EDISON — With her team trailing by four and the clock winding down, Monroe High School sophomore Ashlyn Petersen stepped up and made the biggest shot of the day.
After getting multiple screens along the baseline, Petersen popped out in the right corner and knocked down a 3-pointer while being fouled to send the Monroe bench into a frenzy.
After she stepped to the line and knocked down the free throw, the game was suddenly tied and third-seeded Monroe had miraculously forced overtime.
In the extra session, the Falcons got yet another huge 3-pointer from senior Demi Rousseau and held on for a 53-51 victory over sixth-seeded Sayreville to advance to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament semifinals.
“I was very surprised I got fouled and I was equally surprised that I made it, but when that happened all the adrenaline just went through my body,” Petersen said. “I was so excited for myself and for my team, but there were a lot of nerves when I was stepping to the line because I knew I needed to hit that as well in order for us to get to overtime.”
Petersen finished with a team-high 20 points to go with six rebounds in leading Monroe into a meeting with second-seeded Piscataway Monday night at 5:30 p.m.
The Falcons trailed by as many as nine points in the third quarter, as they went through a stretch of more than 10 minutes of game time without a point. After scoring 15 points in the first quarter, the Falcons registered just two points in the second. But late in the third quarter, Cindy Foresta knocked down a pair of free throws and Petersen came up with a steal and a layup before Linda Wallentine canned a long 3-pointer to cut the lead to 27-26.
In the final stanza Sayreville refused to go away, turning to 1,000-point scorer Jackie Rodriguez for a scoring boost. The senior guard scored eight of her game-high 22 points in the fourth, adding six more in overtime.
A Ryane Brush layup with 27.4 remaining pushed the lead to 40-36, setting up Petersen for the heroics.
“That last play in regulation, we set it up for Ashlyn off a double-screen, which amazingly worked,” Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman said. “These girls are so resilient and they had it in their heads to fight back and keep their heads in it.”
In overtime, Monroe scored the first five points, with Rousseau’s second 3-pointer of the game forcing Sayreville to use a timeout. The teams went back and forth after that, with Amanda Quintero knocking down a triple before Petersen answered with one of her own. Petersen broke the final tie of the game with a layup after collecting an offensive rebound to put Monroe up 51-49.
Playing without leading rebounder Erin Seppi, Monroe was out-rebounded 40-23. Quintero had her way inside for Sayreville, collecting 12 rebounds to go with eight points. Denby added 10 points for the Bombers.
Erica Junquet had another all-around game, scoring nine points — all of which were in the fourth quarter and overtime — to go with seven steals and three assists.
“Erin is huge on the boards; she positions herself well to get rebounds, so everybody had to step it up today,” Vogtman said. “We struggled underneath, but we stressed that it was going to be something we’d have to pay attention to.”