Boys Basketball – No. 5 RBC Earns Statement Win over No. 3 Manasquan
RED BANK - Whether on the gridiron or the hardwood, Red Bank Catholic's four crossover athletes between its football and boys basketball teams have a taste for winning.
After Thursday night's performance, the prospect of the basketball squad approaching the heights reached by its unbeaten football team are looking less and less like a pipe dream and more and more plausible.
Junior swingman and uncommitted FBS-level football recruit Charlie Gordinier scored 21 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists and the Caseys - No. 5 in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10 - cruised to a statement win over No. 3 Manasquan, 62-50, for their eighth straight win.
"Ever since I came here, our goal was to make the Shore Conference (Tournament) finals or win states," said Gordinier, a varsity starter on the basketball team since his freshman season and a football prospect with scholarship offers from Pittsburgh and Rutgers. "I definitely think we have a chance this year and next year."
Notre Dame football commit Kevin Bauman turned in a stellar defensive performance against Manasquan leading scorer Alex Galvan (five points, eight rebounds, three blocks) while posting six points, eight boards, five assists and two blocks of his own.
"Every game is a big game, but knowing the tradition of RBC vs. Manasquan, we wanted to play our best game tonight," Bauman said. "Manasquan's a great team with a great winning tradition so to get a great team win on our home court is a great feeling."
Boston College football commit and Caseys All-Shore quarterback Steve Lubischer also chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds for RBC. Senior John Duffy - a soccer player at RBC in the fall - added 15 points on five three-pointers.
"Our group out there has a very competitive edge - they want to win," Red Bank Catholic coach Tyler Schmelz said. "You can sense it being around them and they play very hard. It's fun to come to practice, it's fun to play the games; there is a lot of energy and they all feed off each other."
Red Bank Catholic's mesh of two-sport stars is an outlier in a more specialized landscape, but the results are hard to dispute. The Caseys are 10-1 and are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak that includes wins over No. 6 Freehold Township, No. 10 Middletown South, No. 7 Marlboro and No. 3 Manasquan.
Their lone loss was a 26-point loss at No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven in the third game of the season and the Caseys have since rounded into basketball form as they distance themselves from their state championship football victory over Mater Dei Prep on Nov. 24.
"Since the Rumson game, we have gotten a lot better," Gordinier said. "We were still a little rusty coming off football season. We weren't hitting on shots and they were on fire from three. Since then, we have been working hard in practice and really picking up our intensity."
Gordinier, Bauman, Lubischer and starting point guard and Fordham football commit M.J. Wright were all All-Shore performers on the football field and, along with the sharp-shooting Duffy and senior Matt Conley, have looked like the core of a basketball team that will challenge for what has become a wide-open race for the No. 2 spot in the Shore Conference behind nationally-ranked Ranney.
"We have the guys to do it, we have the coaches to do it, we have the backing from our fans," Bauman said. "Everything you could want, we have that behind us and this group really loves to compete and loves to win. We are going to keep working hard every single day because we know we have the possibility to go far."
RBC's athleticism was too much for Manasquan Thursday, with Bauman neutralizing Galvan (20 points-per-game entering play Thursday); Lubischer slashing to the basket, Wright and Lubischer leading the defensive effort against a relatively inexperienced Manasquan back court; and Bauman, Gordinier and Lubischer leading a rebounding effort against one of the Shore's top rebounding teams.
"We knew defense was going to be a key factor in this game and that's really what's been our bread-and-butter," Bauman said. "We stuck to our defensive schemes and our defensive techniques - staying low, moving our feet, boxing out - that's what it all comes down to."
"It's such an athletic group and that's something you can't coach," Schmelz said. "The great thing is they want to be coached, they want to work hard every day so it just makes them that much harder to deal with on the court. You have Bauman who is so physical and strong and agile and guys like M.J. and Lubischer are so quick on both ends of the floor. Then when you have Charlie and Duffy shooting it like they did tonight, it's a lot for a team to have to contend with.
The duo of Gordinier and Duffy also combined to shoot a combined 10-for-17 from beyond the three-point line, with Gordinier checking in at 5-for-8 and Duffy at 5-for-9. Gordiner and Duffy helped break the game open in the second quarter, when the Caseys went on a 10-0 run to take a 28-14 lead.
"Sometimes it's as simple as who makes shots," Schmelz said. "When we lost to Rumson, they were making them and we weren't. Tonight, we were hitting shots and Manasquan made a few less. When you have two even teams, sometimes it's that simple."
Manasquan chipped its deficit down to five, 43-38, early in the fourth quarter, but the Caseys answered with six straight points on baskets by Wright, Lubischer and Gordinier.
Senior Brad McCabe led Manasquan Thursday with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
After Thursday night's action at the Shore, RBC, Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven are currently in a three-way tie atop the Shore Conference Class A Central division at 5-1 in divisional play. The three teams have all beaten each other soundly, with Manasquan defeating Rumson, 65-48, Rumson beating RBC, 67-41, and RBC beating Manasquan by 12 points on Thursday night. The home team has won each of the three games.
"There have a look of quality teams in the Shore and not a lot separates us," Schmelz said. "Home court is going to be a big factor in these games. If one of us can get a big road win here or there, it's going to make a big difference when it comes down to seeding and stuff like that."
RBC's next test will be against Middletown South at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase Saturday at Brookdale Community College. The Caseys beat Middletown South - currently on a four-game winning streak - in the WOBM Christmas Classic semifinals, 75-59.
"That's the thing about our division and our schedule," Schmelz said. "There's no rest. There's no time to pat yourself on the back. We have to get right back to work because we are playing a really good team that's thinking of beating us and making a statement of their own."