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NEPTUNE - There’s no logical way to explain how Caitlyn Decker summoned the energy to pull off what she did for Red Bank on Tuesday night.

Is she a cyborg? Couldn't be, she's way to athletic to be even remotely considered mechanical. Might there actually be two of her? Well, Neptune may attest to that theory.  It wasn't that Decker was all over the court that seemed inexplicable; that's simply come to be expected. But, in the throes of a wildly-entertaing fourth quarter, one in which Red Bank, once up by as many as 14, was clinging for dear life, it was the one person who should have been out of breath who resucitated the Bucs from a near collapse.

Only 24 hours earlier, Decker was boarding a flight in Florida that was Jersey bound, heading home from a soccer showcase in which she played practically every second of the three matches she participated in. If that wasn't enough cause for exhaustion, she didn't touch down until midnight, yet had the strength to drag herself out of bed and into school Tuesday morning.

In the evening, she dragged Red Bank across the finish line.

Decker delivered 12 of her career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, keeping pace within a blistering tempo initiated by a Neptune squad that chiseled a hefty deficit down to a single point. Her sense of when to accelerate, coupled with a wealth of finesse from the foul line, proved decisive as No. 6 Red Bank managed to stave off the Scarlet Fliers for a 51-44 victory.

 

“I’m used to going from one game to another,” Decker said of her busy schedule. “I never want to take time off.”

Ain't that the truth.

When sophomore Ahjanae Young raced the length of the court with a defensive rebound to sink a layup that pulled Neptune to within 40-39, Decker was right there, awaiting the inbounds, which she took the distance to pump the lead back to three.

After Macy Bracket laid in a bucket, once again getting Neptune in position to assume the lead, Decker retrieved an offensive rebound, drew a foul and converted a pair from the line, a recurring theme over the final four minutes during which she went 6 for 9 at the stripe.

"This was a war and we needed a warrior like Caitlyn to get us through it," said Red Bank coach John Truhan. "Without her, I don’t think we survive this. Their two jets guarding (Young and fellow sophomore Amaya Evans). They are lightning. Caitlyn was invaluable."

For all of her heroics, which included eight rebounds, six assists and seven steals, Decker did not act alone.

Junior guard Chloe Teter supplied 10 points, four boards, three assists and three steals, senior guard Taylor Crystian added nine points and eight rebounds, junior Emma Moriarty drilled a timely 3-pointer in the third and made some pinpoint feeds from the high post, junior guard Amelia Medolla backed five points with five rebounds and senior forward Lulu Attia came off the bench to reject a shot with under two minutes to go.

"Everyone stepped up in different ways," noted Teter.

The Bucs (8-2, 4-1) needed all hands on deck to outlast Neptune (6-3, 4-1). Despite the foul troubles that plagued the Scarlet Fliers, they never waned from their aggressive nature. Their staunch man-to-man, coupled with buckets that allowed them to get into their press, gradually pulled the Fliers back into the contest.

Taylor Crystian of Red Bank brings ball up against Neptune's Ahjanae Young (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

"They are really tough," Crystian said of Neptune. "They have quick guards who can get to the basket ,so our help defense had to be there when we needed it."

Layups from Young, who had 15 points, seven boards and four assists, senior forward Macy Brackett, who produced 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and Evans combined with a mid-range jumper from junior Laila Kendle translated into a 8-2 charge that narrowed the gap to 31-25 in the third. Moriarty stemmed the tide with a three.

"We have to start winning big games," Neptune coach John Brown stated. "That is the bottom line. The first half put us in a hole. We missed a bunch of layups and we have to stay out of foul trouble. The kids played hard and we’re going in the right direction. We got more of our tempo (in the second half) and had to start turning them over. The man-to-man is coming along. If we can limit fouling, we will be a difficult team to beat."

Red Bank (8-2, 2-1) 08 19 11 13 --- 51
Neptune (6-3, 4-1)   08 07 18 11 --- 44

Red Bank: Chloe Teter 1-1-5-10; Taylor Crystian 2-1-2-9; Amelia Medolla 1-1-0-5; Caitlyn Decker 5-0-12-22; Emma Moriarty 1-1-0-5; Mia Strand 0-0-0-0; Lulu Attia 0-0-0-0.
Neptune: Macy Brackett 8-0-0-16; Ahjanae Young 6-0-3-15; Alena Totten 0-0-0-0; Marchella Tino 0-0-0-0; Laila Kendle 1-0-0-2; Sophie Yevchak 1-0-0-2; Amaya Evans 3-1-0-9.

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