ATLANTIC CITY - The Egg Harbor Township High School girls basketball team led only once against Atlantic City on Monday in their Cape-Atlantic League American Division game.
But that was the last score of the game.
EHT's Emily Baker hit the winning basket with 25 seconds left to put Egg Harbor Township ahead 44-43. The basket was the finishing touch of a fourth-quarter rally, and the score held up for a 44-43 victory.
The Eagles' Selena Santiago had the ball at the foul line and sent a pass to Baker, who scored at the left side of the basket. The play began with a steal at halfcourt by EHT's Eryn Reed.
"They were doubling Selena and I tried my best to get open," said Baker, a 16-year-old junior. "We kept battling the whole time. We had the heart, and I knew we could do it."
Baker, who scored the Eagles' final six points, scored 12 points in all and had four assists and four rebounds. Santiago (four assists) also had 12 points, 10 of which came on five third-quarter baskets. Teammate Meaghan Mahana (11 rebounds) added 10 points, four of which came in the fourth quarter. Tamara Baum had six rebounds.
Atlantic City's Mone't Gist led all scorers with 17 points and had 18 rebounds. Sahara Lopez added 11 points, while Deaja Reynolds had eight points and Cassidy Shea had four steals.
"We finished late in the game and made some good stops," Egg Harbor Township coach Karen Shutz said. "They beat us on the boards in the first half, but then we started getting rebounds. Emily kept us in it at the end. We got the opportunity to run the lane, and hit the layup."
EHT improved to 5-8 overall and 4-4 in the division. The Eagles have won three of their last four games. Atlantic City is 6-7 overall and 4-4 American.
Atlantic City beat Egg Harbor Township 46-42 in EHT on Dec. 14.
The Vikings led Monday's game by eight points on six occasions late in the second quarter and early in the third.
"We knew it would be hard to come back, but we felt we had a chance," said Reed, a 17-year-old senior. "I just tried to get the steal, so we could get the basket. We executed well."
Santiago took over the game for EHT in the third quarter, and made key passes to teammates in the fourth.
"The coach told us (at halftime) that we had to pick it up," said senior Santiago, 17. "We played better in the second half. When they were double-teaming me, I knew I could rely on someone else to make the shot, whoever was open.
"We've improved because we're executing on offense and stronger on defense. We've worked hard in practice.
Atlantic City led 39-34 with five minutes left. Mahana hit two free throws and then a field goal to cut the lead to 39-38. A.C, and EHT exchanged baskets twice as Gist and Nairobi Hathaway (nine rebounds) scored for the Vikings and Baker hit twice for EHT
EHT had possession and trailed 43-42 with 1 minute, 26 seconds left, but A.C.'s Joey Nolan stole the ball with 49 seconds remaining. Reed's steal and the final basket came following a timeout. The last 20 seconds saw Atlantic City and then EHT each fail to score, and a last-second shot by the Vikings was off the mark.
"I'd say in the first and third quarters we played well, but it's hard to win when you only score five points in the fourth quarter," Atlantic City coach Chris Ford Jr. said. "When we hold a team in the 40s it's usually good enough to win, but we had a hard time scoring. If it wasn't for Mone't, we might have been blown out. She played a great game but didn't get much help. EHT always plays us tough."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Egg Harbor Township 8 8 15 13-44
Atlantic City 15 7 16 5-43
EHT-Baum 1 1-2 3, Mahana 4 2-2 10, Baker 6 0-1 12, Reed 2 1-2 5, Santiago 6 0-1 12, C. Pappas 0 2-2 2. Totals-19 8-14 44.
AC-Lopez 5 1-4 11, Gist 7 3-4 17, Hathaway 2 1-2 5, Reynolds 3 1-2 8, Shea 1 0-0 2, Nolan 0 0-0 0. Totals-18 6-12 43.
Records-EHT 5-8; A.C. 6-7.