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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Amber Williams saves the ball from going out of bounds during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament, March 4 in Jackson. Williams scored 12 points and made 17 rebounds to help the Jackson Memorial defeat Monroe 46-44. STEVEN BASSIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Zoe Mafi leads the ball to the hoop during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Group IV Central Jersey Tournament on March 4 in Jackson. Maffei scored 15 points to help the Jackson Memorial defeat Monroe 46-44. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Brooke McCown knocks down defender Monroe during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Group IV Group IV Jersey Tournament on March 4 in Jackson. McCown scored seven points in the competition. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Chloe Messer leads a quick break against Monroe during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament on March 4 in Jackson. Messer scored nine points in the competition. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF


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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Amber Williams saves the ball from going out of bounds during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament, March 4 in Jackson. Williams scored 12 points and made 17 rebounds to help the Jackson Memorial defeat Monroe 46-44. STEVEN BASSIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Zoe Mafi leads the ball to the hoop during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Group IV Central Jersey Tournament on March 4 in Jackson. Maffei scored 15 points to help the Jackson Memorial defeat Monroe 46-44. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Brooke McCown knocks down defender Monroe during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Group IV Group IV Jersey Tournament on March 4 in Jackson. McCown scored seven points in the competition. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF

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Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Chloe Messer leads a quick break against Monroe during the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament on March 4 in Jackson. Messer scored nine points in the competition. STEVEN BASIN / STAFF


Jackson Memorial High School basketball player Brooke McCown would be the first to say that free throws aren’t one of her strengths.

But when the Jaguars lagged behind Middlesex County’s Monroe Township High School, 44-43, with less than 40 to play in the semifinals of the Group 4 Central Jersey State Section Tournament on March 4 in Jackson, McCown found himself on the charity run.

McCown had already missed both free throw attempts earlier in the quarter. All sorts of insecurities could creep into her mind as she stood in line, but the elder had none of that.

Having a place in the state championship in a sectional tournament, McCown made both free throws to gain a 45-44 advantage.

“This is my last year and I didn’t want it to be the end,” McCown said. “I went out there and did my best. I’m so close to this team, and I didn’t want the (season) to end. “

Moments later, after Chloe Messer missed a free throw, McCown captured a rebound in attack with: 07 to play. She was foul with: 04 to play, and executed her first free throw to bring the Jaguars ahead 46-44.

McCown missed his second free throw, but the Falcons failed to secure a rebound, and the final seconds hit back. Thus, “Jaguars” celebrated the victory and the first in the program since 2013 visit to the state sectional tournament.

“Everyone knew we had to step up to win,” said McCown, who completed seven points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Junior Zoe Maffei scored 15 points and made eight rebounds in a bright game for the Jackson Memorial.

Maffei fought a foul during the game and was declared on her fourth foul after a 3:18 charge that was played in the third quarter. She injured her nose during the game, leading to her fourth foul, and stayed until the end of the quarter.

Maffei returned to action in the fourth quarter and had an instant impact, recording a three-point game that tied the game, 36-36, with a score of 5:43.

“Once I got this‘ one-on-one ’, the crowd went crazy,” Maffei said of her three-point game. “It was so good.”

In three matches of state sectional tournaments, Mafei scored an average of 19 points and more than nine rebounds per game.

Senior Amber Williams scored 12 points and 17 rebounds in a strong game in the forefront against Monroe Township. Messer added nine points for the Jaguars.

“Our girls have been competing very hard in these last two minutes,” coach Rachel Goodell said. “We kept on (free throw line). Monroe played with us very well. It was a great battle. “

On March 8, the Jackson Memorial (21-5) will host Middleton South High School in the Group IV Central Jersey Championship.

The last Jaguar title came in the 2011-12 season.

The last title in the Eagles section was won in the 2018-19 season.

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