bucs saved their loudest statement for the weekend. On Saturday in front of a spirited home crowd, Red Bank rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to upset Rumson-Fair Haven in the Ridge Road Rivalry game, 50-47.

Junior Matt Weidman spearheaded the comeback win with 23 points and senior Liam Joyce poured in 18 to help the Bucs knock off the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

On top of its standout play this week, Red Bank also stepped up by turning its rivalry game against Rumson on Saturday into a fundraiser for one of its more accomplished alumni. The Ridge Road Rivalry was the first game of a double-header with Ranney and Asbury Park and the all the proceeds from tickets sales were donated to Max Strong, which raises money for the family of Ranney coach Tahj Holden, whose son Max is fighting pediatric cancer, and other families facing childhood cancer.

Holden is a former standout center at Red Bank who led the Bucs to a Shore Conference Tournament championship before going on to win an NCAA championship at Maryland in 2001-02. Holden now coaches the No. 1 team in the state, which beat Asbury Park in the second end of the double-header, 72-47.

 

2019 Team of the Week Winners

Week 1: Matawan

Week 2: Wall

Week 3: Red Bank Catholic

Week 4: Toms River North

Week 5: Middletown South

Week 6: Ocean

 

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