RED BANK: ANOTHER KETTLE CLASSIC

Two Red Bank Charter players hugging after they lost their game, above. Below, Ashley Houck of  Charter driving on a Seashore Academy defender. (Photos by Lola Todman. Click to enlarge)

By LOLA TODMAN

The Red Kettle Classic is a day-long series of elementary-school basketball games taking place from early in the morning each December at the Salvation Army gym in Red Bank.

This year’s edition, the eighth annual, held Saturday, featured boys’ and girls’ teams from Holy Cross and Forrestdale schools in Rumson; Knollwood School in Fair Haven; Seashore Academy in Long Branch; and Red Bank Charter School and St. James School in Red Bank.

In the large-school division, the Holy Cross boys beat Forrestdale, and on the girls’ side, Knollwood won for the fourth time in eight years over Forrestdale.

Here’s redbankgreen‘s report on the two small-school games.

At 4 p.m., Red Bank Charter’s girls took on Seashore girls. “It should be fun,” Charter player Jillian Cronin said before the game. “I’m still really nervous, though. Last year I was almost too scared to play.”

From the buzzer, Adriana Fletcher and the Seashore Sharks demonstrated an excellent amount of passing and communication. After six two-pointers by the Sharks, the the first period ended with a 12-0 score.

It looked as if the Charter girls were already done, but with 4:44 left in the quarter, Ashley Houck scored the team’s first basket, a three, followed by a two-pointer just a minute later. But then the Sharks poured it on, with Adriana Fletcher scoring three more two-pointers and one foul shot. Her other teammates also scored several two pointers, ending the second period with the impressive score of 23-5.

During halftime, Seashore coach Cali Conner was cheerily encouraging her team to come back into the second half with the same power that had made them so successful the first time. “I am very proud of my team right now. They’re working hard” she said.

Charter coach Vern Ford seemed calm, considering how the first half had gone. “They just have to be more aggressive and learn to pass more,” he said of his players. “It’s something they’ll have to work on, but it’s okay because we haven’t had many practices.”

In the third and fourth periods, Ashley Houck scored one more two pointer, and her teammate Maribel Rosas-Azcatl scored two field goals. But the Sharks put just as much effort into the second half as the first, and they scored another 14 points. The girls game ended with a 37-11 score.

At 5:30, the boys’ teams from Seashore and RBCS were up against one another. Before the game, charter school player Chris Outterbridge seemed glowingly confident.

“We’re about to win,” he said. “All you need to know, is that we’re about to win.” And it was clear within the first seconds of the game that he intended to make it happen.

Just 10 seconds into the first quarter, he scored a two-pointer. Twenty seconds later he scored another, and just 17 seconds after that, Charter’s Jaden Mack scored another.

Someone said it could be because of Chris’s height that he did so well (five-foot-eight in the eighth grade), but he said it’s because “I practice all the time. Basketball is my favorite sport.”

The first half ended with Charter leading, 28-19.

In their locker room, the the Charter squad congregated around Coach DJ Bacon, who told the players to stay on their men and “pick up on defense. We can win this”

Jaden Mack scored the first few points of the second half, followed by Chris Outterbridge scoring some more two-pointers. Number 2 on the Seashore sharks scored two two-pointers, and number 24 also scored a few more points. but the game ended on an incredible last basket for Charter, as the ball slid through the hoop at the exact moment the buzzer sounded, earning charter two more points.

Despite their tireless efforts, the Seashore Sharks boys lost to Red Bank Charter school by a score of 55-27. After the game, Chris Outterbridege, main scorer for the charter school turned back saying, “I told you so.”