Cup Crazies: CBA Takes Down No. 6 RBC to Win Founders Cup
LINCROFT -- Coach Geoff Billet knew in order to extend his Christian Brothers Academy basketball team's win streak to seven and to claim the Founders Cup against rival Red Bank Catholic, his guys would need to bring the physical presence on both sides of the court.
While the Colts -- ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16 rankings -- have their fair share of playmakers who bring that "old-school CBA" feel back onto the court, one player in particular has been a shining star as the season's progressed. Junior Kevin Pikiell had 19 points while going 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, leading the Colts to a 56-47 victory over the No. 6 Caseys Saturday afternoon.
Pikiell's day got started early, when he scored four of the Colts' first 10 points, setting the tone early with a 10-7 lead. Justin Fuerbacher scored six of his 16 points to shape the early start, connecting on two three-pointers and showing the range that CBA has possessed.
"We've been shooting the ball extremely well this year which goes to all of the hard work the group puts in at practice," head coach Geoff Billet said. "There's days that we work on free throws for over an hour during practice and that showed today. We've been efficient with the ball and we've been minimizing the turnovers which is another reason why we're seeing a lot of success."
The first quarter continued with both teams scoring in rapid-fire clips. As the contagious scoring wrapped up, the Colts harbored a 17-16 lead at the end of the first.
Pikiell's day was just getting started, helping the Colts gradually expand their lead midway through the second quarter. Pikiell had a stretch of six straight points which included four consecutive free throws to help extend the Colts' lead to 23-19.
"We've been playing like savages recently," Pikiell said. "I honestly didn't know what to expect coming into this game but this was wild. We've been moving the ball around so well, we're finding our shots and we're making things happen. Seven straight for a reason."
The second quarter didn't provide the offensive fireworks of the first eight minutes, but rather a more defensive stretch. The Caseys chipped away to make the deficit two points heading into the locker room as the Colts gathered themselves to get back on track.
"Gotta give a lot of credit to RBC," Billet said. "I thought getting to 56 (points) was a good number for us, but they're a really fundamentally sound team. We knew with the background, the rivalry, that it would be a challenge."
Coming out of the locker room, the Colts ultimately started slowing the game down while finding open men on the court. Sophomore Charlie Marcoullier found senior Peter Noble for an open three, giving the Colts a 34-27 lead with under five minutes in the third.
"Everybody's doing their jobs right now," Coach Billet said. "Kevin's really been finding himself and he's such a good player for us, but that's allowing others to get better as well. We're getting strong looks and it's given us opportunities that maybe wouldn't be happening a year ago."
The energy continued to shift in direction of the Colts as they went on a 15-7 run, finding themselves with a 43-33 lead late in the third. Pikiell capped off the run by draining a three-pointer, forcing the Caseys to call timeout.
"We wanted to be able to make some noise and kind of show everybody what we're about," Pikiell said. "It's nice to win those games by 30 points but there's something different about this. I mean this is as good as it gets in the regular season."
The Colts felt good about where they were heading into the final quarter of the game but knew that it would still be a challenge to hold onto the lead. Senior Tyler Burnham, who finished with 13 points, ended the third quarter with a strong take to the basket to cut the lead to eight.
The Caseys scored first in the fourth but the Colts saw the adjustments that needed to be made and stood their ground. For over three minutes, the Colts held the Caseys scoreless before making one at the line to make it a 44-39 game.
As great teams usually do, the Caseys hung around and continued to fight. After the Colts made it a 46-39 game, Colin Cavanaugh responded with a deep three to cut the lead down to four.
Pikiell then found Marcoullier with a beautiful pass to drill the three, extending the lead to 49-42 with two minutes and change left to play. The Caseys got a basket from Sean Saxton to bring it back to four, but the Colts immediately responded with a layup by Noble.
The Caseys were forced to enter foul mode, sending Noble to the line. As he missed both free throws, Ryan Prior grabbed the rebound and was fouled, getting the Caseys to the line.
After Prior drilled both free throws, Pikiell was sent back to the line for the Colts. After making one of two from the line, he grabbed his own rebound and got it back to Noble which sent him to the line.
Noble made both free throws and gave the Colts the finishing touches to wrap up a 56-47 victory over Red Bank Catholic, sending them home with the Founders Cup trophy.
The Colts will be on the road at No. 10 Marlboro before hosting Howell, followed by a date with No. 1 St. Rose to close out the upcoming week. The schedule will only get more grueling for the Colts as time elapses but with the way the program has shifted gears, all bets are off for how far CBA can go.