By Warren Rappleyea
With 11 wins in a row and most of them in dominating fashion, Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School’s girls’ basketball team appears to be firing on all cylinders as it heads into the home stretch of the season.
The Caseys are coming off of perhaps their most important victory: an impressive come-from-behind win, 54-45, over St. John Vianney High School Jan. 21. Trailing 41-32 entering the final quarter, RBC roared back and went ahead for good on a Josie Larkins 3-pointer with about three minutes remaining.
Hayley Moore’s season-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, led the Caseys’ attack. Rose Caverly added eight points, while the RBC defense limited the Lancers’ leading scorer, Kimi Evans, to just five points.
“We wanted to shut Evans down as much as possible, but she’s good at finding ways to get open and get in front of the defense,” coach Joe Montano said. “Our girls just wanted to stay in front of her and make them beat us over the top.”
The win upped RBC’s record to 12-1, and the Caseys were set to visit undefeated Manasquan High School Jan. 24 hoping to avenge their lone loss. The Warriors escaped the Eck Center with a 66-62 victory Dec. 22. Similar to the St. John Vianney game, RBC rallied in the second half, taking the lead twice, before the visitors reclaimed the upperhand.
As a result of that win, Manasquan sits atop the Shore Conference’s B North Division. Both RBC and Manasquan have easily defeated their other divisional foes thus far.
Montano’s team has generally played well defensively this winter. Only two other opponents have surpassed the 50-point mark against the Caseys. RBC handed Camden Catholic High School (10-1) a 66-55 loss in one, while the other was an 85-53 decision against Long Branch High School.
Offensively, the Caseys find ways to get the job done. Larkins averages 13 points to lead the team and is tied for the top spot with 22 3-pointers. The senior scored 26 points — her season high — in the loss to Manasquan. Larkins has scored in double figures in all but three of RBC’s games.
Moore, a 5-foot-5 sharpshooter, and 5-foot-11 forward Katie Rice are both averaging slightly more than nine points. Moore’s 22 treys have her tied with Larkins. Rice has been a factor from the charity stripe, hitting 37 free throws to date. Both are juniors.
Caverly, another junior who runs the point, distributes the ball, plays strong defense and can also score, as evidenced by her 17 3-pointers and 8.7-point scoring average. Senior Maureen Coakley is a defensive presence in the paint who averages six points. Despite nursing a sore ankle, Coakley and Rice excelled against St. John Vianney’s Evans.
The presence of 6-foot-1 junior Annetta Panayides and 5-foot-11 freshman gives RBC solid depth up front. Both players average about four points. Senior Tia Montagne and junior Amanda Hart see plenty of time in the backcourt, with each averaging about six points.
Montano has employed most of his bench in the games where his team built big leads.
“Our girls are playing hard all the time,” Montano said. “The focus is there, and it’s showing up in the results.”