Boys Basketball – RBC Shocks CBA to Reach South Non-Public A Semis
Tyler Schmelz has only known heartache and frustration in the gym at Christian Brothers Academy, both as a player at Red Bank Catholic and as the second-year head coach of his alma mater.
On Friday, playing on the same floor on which CBA beat RBC by 25 points a little more than two weeks earlier, Schmelz and the Caseys found out what victory tastes like against one of the Shore's most decorated programs.
The Caseys - seeded No. 7 in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Tournament - jumped out to an early lead and stepped up their defensive intensity to author a 59-54 upset of the second-seeded Colts Friday in the sectional quarterfinals.
The win marked the first time RBC has beaten CBA since the Caseys knocked off the Colts in the 1989 NJSIAA Tournament, according to former head coach Joe Nappo.
"There were some demons exorcised tonight," said Schmelz, who lost to CBA in three tournament games as a player between his junior season in 2000-01 and senior year in 2001-02. "It's a hard place to play and they always have a good team. There have been a lot of losses for this program here and I've been here to experience quite a few of them as a player and now as a coach.
"This is definitely a huge win for a lot of people - not just for the players on our team but for so many alumni who have been hoping to see us finally beat them."
Sophomore Charlie Gordinier led Red Bank Catholic with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Junior Stephen Lubischer added 13 points and sophomore Kevin Bauman contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Caseys.
While Lubischer and Bauman stepped up on the offensive end, they were even more instrumental on the defensive side of the floor. Lubischer led an effort that held CBA leading scorer Stephen Braunstein to 10 points, while the 6-foot-6 Bauman held Colts 6-9 junior center Josh Cohen to 12 points.
In CBA's 73-48 win over RBC, Cohen (19) and Braunstein (17) combined for 36 points, with Braunstein throwing down two dunks during the rout.
"We watched the film of the last time we played and they shot the lights out, but we also weren't in very good position for most of those shots," Schmelz said. "We changed some things up on defense and played much, much more physical. We scored a lot of points on the offensive glass as well. Overall, we played a much more physical game than the last time we played them."
Junior Liam Kennedy led CBA with a game-high 19 points and senior Rob Mahala poured in 13 in his final high school game.
On Friday, it was the Caseys who staked claim to an earlier game and set a defensive tone after being bombarded by CBA early and often in the last meeting between the teams. They made to the end of the first quarter with a 14-13 lead, pushed the lead to 28-24 by halftime and took a 43-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
"In the last game, they completely controlled the tempo," Schmelz said. "They jumped out to a big lead early and they were able to make us come out and guard them and then they picked us apart in the second half too. This time, we got out to a lead and were able to get some easy baskets by holding the ball and making them come out to defend us. We definitely controlled the tempo this time around."
After vanquishing their local rivals, the Caseys will look to continue their run through what all of a sudden appears to be a wide-open bracket. Top-seeded St. Augustine barely survived No. 8 Paul VI, 62-61, while Red Bank Catholic's Monday opponent - St. Joseph of Metuchen - edged No. 6 Bishop Eustace, 55-53.
The Caseys will travel to play the third-seeded Falcons on Monday night with a chance to reach the sectional final Wednesday at Jackson Liberty High School.
"We faced St. Augustine last year and that team was unbeatable," Schmelz said. "The three other teams left (St. Joseph, St. Augustine and Camden Catholic) are all good teams, but none of them is unbeatable. We're going to have to play our best game, but I think if we can do that, we have a shot."