FRANKLIN LAKE, NJ - During the timeout before the start of overtime in the Group 3 state semifinal, Chatham girls basketball coach Joe Gaba concentrated his message toward junior forward Shannon Donohoe.
Donohoe had missed a layup with 4.5 seconds left in regulation that could have clinched the win. Instead, Chatham was forced to play overtime against a Pascack Valley team that had all the momentum on its side.
"The biggest thing going into overtime was that I had to get Shannon mentally right," Gaba said. "We drew up a play and she missed a layup (in regulation). That whole 60 seconds was spent just nursing her mentally. We just kept saying next, next play, next play. As luck would have it, the ball found her and she made the game-winner."
Donohoe's basket with 41 seconds left gave Chatham the lead for good in its 41-38 NJSIAA Group 3 state tournament semifinal overtime win at Ramapo High, placing the Lady Cougars in the Group 3 final on Sunday in Toms River, where they will meet Mainland (27-3).
In the extra session, Michaela Ford's stutter-step drive to the basket (see the video below) gave Chatham the edge, 37-35, before a foul shot and Brianna Smith's spinning layup handed Pascack Valley a 38-37 lead with 1:06 showing.
Donohoe then scored on her put-back with 41 seconds left in overtime to give Chatham (23-6) the lead for good, 39-38 (see the video below).
On the other end of the court, Donohoe grabbed a loose ball and that led to two free throws by Michaela Ford with 14 seconds showing for the final points of the game.
Shannon Donohoe and Maddie Hartnett talk about the big misses and makes in the game
Chatham expanded its 21-15 halftime lead in the third quarter. Michaela Ford opened the second half with a drive into the lane for a floater that dropped (see the video below) and Hartnett (14 points) drained three 3-pointers (see videos) in the third period when the Lady Cougars built a 34-23 lead.
After Michaela Ford hit a free throw with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, the Lady Cougars did not score again in regulation. The Indians scored the final nine points to force the overtime.
"Like all great programs do, they make a push back," Gaba said. "Number 4 (Brianna Smith) just took over, put her team on her back and got them back into it."
Michaela and Tess Ford talk about the key moments in the Group 3 semifinal
LADY COUGAR NOTES: The Chatham girls basketball will be making its fourth appearance in the state final on Sunday when it meets Mainland, but is still seeking its first state championship ... Chatham reached the state final in 2004, 2009, 2010 - all under coach Gaba ... Chatham was held to one point - a foul shot by Michaela Ford - in the fourth quarter ... Maddie Hartnett hit three 3-pointers, Tess Ford hit two and Olivia Mathern one for Chatham.