2024 NJSIAA Non-Public Girls Basketball State Championship
(Photo by Sarah Middlesteadt - JSN)

Red Bank Catholic Tops Pope John 80-23 To Win Non-Public A State Title

On Friday afternoon, the Red Bank Catholic High School Caseys conquered their ninth state basketball title (Non-Public A) in an 80-23 final match against the Pope John Lions at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway.

The Pope John Lions started with an evenly distributed push, followed by a foul by Addison Platt in a foreshadowing of what was to come. Initially, the physical Pope John was countered by three 3-pointers in a row by Tessa Liggio. The response to those moves by Platt took roughly a minute and a half. The Lions' aggressive, foul-prone play continued as Mia Washington marked two fouls in the game's first four minutes. 

After a timeout five minutes in, the disparities began to show with a three-pointer by Red Bank Catholic's Daniela Maletsky, followed by a steal. The Caseys' attack moved right, facilitated mainly by Sophie Smith. Meanwhile, Pope John tried to fight back, moving the ball around. The final blows to their first-quarter strategy fell as the Lions entered the break at a 15-6 disadvantage.

The Lions' revamped strategy had Kaitlyn Platt, Marisa Captoni, and Cailey FitzMorris attempt to push toward the hoop from left to right as the defense attempted to clear out any threats on the line. Instead, the plan thinned out any defensive work and allowed Katie Liggio and Tessa Liggio to score two three-pointers each in three minutes.

Pope John then returned to their original plan of entrusting all offensive work to Addison Platt. By the time the quarter was five minutes in, the Caseys started keeping their opponents on their side of the court, with most offensive plays being smaller layups by Smith. A handful of escapes later littered with more scrambling and indecisive ball handling took the score by halftime to 41-10 in Red Bank Catholic's favor.

At the start of the third quarter, the Caseys wouldn't rely much on threes as they had for the first half of the match. The first few minutes were virtually a faceoff between Kaitlyn Platt and Addy Nyemchek, the only time both teams singled a player out for their offensive plays. Soon, Tessa Carman was defensively maneuvering for Red Bank Catholic under the hoop and fending off attempted steals. Late in the quarter, the Caseys' plays shifted to the right as Lola Giordano received the longer passes. These strategies alone were enough to augment the scoring difference, with the quarter ending at 65-21, 35-13 individually.

At the start of the final quarter, the Lions spent their time planning around the hoop, passing, and attempting slow advances, only to fall prey to a well-rested and precise RBC defense. By now, two to three minutes in, Nyemchek and Maletsky were managing attacks, one passing long and the other laying up or shooting threes from the corner. Pope John's offensive actions became more visibly cautious as time passed, the only apparently not phased being O'Keefe. A technical foul was issued to the Lions in the match's final moments. The game ended 80-23, a Red Bank Catholic Caseys' victory.