HILLSDALE, NJ - It could have been a long bus ride home from Bergen County for the Chatham girls basketball team on Sunday.
The Cougars appeared to be in a gift-giving mood in the fourth quarter, allowing Old Tappan to erase what had been a 12-point Chatham lead. The Golden Knights scored five points in the final 26 seconds of regulation - capped by a buzzer-beating shot - to tie the score and force overtime.
But Tess Ford, Meja Jaegerskog and Maddie Hartnett brought back tidings of good cheer in the overtime period, sending Chatham to a 43-38 win at the Zack Latteri Benefit Games held at Pascack Valley High.
"I just said to them, would I have liked a 20-point win? Yes," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "But to go through this early in the season, with kids in new roles and overcoming a little bit of a meltdown, and then pulling away and getting it done with clutch foul shots in overtime is a great experience."
All the points in the extra session were scored from the foul line, where Chatham (2-0) shot 80 percent, sinking 8 of 10, in outscoring Old Tappan (1-1), 8-3. Shannon Donohoe hit one foul shot and Ford hit both ends of a one-and-one to start the extra session.
The Cougars clinched the game in the final minute of the overtime when 6-1 freshman Jaegerskog sank two free throws (see below) with 31 seconds showing for a 41-38 advantage. Hartnett then stole the ball at the defensive end and followed with two free throws with 3.7 seconds left to cap her 19-point effort.
Chatham had taken its biggest lead of the game with 5:35 left in the third period when Ford nailed a 3-pointer (see below) off an offensive rebound and pass from Carly Frohnapfel for a 29-15 lead.
Ford's baseline drive for two points handed the Cougars a 31-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter before the game went sideways. Old Tappan opened the fourth with an 11-2 run to close its deficit to 33-30.
Hartnett dropped in both ends of a one-and-one with 36 seconds left for a 35-30 Chatham lead before Old Tappan made its improbable comeback to tie the score.
Tess Ford, Meja Jaegerskog and Maddie Hartnett talk about the win
Hartnett scored 12 points in the first half sinking three 3-pointers (see video below) and three free throws, sparking Chatham to an 11-point lead.
The Cougars put together a 13-6 run in the second quarter to take a 21-11 lead into the break, starting with Jaegerskog's three-point play to start the period (see below) and bookended by Lea Casano-Boris' jumper with 25 seconds left in the half (see below).
COUGAR NOTES: The Cougars hit 8 of 10 free throws in the overtime and 14 of 19 overall (73.6 percent), led by Maddie Hartnett, who sank 7 of 8. Old Tappan made 4 of 10 free throws ... In the unheralded play department, Jaegerskog went to the floor to gain possession of a loose ball in overtime, which led to a free throw by Tess Ford and a 39-35 lead with 1:41 to go ... Ford was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, but came back to score all 10 of her points in the second half, three in overtime ... Chatham plays host to Hunterdon Central, 12:30 Monday.