RFH repels RBC in rivalry re-match

Just sat down to watch the Big East Battle of the Basement (Rutgers v Seton Hall).  There is really nothing more exciting than watching a team with an 0-7 record in conference play (Rutgers) take on a team with a 1-6 record in conference play (Seton Hall).  Yet I do it anyway; if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

Anyways, onto what was an absolutely crucial 64-54 win over Red Bank Catholic for Rumson-Fair Haven tonight.  As I understand it, the state playoff cutoff is February the 7th, and in order to qualify for the playoffs, a team has to have a record that is .500 or above.  Coming into the game against the Caseys, the Dawgs were 8-7, meaning that they needed to win two of the next four (RBC, Middletown South, Manasquan, and St. John Vianney) to make it in.  Tonight’s win means that this team will receive a state playoff berth if it wins one of the next three; I think that needing to win two of the next three would have put a lot of pressure on James Young’s squad and beating RBC lifts some of that weight off.  By no means I am suggesting that they take these next couple of games lightly, but I think this team will be a lot less uptight over the next three games.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some RBC game specifics:

1) I loved, I repeat, loved the game plan early on.  It was very obvious that this team had a clear-cut strategy: give it to big men Justin Hook and Dean Wise and let them take advantage of a smaller Casey team.  For those that have read this blog throughout the season, you know that I have always called for those two to get the ball more.  This team is blessed with both great guards and forwards, and at times during the season, I thought there was not enough balance between the inside and outside game.  Seeing Hook get 7 points in the first quarter alone was great, and I think it speaks volumes as to what RFH is capable if they utilize all of their weapons.

2) Clutch free throw shooting was a topic in my last entry, but it’d be downright wrong if I did not mention it again after tonight’s performance.  Once again, RFH came up huge from the charity stripe during the 4th quarter.  James LeCardi was 6-6, Hook was 2-2, Wise was 2-3, Jordan Iarussi was 2-2, Christian Puma was 2-2, and Matt Blumel was 5-6 for a grand total of 19-21.  A phenomenal number.  Major props to this group for shooting so well from the line.  It kills me to watch teams lose games because they can’t make their free throws when they count.

3) Another thing I am extremely happy with is the establishment of a consistent lineup.  The starters have been the same  throughout the season, but over the past 5-6 games (give or take a few), we’ve seen some a consistent substitution pattern develop.  Puma usually checks in somewhere during the 1st quarter as the defensive stopper; then, at the start of the second quarter, opposing teams get a real change of pace when Kevin Alter, Lucas Glass, Jimmy Cranwell, and Jack Wise get serious minutes.  This lineup change at the start of the second quarter is a huge luxury for Coach Young for more than a few reasons: 1) the starters get valuable rest, 2) the subs get rewarded for their work in practice with actual playing time, 3) the subs get valuable varsity experience, which will give them a leg up next season, 4) the starters get to look at the sets of the opponent from the sideline, meaning they don’t have to worry about running their own sets.  I know that we’ve seen this lineup a lot over the course of the season, but I wanted to give it some mention tonight.

Alright, I’m going to focus my attention back on the Toilet Bowl (Rutgers v Seton Hall).  See everyone at Middletown South on Saturday.

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