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Caseys, Bulldogs post successful basketball seasons

Red Bank Catholic High School boys basketball player Alex Bauman is guarded out on the wing by Rutgers Prep's Ryan Pettit during the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public A championship game on March 9 in Medford. Rutgers Prep defeated Red Bank Catholic 63-60.

There were a lot of memories made during the 2021-22 season that the Red Bank Catholic High School and the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School boys basketball teams will always remember.

The RBC Caseys went 24-5 and contended for their first state sectional tournament crown since 1977.

“What a beautiful team to coach,” Coach Tyler Schmelz said. “I am thankful I was able to coach these guys. I loved coaching this team.”

The Caseys had a chance to win the school’s second state sectional tournament title and its first since 1977 when they met Rutgers Preparatory School of Somerset County in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A state sectional tournament championship game on March 9 at Lenape High School in Medford.

Things looked promising for the Caseys early in the contest. Senior C.J. Ruoff scored 11 points in the first half as RBC built a 29-23 halftime lead over the Argonauts.

 

RBC appeared to be in control of the action, but the game changed in the final few minutes of the third quarter. Rutgers Prep mounted a comeback and Ryan Pettit hit a half-court shot to end the quarter that cut the Caseys’ lead to 46-41.

Pettit’s basket gave the Argonauts life and set the tone for an action-packed fourth quarter  that saw the Caseys do everything they could to hold the lead. As Rutgers Prep inched closer, RBC had the answers and held a 56-52 lead with 2:47 to play.

Leading 56-55, sophomore Gioacchino Panzini completed a three-point play with 1:19 to play to put the Caseys ahead 59-55.

But led by Jadin Collins, Rutgers Prep outscored the Caseys 8-1 down the stretch to win 63-60 and claim its first state sectional tournament crown. Collins led all scorers with 33 points.

“It’s really difficult to end the season that way,” Schmelz said. “It’s never one play. It’s never one thing that happened. There are a lot of things that can happen in a basketball game. None of us should blame ourselves. Rutgers Prep is a great team. They made plays when they needed to.”

Ruoff scored 18 points and Panzini scored 15 points to pace the Caseys. Freshman Ryan Prior scored 10 points off the bench in the state sectional tournament championship game.

The loss was a tough end to an outstanding three-year run by seniors Alex Bauman, Cyril Arvanitis, Wyatt Haselbauer, Connor Wanagiel and Ruoff. RBC was 53-16 in that span and 36-6 in its last 42 games.

“That’s really special,” Schmelz said. “My seniors were great and are really good people. We had some great victories. I love them.”

For the Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs, 2021-22 was another winning season under Coach Chris Champeau, who guided his team to a second state sectional tournament championship in five years.

The Bulldogs won the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II state sectional tournament championship on March 7 with a 75-44 victory over Bound Brook High School.

Senior Scott Gyimesi scored 24 points and pulled down 20 rebounds in the championship game. Gyimesi averaged 18.9 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game during his final scholastic campaign.

Senior Owen Sullivan scored 15 points in the victory over Bound Brook. Junior Cal Famula scored 14 points and senior Geoff Schroeder scored 11 points to give the Bulldogs four players in double figures in the state sectional tournament championship game.

Famula led the team with 46 three-point field goals during the season.

Rumson-Fair Haven (21-4) saw its 2021-22 campaign end in the Group II state tournament semifinals against South Jersey Group II champion Camden High School on March 9. The Panthers defeated the Bulldogs, 77-43.

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