Statement made: No. 3 Saddle River Day tears up No. 5 RBC for big early-season win
Faith Williamson looked like any other freshman as she dragged a crate of water while balancing two basketballs in the St. John Vianney gymnasium on Sunday night.
But on the pitch, she looked anything but a rookie.
Williamson went six of seven beyond the arc on Sunday, finished with 18 points and orchestrated a game-changing run in the second quarter to help Saddle River Day, the No.3-ranked team in the NJ. com Top 20, an impressive 59-41 win over 5th-ranked Red Bank Catholic at the Shore Games at the She Got Game Classic in Holmdel.
“She has no idea what level she’s actually playing at,” Saddle River Day coach Danny Brown said. “It’s fun to watch that. She absolutely proved herself throughout training and for all of you today.
North Carolina engagement Paulina Paris finished with a team record 20 points for the Rebels and was the top player on the pitch, stretching Red Bank Catholic’s defense and using her athleticism to beat the Caseys’ length many times.
“My team and I were preparing for this all week,” said Paris. “We haven’t had a day off in a while and we knew this was the game we had to win before going to Florida. Our motto is that we break down our season into thirds. It’s the first third of the season and it’s the biggest win for us.
After a tied first quarter, Saddle River Day opened the game with a 17-4 run to open the second, turning a 12-12 game into a 29-16 lead thanks to a pair of 3 points from Williamson.
Red Bank Catholic never had the deficit below 11 after that.
“I think that’s really huge,” said Brown, who has repeatedly brought his Saddle River Day back to the hostile confines of the Shore Conference. “Obviously we didn’t discuss the importance of this game with the kids, but as the coaching staff we knew it was important to get this game. Not just to keep the momentum going, but to really prove to us what level we have reached over the past three weeks.
The rough spread heavily favored Red Bank Catholic in the first half as the Caseys entered the bonus even before the first quarter was over, but Saddle River Day combated that by going 10 players deeper than Brown over the four. or the last five seasons as The Rebels have grown into one of New Jersey’s top teams.
“We’ve played mostly seven, maybe eight in a game like this (in the past),” he said. “The kids work so hard in training. We have really identified the roles that they will play much sooner and I trust them. They prove day after day that they have them.
Saddle River Day’s scoring ability was excellent on Sunday, but his defense was what changed the game. The Rebels have lost size in almost every position, and particularly on the inside against Red Bank Catholic’s two Division 1 engagements at Justine Pissott (Tennessee) and Ally Carman (Boston College). But Saddle River Day never let any of those players establish themselves in the post and have been extremely disruptive and active in the passing lanes.
“We just had to play like we always do,” Paris said. “Our defense is so focused on helping, but we just helped today. We knew there was talent there that we needed to eliminate. We took them out and took care of the rest.
Saddle River Day held a 33-20 halftime lead and increased their lead to 22 points in the third quarter before Red Bank Catholic retaliated.
Pissott led all scorers with 21 points while Carman was limited to eight points and two rebounds.
“It was just a tough defense,” Brown said. “On the chin defense. My biggest concern was not the defense but the rebound. I thought the first couple of minutes we struggled until we figured it out. But the kids did a good job. This second quarter, we were actually overtaking them and that made the biggest difference for me. “
Saddle River Day is only two games away from the season, but already looks like a legitimate Contest of Champions title contender again. And the craziest part? This team is not 100 percent. University of Pennsylvania entry Saniah Caldwell returns from a knee injury in the offseason and Mia Walsh, the team’s top player off the bench last year, is also out.
In March, this team could – and probably will be – even better.
“Obviously we need Saniah,” Paris said. “If we’re going to get far into COT, we’re going to need her. As a team, we realized that we didn’t have it so we have to adapt without it. Our team has done a very good job in this regard.
“This is the last OCD and we’re going to get it.”
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