Boys Basketball – RBC Holds Off Mater Dei for 1st SCT Semi in 26 Years
TOMS RIVER - Red Bank Catholic's Sunday afternoon boys basketball Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal against Mater Dei Prep played out like its entire season to this point.
It started promising enough then looked to be on the brink of collapse only to have senior Kevin Bauman and sophomore C.J. Ruoff step up late save the day.
Ruoff made two key baskets to break up a fourth-quarter run by Mater Dei and Bauman worked the offensive glass and the free-throw line in the final minute to seal a 49-45 win for the seventh-seeded Caseys over the No. 15 Caseys at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena.
RBC's win Sunday catapults the Caseys into the SCT semifinals for just the second time in program history and first time since 1994, when they also defeated Mater Dei to reach the Shore final four.
"It's exciting for the kids," said RBC fourth-year coach Tyler Schmelz, who has guided the Caseys to back-to-back quarterfinal appearances. "This season has been a learning process. Even though we had some good seniors on the team, we were still very young coming into the season and those young guys played big for us today."
PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Mater Dei by Ray Richardson
Bauman finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds and made a handful of key plays down the stretch to help seal the victory for RBC. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Notre Dame football commit hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 43 seconds left to give Red Bank Catholic a 46-45 after Mater Dei had taken its first lead of the game - free throws that came after Bauman collected an offensive rebound off a miss by his younger brother, sophomore Alex Bauman.
"At any time in the game, Kevin can just impose his will and he did that a couple times today," Schmelz said. "He is a big-time competitor and he's so strong that when there is a loose ball and he wants it, he is getting it."
Alex Bauman made one of four free throws over the ensuing two RBC positions, but the Caseys held Mater Dei scoreless over the final minute. That set up Kevin Bauman for a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left to clinch the game and the senior buried them to push the lead to four points.
Ruoff, meanwhile, broke up a 14-3 Mater Dei run that cut a 35-21, early-third-quarter lead for RBC to 38-35 in the opening minute of the third quarter. His three-pointer stretched the lead to 41-35 and after Mater Dei senior Peter Gorman answered with a three of his own, Ruoff scored on a drive to the basket off a feed from Alex Bauman, making it 43-38.
Ruoff finished with seven points while Alex Bauman put up 10 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Cyril Arvanitis also gave RBC 15 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting.
Gorman led Mater Dei with 16 points, including 10 during Mater Dei's second-half surge flipped a 14-point deficit to a one-point lead with a minute to go.
Gorman hit a corner three-pointer to tie the game at 43-43 with 1:25 left and after Kevin Bauman hit one of two foul shots to put RBC back ahead by one, senior Tahaj Parland hit a pull-up jumper with a minute left to give Mater Dei its first lead.
RBC led by as many as 17 points, when it was 27-10 in the first half. Mater Dei struggled to overcome foul trouble by junior Andeas Von Fricke, who played limited first-half minutes because of two early fouls and a third on when he returned before halftime. One round after scoring a team-high 15 points at Mater Dei, the foul trouble limited Von Fricke to four points.
Senior Sean Turner also pitched in 10 points and Parland and sophomore Anthony Tancredi added six apiece for Mater Dei.
Although Red Bank Catholic was never in any real jeopardy of missing the Shore Conference Tournament, the Caseys did appear to be hobbling in with the loss of senior Charlie Gordinier to a hand injury, followed by three straight loss - the first of which came against four-win Monmouth Regional.
"We don't have Chuck on the court, but we still have his spirit that he brings every day," Schmelz said of Gordinier. "He is on the bench encouraging the guys, helping the younger guys out. He has been a big player in this program so it's a big adjustment to play without him but I think we are getting the hang of it."
Bauman, however, started to find his game during the latter two games of that stretch - which were against SCT semifinalists Manasquan and Holmdel. He then exploded for 31 points and 11 rebounds in a in over Christian Brothers Academy, followed by 40 combined points in the first two SCT wins over Manchester and Lakewood.
In RBC's next game, two of the most physically-imposing players in the Shore Conference will clash when Kevin Bauman takes on 6-6 Mariners center Najae Halllenbeck, who scored 29 points on 14-for-16 shooting to go with 17 rebounds.
"Kevin's one of the few players who might have the strength to actually match-up with him," Schmelz said. "Even so, you're not going to stop Najae with just one player. It takes a team effort and we have been playing together and playing good basketball lately so we'll watch the tape on them and try to figure something out."