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Caseys look to close regular season on high note

By Warren Rappleyea

Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School’s girls basketball team will look to bounce back after just its fourth loss as it enters the final week of the regular season.

The Caseys (16-4) are coming off a 60-44 loss to neighboring Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Feb. 6. The Bulldogs used a 19-9, second-quarter run to get a leg up and then gradually pulled away over the final quarter.

Prior to the loss, RBC had reeled off nine wins in its last 11 games, including a 45-38 victory over Shore Conference Class B North rival Neptune High School, as sophomore point guard Rose Caverly scored a season-high 15 points. Neptune had won the previous meeting between the teams, 55-47, Jan. 7. RBC’s other losses came against Middletown High School South and Staten Island Academy.

The Caseys were slated to play Matawan Regional High School Feb. 8. A victory in that game would give RBC the division title. The Caseys close out the regular season Feb. 13 at powerful St. John Vianney High School (17-1) — the team that defeated the Caseys in the NJSIAA Non-Public A semifinals last season.

Coach Joe Montano’s team has relied on a stingy defense that has allowed 40 or fewer points 11 times this season, along with a deep bench that has fostered a balanced offense.

Josie Larkins has been the team’s top scorer, averaging about 10 points. The 5-foot-8 junior guard scored 20 points in a Jan. 11 win over Colts Neck High School and has scored in double figures on seven occasions and has connected on 14 3-pointers.

Another junior, Maureen Coakley, is averaging eight points per game. The 5-foot-11 center can take the ball to the net and is a force under the boards. She scored 20 points to key a come-from-behind win against Ramapo High School Jan. 17. Caverly, who averages about seven points, is a mainstay at the point. Her poise and quickness benefit the Caseys at both ends of the floor.

Two other sophomores, guard Haley Moore and forward Katie Rice, both play important roles. Moore averages eight points and leads RBC with 20 3-points, while the 5-foot-11 Rice averages 6.3 points and provides a shot-blocking presence on defense.

“We’re a young team and the question has been can we score enough points against good teams,” said Montano, whose team turned in a 22-6 mark a year ago. “All of these girls played important roles last year, and that experience is paying off for us now.”

The Caseys’ other key players include senior forwards Jennifer Bagnell and Caitlin Campbell; junior Tia Montagne, a solid defender who averages 3.5 points; and sophomore guard Amanda Hart, who has knocked back 15 3-pointers this winter.

“We want to finish strong so we have momentum heading into the Shore Conference and state tournaments,” Montano said. “We’re ready to get going.”

Last winter, RBC was upset in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament by Freehold Township High School.

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