Norris: Tigers again should learn from the experience

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 10:36 PM

It wasn’t normal for young men to wear earrings in both ears 32 years ago when Sherry Norris won her first state basketball title, but it seems like that’s all you see nowadays.
Young ladies weren’t handling the basketball the way Harding University High School’s point guard dribbled it Saturday at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum, either.
Now, I should tell you that Chapel Hill’s players laughed when I brought that up after the Rams beat them 56-52 to win the state 3-A championship for the second year in a row.
Norris also didn’t seem to think that Abrea Harris, Harding’s 5-9 point guard, was all of that.
“I saw her play last year,” Norris said.
Chapel Hill dealt with headstrong West Craven point guard Jamie Cherry during an Eastern Regional game a week ago in Fayetteville, and she was just as good as Harris, Norris said.
“That girl just made it look a little better because she had a look-away pass,” Norris said.
At that point during the postgame interviews, Chapel Hill guard Jamella Smith got in her coach’s ear and offered the correct terminology to describe Harris’ passes.
“No-look. Oh, that’s the word,” Norris said. “I dated myself.”
Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother in her 36th year of coaching, was surrounded by a pack of disappointed Tigers.
The mood was similar a year ago when Chapel Hill lost in the semifinals. Norris told her players to remember the feeling. She said that motivated them to make a deeper run this time around.
Chapel Hill senior Laura Musalem said both she and her teammates had been talking about picking out championship rings before even getting on the court with Harding, which is a no-no.
“I feel like we didn’t put enough thought into the actual game before getting the ring,” Musalem said.
“I think that’s a very good statement that she made,” Norris said. “Before you can win, you have to learn how to win.”
After the first timeout, Norris said she could tell her Tigers had a case of the nerves.
The girls who started for Chapel Hill against Harding, plus several key reserves, all come back next year. Their nerves won’t be so bad, and the Tigers likely won’t shoot 20.6 percent like they did in the first half against the Rams.
And if Harding finds a way back into the championship game for the third consecutive season, Chapel Hill wouldn’t have to deal with Harris, who was named the most valuable player of the title game for the second straight time.
“I watch the NBA a lot,” Harris said.
Makes sense.
Harris was on the floor with enough ball wizardry about her to remind you of Magic Johnson, although her solid frame and tattoos may have conjured thoughts of LeBron James.
Like I said, a lot has changed since Norris won it all three decades ago. Pregame music has gone from Lionel Richie to Lil Wayne.
Much has changed.
But while plenty about the game has evolved since 1981, what has remained the same is the fundamental principle of making the ball fall through the net, and Chapel Hill had serious issues with that in the first half.
“We didn’t shoot well in the first half, but we came back and outscored them in the second half,” Norris said. “But that nine-point deficit was just too much for us to overcome.”
Expect the Tigers to be better for the experience next season.

You may contact John McCann at jmccann@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6601.