A year removed from being the young team on the rise after a loss in the quarterfinals of South Jersey Non-Public A, Red Bank Catholic received veteran performances from sophomores Ally Carman and sharpshooter Justine Pissott to galvanize their status as the top seed in this year's bracket. Controlling the pace of play from start to finish, the RBC Caseys began their state tournament run with a 67-31 triumph over the Irish of Notre Dame.

Carman's 17 points were backed by a second quarter tear by Sophia Sabino, as RBC's defensive stopper - Fab Eggenschwiler - alleviated the pressure by neutralizing Notre Dame's Erika Porter. By halftime, the Caseys advantage was 33-14. All 17 of Sabino's points would come in the first 16 minutes of play.

Both Pissott and Porter would start the second quarter on the bench. RBC turned up the defensive pressure against a smaller, guard-oriented Notre Dame lineup while Carman took advantage of the size advantage in the post.

Having been bounced from the Shore Conference tournament with a semifinal loss to Manchester, which featured a plethora of outside shooting around Destiny Adams' double-double, RBC played like a team that had learned their lesson.

Coming off a 24 point, 16 rebound performance in the first round against Union Catholic, the Illinois-bound Porter would find no such success against RBC, with her team unable to draw from the momentum of that win to put a real scare into the Caseys off a bye.

By the time Porter checked back in, RBC was in complete control with zero intentions of letting the Irish sense hope through the remaining three quarters. Following a Sabino three, Carman drew a foul on Porter and converted a three point play to give her team a 21-9 lead.

Relentless on the offensive glass, the Caseys skillful lineup generated plenty of second chance opportunities. A Sabino put back basket would force a Notre Dame timeout, though this did little to slow the junior down. Scoring eight more points before the break, it was clear RBC was firing on all cylinders. Their 19 point lead was built on just seven points from Pissott - all of which came in the first quarter.

"We gave our all for 32 minutes," said Pissott after the game, proud of her team's ability to selflessly share the ball and put the clamps on Notre Dame through a sound defensive game plan.

All that was missing for the Caseys to assert their dominance at the start of this state playoff run were some dazzling shots from Pissott to bury Notre Dame down the stretch. Scoring the first points of the second half on a left wing triple, Pissott would hit another later in the quarter to put her team up 43-19.

Turning defense into offense, the Caseys lead 50-24 entering the fourth, where a Pissott three while falling away into her bench would extend the lead to 58-27.

A Notre Dame team that pushed eventual section and state champions Saint Rose to the limit in last year's quarterfinals would find no such luck this year against a RBC team that now looks ahead to a third meeting with the Purple Roses this season.

On taking the next step into the state tournament, Ally Carman offered that ,"this game showed us what we can do when we work together, it's inspiring and motivating. This was really important for us".

Holding home court advantage, RBC should draw confidence from their two previous wins against Saint Rose, but also from the laser-focused, workmanship performances turned in by leading scorers Carman and Sabino in Friday's victory.

Carman was the leading scorer for RBC in both previous meetings between her team and Saint Rose, racking up 15 points in a 23-point home win before scoring 16 in Belmar to knock off the Roses 46-43.

The defending champions of this bracket, Saint Rose survived Paul VI 90-80 in double overtime to set up Monday's semifinal.

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