GLOUCESTER – Lisa Gadeka was well aware there was not going to be a lot of margin for error for her Gloucester Catholic High School girls basketball team.
The Rams were playing the defending state champions in Red Rank Catholic and Gedeka knew, if a lot things didn’t go right for her team, there was a lot of potential for things to go wrong.
And so it was for the Rams, who were taken out of contention early and were then overmatched.
The Caseys easily withstood a late comeback attempt and defeated the Rams 56-39 in a South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal game.
The No. 3 seed in the Group, Red Bank Catholic advanced to play St. Rose in a battle of potential state champions in the sectional final.
“We’re disappointed,” said Gadeka, whose team went in the post-season as the No. 2 seed in the bracket. “We played just the opposite of what we wanted to. Against this team, you have no room for error.”
The Rams never recovered from a 10-0 deficit to start the game.
“We not only made tons of mistakes in the beginning,” Gadeka said. “But they just outhustled us. We just built too big of a hole. So now you make a run and you’re still down by 12.”
The Rams placed two players in double figures, Azana Baines with 14 and Jada Williams with 11.
But, like her coach, Baines said the Rams couldn’t recover from a poor start.
“I would say we weren’t prepared for the zone they came out in,” she said. “It was something we never saw throughout the year, so it was something new.
“We didn’t know how to handle it. We were picking up our dribble, dribbling into corners and stuff. So it was a rough start.”
Red Bank Catholic coach John Montano confirmed that the Casey’s normally play man-to-man defense, but they switched for this game.
“We played probably 95 percent zone tonight,” he said. “We just kind of thought with the matchups and some of the things Lisa does, we were better off in a zone. Fortunately for us, they didn’t shoot real well in the beginning of the game.”
Despite going down so hard in the finale, Gadeka took some solace from the fact her young team put together a fine season.
After losing four starters and two subs from last year’s squad, not a whole lot was expected from the Rams this season.
Yet they won some big games during the course of the year and they finished the season with a record of 24-4.
“If you think of it, Azana was the only one coming back with any significant varsity experience,” Gadeka said. “But as the year went on we grew as a team.”
That did not prevent the Rams from falling out of contention against Red Bank. Despite, the Rams playing better in the second half, they never got the deficit into single figures.
The Caseys wasted no time in take charge, with a 12-5 lead after one quarter and then stretching that into a 29-11 halftime lead.
The Rams did spring to life a little bit midway through the third and fourth quarters. They put together a 20-point fourth quarter, and Gadeka said her girls never gave up.
“Once we started making some shots, and we got into our press we started to spark a little life,” the coach said. “We hicccupped a little bit for two quarters. But I thought for two quarters we showed heart – we showed guts. We played Gloucester Catholic basketball.
“I was very proud of our team with how we ended the game.”
SJ Non-Public A semifinal
Red Bank Catholic 12 17 11 15-56
Gloucester Catholic 5 6 8 20-39
RBC: Sophina Sabino 5, Fabriene Eggenschwiler 2, Katie Rice 9, Maddie Fagan 2, Haley Moore 10, Rose Cavery 7, Amanda Hart 11, Shaelyn Sabino 2.
GC: Lindsey Eggers 2, Azana Baines 14, Jada Williams 11, Mykayla Carvey 6, Bella Steidle 6.