The road to the historic 1995-96 Red Bank Catholic Girls Basketball season began the previous year when the Caseys went 22-3 and won the program’s first ever Shore Conference Divisional Championship. The team’s 49-44 victory at St. John Vianney sent the message that RBC would be a force to be reckoned with in New Jersey Girls Basketball. However, that dream season came to an abrupt end when St. John Vianney crushed the Caseys 74-36 in the NJSIAA tournament. That 74-36 score lit up the RBC scoreboard all summer and motivated the team as they prepared for the much-anticipated 1995-96 season.
The Caseys began that 1995-96 season in December with a first place finish in the Buc Holiday Tournament, and by January the team was ranked sixth in the state. The Caseys raised the bar of competition by traveling in the snow to Queens, New York to face national powerhouse Christ the King. Losing a close contest to the legendary Royals helped the team gain valuable experience and confidence.
Senior captains Lauren Brutsman, Erin Douglas and Angela Cappadona were prepared to lead a determined team into the postseason when the Caseys advanced to the Shore Conference final to face St. John Vianney. The game ended in a disappointing narrow defeat to the Lancers which shook the confidence of this veteran group. Nevertheless they moved on to start the state tournament with a 61-46 victory over St. Rose. Then, a sold-out St. James gymnasium was the site of round three of the RBC - SJV matchup. With the season on the line, the Caseys were at last victorious with a 57-51 win over the Lancers, and they advanced to their first ever state sectional final. Two nights later at Lakewood High School, RBC held on for a 46-45 victory over Gloucester Catholic and the Parochial B South State Championship.
Next up was the group state final vs. DePaul Catholic. Going into the game, the Caseys knew they would have to defend Maureen Garvey, the all-time Passaic County leading scorer. Junior Abby Crotty held Garvey to 4 of 16 shooting and the Caseys advanced to their first ever Tournament of Champions with an impressive 61-33 victory. In the TOC semifinal, RBC defeated Shore Conference rival Rumson Fair-Haven Regional 52-44 to advance to the overall New Jersey Championship at the Meadowlands Arena against Group IV champ Elizabeth.
On March 18, 1996, with the RBC driver Lou at the wheel, the Caseys left Red Bank and traveled to East Rutherford looking to make history. The game began with both teams showing nerves on the big stage, and Elizabeth held an 18-16 lead at the half. To start the third quarter the Caseys changed their defense to a match-up zone, and Elizabeth managed to score only 13 points in the second half. Junior guard Amy Nolan hit two big three point shots to give RBC the lead for good and was named MVP at game’s end. Elizabeth’s 31 points remains the lowest ever scored in a TOC final.
Casey fans in their green Irish derby hats reveled in delight as RBC completed their journey with a 38-31 victory over Elizabeth, and high above the Meadowlands Arena a plane circled, trailing a banner declaring: “RBC- #1 in New Jersey.”
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