Boys Basketball – RBC Gets Back on Track vs. Wall, Reaches 1st SCT Quarters in 25 Years
RED BANK - The last time Red Bank Catholic played a game prior to the Shore Conference Tournament, the Caseys got beat by double-digits at Holmdel to close out its regular season by losing five out of their last seven games.
After six days off, RBC returned to the floor and looked more like the team that won 12 straight games in December and January than the one that stumbled into the postseason.
Four Caseys players scored in double-figures and RBC's defense rose to the occasion during the fourth quarter and both overtime periods Thursday to fight off Wall, 74-68, in double-overtime and earn a trip the the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 1994, according to head coach and RBC alumnus Tyler Schmelz.
PHOTO GALLERY: Wall at Red Bank Catholic by Paula Lopez
"We have been playing good teams," Schmelz said. "Obviously we want to win those games, but you play enough good teams, you are going to struggle at times. I think the week off definitely helped us. We came in with fresh legs, we love playing in our gym so I think we came in with the right mindset."
Senior John Duffy led the scoring attack with 20 points, including four three-pointers during regulation and six points during the two overtime periods. He came up with a critical steal-and-layup to stretch RBC's lead to 69-65 with under 1:30 to go in the second overtime.
"We hit a rough patch, which is going to happen during any season," Duffy said of RBC's prior struggles. "We struggled shooting the ball more than we did during our winning streak, we fell behind and a couple of times and weren't able to come back. We know that wasn't us. We know we can come out and win any game so that's what we had out there tonight."
Junior Charlie Gordinier added 15 points and eight rebounds while classmate Kevin Bauman chipped in 14 points and 13 rebounds, including the first basket of the second overtime that gave RBC the lead for good and the final field goal of the game.
RBC senior Steve Lubischer also pitched in 11 points and chased around Wall leading scorer Quinn Calabrese throughout the game. The junior guard led all scorers with 31 points, including 17 in the first half and all seven of Wall's points in the two overtime periods.
"He's a great player," Schmelz said of Calabrese. "I thought Steve did a really good job on him but he just kept hitting tough shots and getting himself enough room to get them off."
Calabrese hit one of two free throws to tie the game, 61-61, at 28.6 seconds left in regulation and Bauman just missed ending the game when his potential game-winner briefly settled on the front rim before rolling out.
Each team scored just two points in the first overtime, with RBC senior Matt Conley opening the scoring and Calabrese answering with a floater. RBC chewed up more than a minute of the clock on one possession and nearly paid for it when Calabrese stole the ball and got the ball ahead to sophomore Dylan Jacobs with a chance to break the tie. Lubischer, however, ran down the play and blocked the layup attempt to get RBC one last shot in the first overtime.
"One thing we learned in the last seven games is the offense isn't always going to be there," Duffy said. "Shots aren't always going to fall but on the defensive end, we can do that every night. Getting some big steals and some layups off those is a good way to get the offense going."
RBC shot only 3-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch, but it was enough to put the game away. The six-point margin of victory matched the largest lead of the game for either team.
Sophomore Pat Lacey scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half of regulation and senior Trey Dombroski added 13 points and 15 rebounds, including a layup that cut RBC's lead to 61-60 and set up Calabrese to tie the game with his free throw on the next possession.
Four of RBC's five losses during its 2-5 stretch to close three regular season came against teams seeded in the top 12 of the SCT and four of the five also came on the road.
"It's definitely a new season," Duffy said. "Whatever happened in division play, that's over now. Wall is a tough team, we had to battle it out, but we came out with a win. We'll try to carry that over to the next game."
Red Bank Catholic's next game will be against one of the teams it lost two during that stretch. No. 2 Manasquan clobbered the Caseys in Manasquan on Feb. 5 and will be coming off a 96-point performance Thursday against Toms River East.
On the other hand, Red Bank Catholic is also one of only two teams to beat Manasquan this season and Sunday's quarterfinal will be played at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena, where the Caseys won four games to claim the WOBM Christmas Classic championship in December. Among the teams it defeated were fellow quarterfinalists Freehold Township and Middletown South, as well as Marlboro - the team that eliminated Manasquan in the tournament semifinals.
"They are very good," Schmelz said. "Coach (Andrew) Bilodeau is a really good coach. They have a lot of really great players. We have to play together, play hard and give another great effort like this. If we do that, we'll have a chance."