(Video courtesy Missy Bock and MTHS athletics)
By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Middle Township High School basketball teams each won third-place games at the Score at the Shore Tournament at Southern Regional High School Saturday.
Both games were exciting in different ways.
Charlie McNeal’s short jump shot just prior to the buzzer allowed the Panthers to complete an impressive comeback and post a 42-41 victory over Howell in the boys game.
And in the girls game, Kira Sides poured in 27 points and Middle rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the third quarter to earn a 52-47 win over Mainland in a battle of two of South Jersey’s top teams.
In the boys game, Middle trailed by 16 points at halftime. The Panthers then outscored Howell by 18-8 in the third quarter and by 11-4 in the fourth, culminating with McNeal’s winner.
The junior guard drove toward the lane from the left wing and shot a heavily contested runner between two defenders that rattled into the basket as time expired. Middle’s players erupted in celebration, mobbing McNeal near halfcourt.
McNeal shot 4 for 5 from three-point range and scored 16 points to lead Middle. Kyiel Flanders added 11 points.
Middle, which improved to 2-2 with the victory, gained its only lead of the game on McNeal’s basket at the buzzer.
In the girls game, Middle trailed 36-29 in the third quarter before finishing the period on an 8-0 run. Sides scored all the points during the surge on a pair of three-pointers and two free throws.
Maddie Barber and Aubrey Hunter combined for 11 points in the fourth quarter to help Middle (3-1) pull away.
Oregon-bound Kylee Watson tallied 22 points for Mainland in the loss.