Caseys take South Parochial A title

RBC tops Bishop Eustace

59-47 in title game, plays

tomorrow in Elizabeth

LAKEWOOD — It may not have been their typical game, but it was a typical result.

The Red Bank Catholic girls basketball team beat Bishop Eustace of Pennsauken 59-47 to win the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Parochial A Tournament title on Tuesday in a game that was closer in the fourth quarter than the final score indicates.

The Crusaders battled back from a 35-21 first-halftime deficit to cut the Caseys’ lead to 40-37, when Ann Shovlin completed a traditional three-point play with 6:25 remaining.

"I knew they would come back at us," Red Bank Catholic Coach Joe Montano said of the team that eliminated his squad from the state tournament last year. "They got a couple of seniors out there; they’ve got a lot of pride; they’ve got 23 wins and she (Bishop Eustace Coach Doreen Lacatena) does a great job."

The Caseys pushed the lead back to five when Lynne Zoltowski finished on a pass from Alisa Kresge just 11 seconds later. Just 28 seconds after that, Kresge released an outlet pass that Brooke Tomovich converted for a 44-37 margin.

Jessica Depalo, who finished with a game high 16 points, completed a traditional three-point play to push the lead back to double digits at 47-37. She, too, was the beneficiary of a Kresge pass.

"Alisa’s been very aggressive and we did a great job of breaking the press," Montano said of the freshman point guard and total team effort. "The play’s designed to get the ball to the outside to hit our guard cutting though, and that gets her to the open floor where she’s a very good player."

The Crusaders did not fold their tent after RBC’s 7-0 run.

A put back by Shovlin, with about 2:30 remaining, cut the lead back to 49-45 and the Caseys were in a very unfamiliar place, needing to make foul shots to ice the game.

RBC’s lack of close-game experience did seem to show a bit as they went 6-of-11 from the free-throw line in the game’s final 2:21.

Kelli Talbot, who finished with 14 points along with eight rebounds and eight steals, was 4-of-7 from the line and she acknowledged that not being in that situation all year made it a little tougher.

"I guess I made the ones that were important, that we needed," Talbot said. "But we work hard on that and I’m still going to continue to work hard on my foul shots. I don’t care if I’m making 90 percent, I’m going to keep working on my foul shots."

One thing that did work the entire game for RBC was its defense.

Whether it was a rebound, Depalo grabbed 18, a blocked shot, Tomovich had three, or a steal, Kresge added three, Zoltowski two and Lindsey Woodfield also had one, the Caseys got what they needed.

"We definitely fell back on our defense," Talbot said. "If one of us has an off game offensively, we just pick that (defense) up even more."

That defense resulted in the final margin as the Caseys were able to hold the Crusaders to just a pair of free throws in the final 2:30.

With the victory the Caseys remained undefeated and matched the highest number of wins, 28, in school history. RBC’s girls hit that mark when they won the state Tournament of Champions in 1996.

"My biggest fear tonight, driving here, was that we hadn’t lost a game," RBC Coach Joe Montano said. "I remembered it would be our 28th win which would tie the ’96 team which won the State Championship, and as I was driving in I remembered how much we learned by losing to St. John Vianney (Holmdel) and Christ the King (Queens, N.Y.) that year, and how much it helped us in the state tournament."

The Caseys will face either Immaculate Heart Academy of Westwood or the Academy of the Angels of Demarest on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Dunn Center in Elizabeth. Those teams faced each other yesterday in the North Parochial A final.