Bengals Bury Overbrook With Big Second-Half Spurts to Advance to Sectional Quarterfinals
Ashley Toner has made some big shots during the course of her career with the Barnegat High School girls basketball program. Her two biggest may have been a pair of three-point field goals coming out of halftime on Monday, Feb. 27.
“We had to take control in the second half,” said Toner, who banged down a trio of three-pointers en route to an 11-point effort which helped lead the eighth-seeded Bengals to a 62-32 blowout of ninth-seeded Overbrook in their NJSIAA South Jersey Group II first-round contest.
“We had to keep playing hard, keep fighting. But we had to take better shots in the second half and not let them back in the game. We put ourselves in a good position at the start of the second half. We weren’t looking back at that point, just forward.”
After Overbrook closed what was an 11-point gap with a 7-2 run to end the second quarter, the Bengals (16-11) took a six-point lead, 25-19, into the half. But then Barnegat ripped off 15 straight points to start the third quarter as it completely took the Rams (11-12) out of the game.
“We had a little second-quarter breakdown and let them back into the game,” said junior Shannon McCoy, who led the way with 25 points, including nine during the third quarter, and 10 rebounds. “We had to stop rushing our shots and play with a more controlled offense. And then everything started to click in that third quarter. We put all the little things together.”
After Toner buried her second and third treys within the first 1:15 of the second half, senior Kate Siciliano scored on a layup during a fast break following a turnover, before McCoy put down a three-pointer from the right baseline with 5:30 left in the quarter to push Barnegat’s lead to 17 points, 36-19.
As Overbrook’s coach did nothing to stop the Bengals’ momentum, they continued to stretch the lead. McCoy took a great bounce pass from Toner to score an easy transition layup, before McCoy added a pair of foul shots with 3:31 left in the third to make it a 21-point contest and complete the 15-0 run.
Another layup from McCoy and a layup by Alexis Kirk helped the Bengals take a 45-25 lead into the third quarter. An 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter sent Barnegat on its way to the quarterfinals.
After McCoy drilled her third three-pointer to start the fourth, Ginalee Erskine put down a layup, Toner dropped in an eight-foot jumper along the baseline, Maddie Scott added a short runner in the paint and McCoy capped her team-high effort with a pair of free throws with 2:58 left as the Bengals went up by 31 points, 56-25.
A Scott putback was followed by a Maddie Forsberg layup and two more foul shots from Kirk as the Bengals completed the rout. Senior Roxy Urso was a huge factor for the Bengals, as she snatched 13 rebounds and led the squad with five points in the second quarter. Erskine finished with seven boards, while McCoy was a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line.
“Everybody was really excited about this game,” McCoy said. “We were having a doubleheader with the boys, and so all the students and teachers were talking about it last week. And it was good for both our teams to be able to support each other. We usually don’t get to see each other play, so this was a big day for us.”
Toner said the atmosphere was perfect for a state tournament game, even though it was she and the others seniors’ final game in their gym.
“It definitely was bittersweet,” Toner said. “This has been my life for four years, and a couple of us have been part of the program together for all four years. So it was emotional. But our fans were here and the crowd brought a great atmosphere, so we were fortunate to have another game here, especially with it being the state tournament.”
By advancing, the Bengals were scheduled to meet top-seeded Middle Township in the sectional quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 1. The winner will meet either fourth-seeded Sterling or fifth-seeded Lower Cape May on Friday, March 3.
“We’re going to try to keep it going,” Toner said. “We have to play our best, no question about it. But we believe in ourselves, and we don’t mind being the underdog. Nobody’s expecting us to win, so that would be the perfect time to try to spring an upset.”