Boys Basketball – Red Bank Catholic Pays Back Marlboro at Boardwalk Showcase
MIDDLETOWN -- Instead of overhauling the game plan employed during its lone loss of the season, the Red Bank Catholic boys basketball team double-down on its strategy against Marlboro in the rematch Saturday in the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase at Brookdale Community College.
After a tightly-contested game won by Marlboro in the WOBM Christmas Classic on Dec. 30, the top two teams in the Shore Sports Network rankings played another one on Saturday and this time, the No. 2 Caseys came out on top with a 46-40 win.
"After watching the last game, we were pretty even," Red Bank Catholic coach Tyler Schmelz said. "It was just a handful of plays that their way. We just knew we had to make a couple of more plays as the game went on. Be tough, play hard, rebound the ball, and we knew we'd have a shot."
Saturday's game was played at a more deliberate pace and, in turn, was lower-scoring than the first meeting, which saw four Marlboro players score in double-figures and three with 16 points or more. Mustangs senior Jack Seidler scored a game-high 17 points on Saturday, but was the only Marlboro player to reach double-figures against the Caseys defense.
"I think the energy we brought on defense today compared to last game really helped us get this win," senior Alex Bauman said. "We were able to stop a lot of their midrange pull-ups, which they love and their three-point shooting, which they love. Just bringing that energy on defense and being able to stop them was really our plan all along."
On the other side, Red Bank Catholic did not have a player score more than 10 points, but also got scoring contributions from eight players who scored at least two points. Sophomore Colin Cavanaugh scored a team-high 10 points and all of them came in the fourth quarter.
Bauman, meanwhile, posted eight points, seven rebounds and five assists to win game MVP honors.
Marlboro played without senior starter Zach Molod for the third straight game -- a significant absence for the Mustangs considering that Molod scored 19 points vs. RBC on Dec. 30. Senior Jay Ratner was Marlboro's second-leading scorer on Saturday with nine points and the Caseys held First-Team All-Shore guard Jon Spatola to seven.
RBC held Marlboro to 24 points through three quarters, but scored just 28 of its own through that point of the game. In the fourth, the Caseys scored the first four points of the quarter before Marlboro sliced the lead to 32-29.
It was then 37-32 when RBC hit Marlboro with an 8-3 run that proved to be the final nail. Sophomore Gioacchino Panzini stole the ball under his team's own basket, flung an outlet pass to Bauman, who slid a pass to Cavanaugh for a three-pointer from the left corner.
Cavanaugh then scored a transition layup on the next possession, followed by a pair of free throws by senior C.J. Ruoff and one out of two by Panzini.
Spatola and Ratner hit a pair of unanswered three-pointers to cut Marlboro's deficit to 45-40 with 11.9 seconds, but there was not enough time left for the Mustangs to cut their deficit to one score.
Red Bank Catholic also held a decided edge in rebounds and generally took advantage of its superior size across the board, led by the 6-foot-5 Bauman, 6-6 Zach Meeks and 6-5 Panzini, as well as 6-5 sophomore Ty Burnham off the bench and 6-3 guard C.J. Ruoff.
"We have a huge advantage in the height department and the size department -- down low and on the perimeter, being able to stay in front of their guards and contest," Bauman said. "They might be a little bit quicker, but we were able to move along with our length, then down low with Zach Meeks, Big Burnham and Gio, all our size really helped us."
Cavanaugh's output was part of another productive day for the RBC bench, which went four deep with freshman Ryan Prior, senior Alex Brown and Burnham all part of the picture.
"Everyone on our team can play," Bauman said. "They prove it every day in practice. We have battles in practice, so I think that really translates to the court in the games."
With Saturday's win, Red Bank Catholic has now beaten every team on its schedule so far -- one that includes St. John Vianney, Jackson Memorial and Raritan so far. This coming week could potentially be the toughest of the season for RBC, which in scheduled for Holmdel and Rumson-Fair Haven in division matchups before travelling to play unbeaten Christian Brothers Academy on Saturday.
"Every day is a battle and there are going to be a lot of teams in the mix for the top spot," Bauman said. "We have to give our A-game every single game in order to be on that level."
Last year, CBA rolled through Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Playoff Championship Pod quarterfinals after RBC had played a limited regular-season schedule that included just two games vs. Holmdel as the only match-ups against a team that finished in the top eight of the conference.
This season, the Caseys have beefed up their schedule significantly. They have already played four games against teams in the most current Shore Sports Network Top 10 (twice vs. Marlboro, St. John Vianney and Jackson Memorial) and its next three Saturdays will also feature matchups against teams ranked in the state Top 20: CBA next weekend, Ranney on Jan. 22 and Rutgers Prep on Jan. 29.
"Our schedule this year has really helped us prepare for playing all these big teams, whether you're talking about CBA or Ranney and all those teams like that. It just gives us a better atmosphere and an idea of how the pace of those games is going to be."