Barnegat Girls Basketball Squad Stuns Cinnaminson in South Group II Quarters

Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat’s Shannon McCoy follows through on a three-point field goal with 26 seconds left during the Bengals’ 47-46 win over Cinnaminson in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II quarterfinals on March 1.

If Shannon McCoy was nervous, nobody in the Cinnaminson High School gym knew it. Maybe it was the fact the senior had been through many hair-raising moments on the basketball court throughout her career. Or maybe she has ice water running through her veins. Nonetheless, with .1 seconds on the clock and almost an entire building’s worth of frenzied fans screaming in unison to distract her, McCoy buried the two biggest foul shots of her life on March 1. And with that, the Barnegat girls basketball team pulled off a stunning upset, 47-46, and advanced to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II semifinals for the first time in program history.

“That definitely was the biggest moment of my career so far,” said McCoy, who in the fall will head to Kean University and continue playing basketball. “I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. But I definitely believed I’d make those two foul shots.”

Taking on the second-seeded Pirates, the seventh-seeded Bengals took a four-point lead, 21-17, into the third quarter. Cinnaminson used a 12-6 run in the third to grab a two-point advantage heading into the fourth, and that’s when the game got really interesting.

After the Pirates increased their lead to eight, 35-27, with just over five minutes left, Barnegat began its comeback, starting with a Ginalee Erskine layup with 5:25 to go.

“I consider myself a practice player, one of the seniors who pushes everybody during practice to help them get better,” said Erskine, who finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. “We have a lot of chemistry on our team, and I trust my teammates to get things done when it’s needed. We wouldn’t have been where we are without everybody doing her part.”

After McCoy, who finished with 20 points and nine boards, drained one of her two three-point field goals to trim the lead to 35-32, Cinnaminson scored on the other end to push the margin back to five points. But with 3:12 to go, senior Madeline Scott buried her only trey of the game with 3:12 left to cut the lead to two.

Following a minute’s worth of back-and-forth foul shooting, during which Cinnaminson’s Fiona Flynn outscored Barnegat junior Nikki Lozito, 4-3, to make it a three-point game, 41-38, with 1:56, McCoy traded layups with Flynn, and the Bengals were no closer going into the final minute. Two more free throws for Cinnaminson with 33.8 seconds remaining put Barnegat in a pretty good-sized hole.

“On the bus ride here, the four seniors sat and talked, and we kind of had this reality check, that this could be our last game together,” McCoy said. “But at the end of the game, I wasn’t going to let this be our last game. I was going to do everything I could to ensure we would keep making history.”

After a timeout, McCoy used only 7.6 seconds before popping her second three-pointer of the game, again cutting the lead back to two. Flynn made two more foul shots a few seconds later to make it 46-43, and then Erskine came up with what turned out to be the biggest play of the contest.

After McCoy launched a three-point attempt from the right corner and missed, Erskine snatched the rebound and delivered a putback with 10.1 seconds to go, cutting the lead to a point, 46-45.

“Ginalee’s the sleeper on the team,” McCoy said. “Everybody overlooks her, but she plays a very important role on the team. And right there, she’s the one who kept us in it and gave us the chance to win. Without that play, we lose.”

The Bengals fouled on the inbounds play, putting Kelly Kane at the line for two foul shots. She missed both, and mayhem ensued.

“Coach (Tammy) Nicolini was yelling at me to get to the basket,” McCoy said. “It was either one of two things – I was going to score a layup or get fouled and go to the line. Either way, we were winning this game. We didn’t want overtime. We wanted to win it in regulation.”

With 7.4 seconds on the clock, McCoy raced down the floor and went down the right lane along the foul line. She was fouled with .1 showing on the clock. After she hit nothing but net on the first foul shot, the opposing coach called a timeout.

It didn’t matter. McCoy’s next shot bounced off the back of the rim, then gently off the front of it and dropped through the net for the game-winner. Once the buzzer sounded, several dozen Barnegat fans, including an elated John Germano, the school’s athletic director, rushed the floor in celebration.

Unfortunately, the celebrating ended in the semifinals, when the Bengals (18-10) lost to third-seeded Haddonfield, 48-27. Holding an 11-point lead, 28-17, heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs pulled away with a 20-10 outburst. McCoy led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds to culminate her awesome career.

Southern Bounced
In First Round

While Barnegat lasted through the quarterfinals, the 10th-seeded Southern Regional girls hoops squad didn’t get past the first round of the South Jersey Group IV tournament, falling to seventh-seeded Shawnee, 47-40, on Feb. 27.

The Rams (17-10) fell behind, 14-6, in the first quarter before climbing back into the contest with a 12-4 second-quarter run to tie the game at halftime, 18-18. Southern outscored the Renegades, 17-14, in the third to take a three-point lead into the final quarter, but Shawnee used a 15-5 outburst to swipe the victory.

Senior Lauren Cruse led the Rams with 15 points, while junior Jacqueline Ward tallied 11 points. Senior Mikayla Nicolini contributed seven points and six rebounds.

— David Biggy

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.