Buccaneers score ‘morale boosting’ first victory of 2021 basketball season

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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Amelia Medolla drives towards the basket during a game played against Freehold Township on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Red Bank Regional defeated Freehold Township 56-53 for its first victory of the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Emma Moriarty knocks down a free-throw attempt during a game played against Freehold Township on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Moriarty scored a team-high 17 points in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Caitlyn Decker tries to drive past Freehold Township's Emily Tran during a game played on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Red Bank Regional won 56-53. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Amelia Medolla drives towards the basket during a game played against Freehold Township on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Red Bank Regional defeated Freehold Township 56-53 for its first victory of the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Emma Moriarty knocks down a free-throw attempt during a game played against Freehold Township on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Moriarty scored a team-high 17 points in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School girls basketball player Caitlyn Decker tries to drive past Freehold Township's Emily Tran during a game played on Feb. 3 in Little Silver. Red Bank Regional won 56-53. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The joy of playing games has been the focus for the Red Bank Regional High School and Freehold Township High School girls basketball teams this winter, given the uncertainty of playing sports during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The teams met on Feb. 3 in Little Silver and battled through four quarters in search of their first victory. In the end, the Buccaneers prevailed, 56-53, on their home court.

“To come back and get a win against a quality program is a step in the right direction,” Red Bank Regional Coach John Truhan said. “I’m happy for our kids. We are playing. We are competing. Games matter. Playing matters. I’m just happy for the kids to get a season in.”

Three-point field goals were the key to the Bucs’ success as they made 10 shots from behind the arc, including seven during the first half.

Senior Emma Moriarty hit five three-pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points.

Moriarty and Chloe Teter combined for four bombs from behind the arc in the second quarter to help Red Bank Regional take control. Teter’s second three-pointer of the first half was part of an 11-2 run to begin the second quarter as the Bucs grabbed a 26-18 lead.

Moriarty followed by knocking down her third triple moments later to give Red Bank Regional a 29-20 advantage.

“I felt that my shot was on,” Moriarty said. “I have great teammates who kept getting me the ball. They did a great job getting the ball to me when they knew I was on.”

The Bucs led 29-24 at halftime.

Things got dicey for Red Bank Regional in the third quarter as Freehold Township went on a 14-0 run at one point to take a 40-34 lead.

The score was tied 40-40 as the fourth quarter began after Moriarty connected on her fourth three-pointer and Teter followed with a three-point play in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Teter finished with 15 points. The senior scored in double figures in each of the team’s first three games.

Coming down to a winner-take-all fourth quarter, Red Bank Regional came up with a roaring start in a bid for its first victory.

Senior Amelia Medolla cashed in five quick points and Moriarty struck from downtown, knocking in her fifth three-pointer on a corner jumper, for a 48-43 lead with 4:39 to play.

“Our play was to have open corners and Caitlyn (Decker) did a great job on the drive to pass it to me,” Moriarty said of the play’s design. “It was a perfect opportunity and I was happy when it went in.”

Hitting five three-point field goals to help her team win will be something Moriarty said she will “always remember,” especially as she did it during her senior season.

Free throw shooting down the stretch helped secure the win. Decker hit all four of her free throws in the final minute, including two with under :15 left to put the Bucs up by three points.

“For me, foul shots are all about muscle memory,” Decker said. “You have to zone everyone out and calm down.”

Needing one more stop to cement the victory, Decker came up with the game-clinching steal to help Red Bank Regional improve to 1-2.

Decker scored all six of her points in the second half. Medolla added 12 points in the victory to give the team three players in double figures.

The feeling of victory was a “morale booster” in Decker’s mind. She said she believes the Bucs can get on a roll in a season that is unlike anything the players have ever experienced.

Truhan is just happy his seniors and the rest of his players are getting the opportunity to compete. Winning is great, but Truhan knows “it’s more special just to play” at this time.

He certainly feels that way about Teter, Medolla and Decker, who have helped take the program to new heights over the last four years.

“There are records to be had by Chloe, Amelia and Caitlyn,” Truhan said. “To have a season gives those kids a chance to etch their names in the history of Red Bank. What we have done in the last four years is a credit to those three kids.”

Red Bank Regional is scheduled to play Middletown South on Feb. 6 and then begin a two-game series against Long Branch on Feb. 8.