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RED BANK - Red Bank Catholic had two priorities above all else and both qualified as far easier said than done.

The first was employ a defensive scheme with the intent to quell the explosive offensive nature of St. Rose’s Brynn Farrell. The second hinged on shooting efficiency of the highest degree. The more jumpers made, the fewer chances for the Purples Roses to retrieve a rebound and devour the floor with their blinding transition.

"I said to the girls before the game, I think they have the best player but we have the better team," Red Bank Catholic coach Joe Montano shared. "Number one on our list was (Farrell). We couldn't let her have a game like she’s had in the past. The second thing we said is if we shoot the ball well, they can’t run their fast break."

To accomplish one of the two arduous tasks would have been reason for satisfaction. To accomplish both to the extent the Caseys in a marquee A Central showdown made a strong case and prolific statement that Red Bank Catholic is going to be a dynamic and adjustable force to deal with from this point forward.

Its compacted 2-3 zone thoroughly addressed the first concern, denying Farrell and St. Rose its usual paths to the basket. As for the shooting, RBC went far beyond even Montano's expectations, not only sizzling from the floor but dizzying in how many resources it implemented to do its significant scoring damage.

Senior Shaelyn Sabino and freshman Casey Prior hopped off the bench to offer instant perimeter impact, sophomore center Ally Carman proved both a finisher and superior distributor in the low post, junior point guard Sophia Sabino could pick her poison moving the basketball and senior swing Fab Eggenschwiler epitomized the grit within a defense that stymied No. 2 St. Rose from start to finish as the fourth-ranked Caseys stormed to a 66-43 victory at the Eck Center.

Shaelyn Sabino of Red Bank Catholic (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

An early 5-0 deficit became a distant image in the Caseys' rearview mirror, countered by an all-encompassing 31-5 counter that lasted to the 5:03 mark of the second quarter and, by its conclusion, had Red Bank Catholic in total command with a stranglehold it never relinquished.

"Our team chemistry helped us because we all had confidence in each other," said Shaelyn Sabino, who buried a pair of 3-pointers during the uprising and finished with nine points on the strength of three triples. "I know I can make a difference when I’m on the court. They are a very good team but I know we are too when we play together, run our sets and execute them."

"A kid like Shae you have to feel really good for," said Montano. "This is a kid who wanted time. From day one, she's done everything at every practice exactly like we've asked her to do. And, (Prior) can play a little bit. She can shoot and probably one of the brightest kids I've had as a freshman. She's not afraid to double down in the post."

Red Bank Catholic clicked on every cylinder. It got more than it anticipated in regards to Farrell, who picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game and sat until 2:20 was left in the first quarter. The Caseys took advantage of her absence.

Sophomore guard Justine Pissott backed a layup with a 3-pointer, lobbed an entry to Carman that the 6-4 pivot deposited with a layup and junior guard Toni Panayides curled around a screen to can a 3-pointer that gave RBC a 14-5 lead with 2:43 left in the initial stanza. Pissott and Sophia Sabino punctuated an opening eight minutes in which the Caseys shot 7 for 12 from the field (including 4 of 6 behind the arc) by each sinking a trey that extended the gap to 20-7.

Shaelyn Sabino of Red Bank Catholic (Photo by Gregg Lerner)


Shaelyn Sabino sandwiched her two threes around another by Prior, who finished with 11 points, before Eggenschwiler capped with game-breaking blitz with two free throws that pushed the margin to 31-10. "I’m so happy that I can rely on my teammates," said Sophia Sabino, who ended with seven points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. "As a point guard, that is an amazing feeling."  

"Our inside-out game opens everything up," added Carman, who had a team-high 15 points. "The outside shots open up the post. When I get the ball inside, first I look to score but I also have the confidence in my teammates to kick out if a shot isn’t available."

Shots were only plentiful but convertible for RBC, which was a blistering 11 of 20 from the floor en route to a 35-15 halftime lead. Furthermore, it went 7 of 10 from downtown with five different players striking from long range.

"It was awesome. Absolutely amazing," was how Pissott, who hit three 3-pointers and totaled 13 points to go with seven reboudns, described the offensive sharpness. "Shae had a great game and having Casey with the ball in her hands, stepping up, was outstanding."

Equally impeccable was RBC's impregnable 2-3 zone, which limited St. Rose (4-2, 1-1) to a season-low 43 points. The Purple Roses suffered the consequence for a 6-for-22 spell from the field and the 12 turnovers in the first half that RBC translated into 15 points.

"We saw Farrell was driving a lot when we watched tape so we packed it in," said Carman, who congested the paint with her shadowing presence. "The 2-3  was a pretty good idea and it worked pretty well."

What an understatement. Farrell, who was closely monitored by the 6-0 Eggenschwiler, scored nine of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter and junior point guard Abby Antognoli had eight points. Junior forward Maureen Stapleton scored seven, senior swing Makayla Andrews ended with five and four rebounds and senior forward Maria Tedesco cleared 10 rebounds to couple with four points.

Abby Antognoli of St. Rose (Photo by Gregg Lerner)
Brynn Farrell of St. Rose (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

"We had to make baskets and we did. We shot very, very well," praised Montano. "We had to play for 32 minutes. I thought we got a little tired at points. Fab had four points but I thought she was the player of the game. She did exactly what was needed (defensively)."

St. Rose (4-2, 1-1) 07 08 11 17 --- 43
Red Bank Catholic (5-1, 2-0) 20 15 13 18 --- 66

St. Rose: Brynn Farrell 4-1-5-16; Abby Antognoli 2-1-1-8; Makayla Andrews 1-1-0-5; Maria Tedesco 2-0-0-4; Maureen Stapleton 0-2-1-7; Kitty Murphy 0-0-0-0; Layla Laws 0-0-0-0; Tori Crovo 0-0-0-0; Darby Sherman 0-0-0-0; Maggie Cavanaugh 0-1-3-3.

Red Bank Catholic: Sophia Sabino 2-1-0-7; Justine Pissott 1-3-2-13; Toni Panayides 0-1-0-3; Fab Eggenschwiler 1-0-2-4; Ally Carman 6-0-3-15; Nicole Stanford 1-0-2-4; Casey Prior 2-2-1-11; Shaelyn Sabino 0-3-0-9; Emma Carman 0-0-0-0; Cassie Cavanaugh 0-0-0-0; Grace Wilson 0-0-0-0.

Follow Gregg Lerner on Twitter @gregglerner. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.