Boys Basketball – Red Bank Bests Rival RBC on the Court
LITTLE SILVER - Despite everything the Red Bank Regional boys basketball team accomplished during its 16-win 2014-15 season, the Bucs failed to do one thing that not only irked them on a personal level but also might have cost them a Shore Conference Class B North championship: they failed to beat crosstown rival Red Bank Catholic.
Last year the Caseys owned the Battle of Red Bank both on the football field and on the basketball court, but as the hourglass runs out on 2015, this past year appears it will go down with the Bucs on top.
Senior Sadiq Palmer scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and spearheaded another stellar Red Bank defensive effort as the Bucs beat the rival Caseys, 46-40, to keep bragging rights on the east side of town and also gain a leg up in the Class B North race.
Palmer is one of a handful of Bucs who are also on the football team, which knocked off Red Bank Catholic on the way to an 11-1 season that ended with a loss to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group III final. Last year, not only did RBC handle Red Bank during its state championship 2014 season, but the Caseys - a few of whom also play both sports - swept the Red Bank in the regular-season series in basketball.
"It definitely feels good anytime we beat them because they are a rival," Palmer said. "But we can't get too excited about this one because we still gotta see them one more time at their place."
In three games this season Red Bank has yet to allow more than 40 points, even in a 40-37 loss to Neptune on Monday night. Palmer led the way on both ends Wednesday with his team-high point total and by clamping down on Red Bank Catholic senior Eddie Hahn, who did not score in the game. Hahn is also the starting RBC quarterback and is heading to play football at the University of Connecticut next year.
"Eddie Hahn is a tremendous athlete with a lot of ability on the court, but so is Sadiq," Red Bank coach Scott Martin said. "Not a lot of teams have athletes who can contend with Eddie, but we happen to have pretty special one of our own and he's built for matchups like that."
"It's a rivalry between anybody wearing the green and gold, no matter who it is," Palmer said. "When we see them, we're out to beat them. We're the real Red Bank."
Senior Ben Sprauer and sophomore Devin Cooper each added nine points for Red Bank, with Sprauer scoring all nine of his points in the second half - seven in the fourth quarter. Cooper, meanwhile, hit a three as the first quarter expired to give Red Bank a 12-9 lead, one it would never give back. He also hit his first shot of the second quarter and those two field goals helped key a 9-0 run that put Red Bank in command.
Sprauer and Cooper are two of the many newcomers to Red Bank's varsity roster, which returned only Palmer and senior point guard Jack Navitsky - also the quarterback - to the regular rotation.
"We're a hard-working team and we put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end, which I think we've been doing a good job of so far," Sprauer said. "It think as we go along and the football guys get settled, the offense is going to get better as well, but as long as we defend, I think we'll be pretty good.
"It's also big having a guy like Sadiq. His energy is definitely contagious. When you see your best player working hard on defense and battling for rebounds, it makes you want to work harder too."
Senior Evan Madigan scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and with his team trailing 43-31 with a little more than three minutes left, he scored nine consecutive points to pull RBC within 43-40 with 1:12 left.
Sprauer then scored on a lay-up off a feed from Cooper with just under a minute to go and Palmer knocked down one of two free throws to put the game on ice.
Colin Shaughnessy knocked down three three-pointers and finished with 12 points for Red Bank Catholic. Hahn, who averaged better than 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists last year, did contribute seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Although there is a long way to go yet in the B North season, it appears as though the division race will again come down to a single game. Everyone in the division already has at least one loss, with the exception of Long Branch - the team that finished 3-16 last year and is off to a 2-0 start this season.
Last year, Red Bank led the division for a majority of the season, but Wall overtook the Bucs at the end to win their first division championship in 41 years. Wall also went from last place the previous year to first place in 2015, which speaks to the depth in the division that Red Bank and its rivals will have to deal with this year.
"It's big getting a win just for the simple fact we lost last game (to Neptune)," Palmer said. "It didn't matter who we were playing today, we just needed to bounce back. We shouldn't have lost that game. We should be 3-0 right now, but we're not so we just have to keep going."