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Girls basketball: Bridget Ruskey leads Middle Twp. to OT win over Ocean City in CAL championship game

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Bridget Ruskey is a three-sport star at Middle Township High School. Imagine how good she would be if she dedicated herself to basketball full-time. The junior guard was savvy enough to avoid fouling out of the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament championship game on Saturday at Stockton University despite picking up her fourth foul early in the final quarter, and led the Panthers to the league title with a game-high 19 points. Second-seeded Middle Township gave up the lead in the final minute of regulation, but outscored top-seeded Ocean City 7-5 in overtime to win 36-34 and knock off the defending champions — who had beaten the Panthers twice during the regular season. “It’s amazing. You have visions of being here all year, and to win it is great. It was really hard. The first two times we played them we knew was for the (CAL National), but we knew coming in here today that this was the game that really mattered. And we got out here and did it, and it’s amazing,” Ruskey said. “I knew it was going to come down to the final seconds, but I would have never though overtime. But I’m glad that we got through it and won.” Senior forward Olivia Briggs scored 10 points for Ocean City in the loss to Middle Township. Senior forward Olivia Briggs scored 10 points for Ocean City in the loss to Middle Township. Ruskey opened the overtime period by nailing a 3-pointer, but Briggs, who scored 10 points, answered with a traditional 3-point play. But Ruskey went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to give the Panthers a 36-32 lead, and bucket by Briggs with 2.2 seconds left was too little, too late for Ocean City. “It was awesome. We knew it was going to be really close, and I’m just so happy we came out with the win. We knew what they were like, because we played them twice already. We knew what they wanted to do, so we practiced really hard to be able to stop their offense. We executed (the game plan) and were able to come out with the win,” said Herlihy. “It’s awesome. I can’t wait until next year when we have a chance to win it again.” Both teams were stout defensively — as expected — as a combined 27 turnovers were forced and neither team shot better than 37 percent from the floor. The difference was Middle Township’s ability to hit some timely shots from the outside. The Panthers shot 40 percent from 3-point range, while Ocean City went just 1-of-10. Point guard Grace Sacco led the Red Raiders with 11 points while also adding five assists, while Alexis Paone and Rosalia Daddi combined to add 10 points. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays   [adsense]

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