OCEAN CITY - Holly McKaig missed all four of her foul shots Friday night.
The Middle Township High School forward then got an impromptu shooting lesson from her aunt.
It came in handy against Millville on Saturday afternoon.
McKaig tied the game with a 3-point play with 17.3 seconds left in regulation. Middle went on to win the Ocean City PBA Tipoff Weekend game 52-44 in overtime. Marianna Peterson sank her only 3-pointer of the game to give the Panthers the lead for good in overtime. Middle trailed most of the fourth quarter but began the overtime with a 7-0 run.
"We weren't pressured for time in overtime." Peterson said. "We calmed ourselves down and said 'C'mon girls we got this.' "
The game matched two teams expected to contend for the Cape-Atlantic League championship. Middle Township (2-0) is No. 7 in The Press Elite, while Millville (1-1) is No. 10.
The game also featured two of South Jersey's best point guards in Lauryn Fields (20 points) of Middle Township and Lexi Bruno (20 points, eight rebounds) of Millville.
McKaig's 3-point play came with 17.3 seconds left and Millville ahead 42-39.
McKaig (12 points, 14 rebounds) grabbed a miss under the basket and scored. Millville fouled her on the shot.
"It was so nerve-wracking," she said. "When they called the foul, I was shaking. I'm bad at foul shooting."
McKaig's aunt is Bernie Kozlowski, who played NCAA Division I basketball for Lehigh University in the late 1980s. After Middle's Friday night win over Bridgeton, Kozlowski gave McKaig some foul-shooting tips under the lights on the court at McKaig's Cape May Court House home.
"She told me the most important thing was to relax and take a deep breath," McKaig said.
McKaig had made 3-of-6 attempts in Saturday's game before she went to the foul line to try to make the tie game.
"I told myself I would make it," she said.
She did to tie the game.
Middle forced overtime despite not scoring for nearly seven minutes during the second half. Middle led 37-29 when the drought began with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Millville led 40-39 when it ended with 1:33 left in regulation.
Once Middle survived regulation, the overtime was nothing.
Peterson sank a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:12 left to put the Panthers up 45-42.
"My coach (John Leahy) always encourages me to shoot the ball," Peterson said. "He'll get more mad if you don't shoot it. We needed the shot, so I knocked it down."
Fields followed Peterson's 3-pointer with a basket in the lane and two shots to give Middle a 49-42 lead with 1:46 left. Millville never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
"We can definitely build on this win," Leahy said. "They're a very talented team. It's nice to win a hard-fought game but know you still have a lot of things to work on."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Millville 11 14 7 10 2 – 44
Middle Township 13 8 16 5 10 – 52
MV - Bruno 4 10-12 20, Smith 3 2-2 9, Taylor 3 0-0 6, Gaskins 2 1-4 5, Smith 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 13-19 44.
MT - Fields 7 2-4 20, Salvo 3 0-0 6, McKaig 4 4-7 12, Legler 2 5-8 11, Peterson 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 11-21 52.
3-Pointers - Bruno (2), Smith MV.; Fields (4), Legler (2), Peterson MT.
Records - Millville 1-1; Middle Township 2-0