By Jim Hintelmann
LITTLE SILVER – Opening season basketball games sometimes result in neither teams playing at their best, and that was the case in Friday night’s battle between rivals Red Bank Regional and Red Bank Catholic.
Red Bank’s Scott Martin, however, was the happier coach after the game since his team rallied in the third quarter and then held on for a 45-42 non division win over the Caseys.
“It’s always going to be a heated rivalry no matter how good they are or we are,” admitted Martin.
The key in the game came in the third quarter when Red Bank, trailing 23-18, switched defenses and turned the game around.
RBC’s James Taylor opened the third period with a lay up, but Red Bank then ran off 14 straight points, helped by RBC turnovers, to grab a 34-25 lead. Asim Jules set the pace by scoring the final six points of the streak.
“We went to a trapping zone,” said Martin, “and built up a nine point lead. Then, the genius that I am, I pulled it off and RBC came back.”
RBC settled down after that Buc run and outscored Red Bank 11-2 and tied up the game at 36-36 with six straight points. Kyle Jeffrey began it with a lay up, Tim O’Hara added two foul shots and Taylor took a nice pass from Quentin Nelson and scored a lay up with 3:20 left in the game to tie it up.
“I thought that we might give up too many easy looks,” said Martin explaining why he took off the trapping defense, ”but we went back to it and built the lead back again.”
After tying the game, RBC had a chance to take the lead, but turned the ball over and Red Bank responded with five straight points on three free throws by Jules and a lay up from Steph Wiliams.
RBC’s Ryan Grover was fouled after attempting a three point shot with a minute left and made all three to narrow the Buc lead to 41-39, but free throws by Williams and Jules finally put the game away.
Neither team shot well in the first half although RBC moved out to an early 7-2 lead.
Red Bank came back to get its first lead of the game, 10-9, early in the second quarter on Tyheem Crawford’s lay up. Following an exchange of baskets RBC came back with a six point run, four of them by Grover, to get its biggest lead of the half, 19-12.
Red Bank had been up and down going into the opener, but Martin hopes that the Bucs will finally settle down.
“We’ve been erratic throughout the pre-season,” Martin pointed out. “Even tonight we were down five points at the half. That was our best half of basketball on both sides of the floor that we have played thus far.
“We were finally able to play harder and step up the pressure in the second half and were able to turn them over,” Martin added.
RBC, after an 18-7 season last year is in a major rebuilding season after graduating its entire starting line up. There are only two seniors on the team.
The Caseys have opened the season 0-3 after losing to Manchester on Saturday and again to Long Branch on Monday.
The Bucs followed their season opening win against RBC with a 67-64 overtime victory over Saint John Vianney on Monday. Jules had a team high 18 ponts in the win.