Red Bank Catholic High School achieved success in the 2017-18 girls’ basketball season.
The Caseys went 23-6 and reached the NJSIAA Non-Public A South championship game where they fell to Saint Rose High School, 73-59, on March 8.
But Red Bank Catholic lost a slew of talent from that strong team, including three Division 1 players in Katie Rice (Lehigh University), Hayley Moore (Binghamton University) and Rose Caverly (University of Vermont), and another key player in Amanda Hart.
Coach Joe Montano reported that the Caseys lost 42 of their 55 points per game through graduation.
The challenge this winter will be replacing that dynamic group.
Red Bank Catholic opens its season on Dec. 14 at home against Shore Regional High School. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
“Those seniors were a big part of what we were doing,” Montano said. “Our experience level will hurt us at times this year. Our lack of understanding will hurt at times, too.”
Red Bank Catholic does have some talent back, including two starters in Sophia Sabino, a sophomore point guard, and Fabienne Eggenschwiler, a junior forward.
Sabino is a strong two way player. On offense, she can handle and pass. On defense, she can deflect passes and stop scorers. Sabino shared point guard duties with Caverly last year. This season, the sophomore will be running the show.
“She’s a good all around player. She sees the floor very well, makes teammates better and gets her hands on passes,” Montano said. “We’re going to need her to take a step up. Last year she had the opportunity to play with Rose, who is one of the best point guards we’ve had. We could ease Sophia in to point guard duties. This year she’ll have to take it on herself.”
Eggenschwiler is another quality all around player. Last winter, she scored a little (five points per game), passed a little and was “one of our better defenders,” Montano said. The coach needs Eggenschwiler to score more this winter.
“Fab is a very good all around player,” Montano said. “We’ll need her to do an awful lot of things.”
The Caseys have one other player back who was in the varsity rotation last year, seventh player Julia Setaro. In 2017-18, as a junior, Setaro shot 40 percent from three point range. But the senior can be a scorer, too. She can drive in half court sets and finish a fast break.
“This will be a different role for her. She’ll be on the floor more. We’ll need her to score,” Montano added. “I hope she can take what she did last year, take the increased opportunities and produce more. She can be a shooter one night and a scorer the next night, depending on how we go.”
Red Bank Catholic has one other player, sophomore Toni Panayides, who got some experience last season. It also has two freshmen, Justine Pissott and Ally Carman, who Montano is excited about.
Panayides should be Montano’s defensive ace. She has a high motor and can cover multiple positions.
Pissott is a 6-2 wing who can shoot, handle and get to the rim. Carman is 6-4 and smooth around the basket.
“Justine is very talented. She comes in probably one of the more skilled players we’ve had in a long time,” Montano said. “Ally gets better every day. Hopefully she can contribute for us.”
The Caseys have potential. They just have to develop into a team to handle their daunting schedule.
“Our schedule is very tough. Saint Rose, Rumson-Fair Haven (High School), Manasquan (High School), Saint John Vianney (High School), Rutgers Prep (School),” Montano said. “We play a lot of teams that are more experienced and have been there, done that. But if we keep playing and growing, we should get better as we go.”