Chapel Hill girls cap perfect season with 3-A title
The road to the 3-A state championship was paved with Chapel Hill gold on Saturday as the Tigers beat Hickory 69-56 at the Smith Center and finished their first perfect season.
Raziyah Farrington led the way with 22 points — 16 in the first half — en route to a championship game MVP performance. Catherine Romaine added 14, Jamella Smith scored 12 and Tamia Eatmon finished with 11 in a balanced Chapel Hill attack.
Chapel Hill, which lost the title game last season, won its second state title for Coach Sherry Norris. Her first title came in 1981 when Chapel Hill beat Cary for the 4-A championship.
“This entire season we’ve talked about making history and to go 32-0 and have an undefeated season is something that every coach that coaches dreams of,” Norris said. “That’s what you talk with your players at the beginning of the season. This is my 37th year coaching and I’ve never come close to that.”
Chapel Hill responded to a nice start by Hickory and went on a 12-0 run to go up 14-4 with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. And the Tigers went on to lead 23-6 at the end of the period.
The Tigers’ defense had held Hickory scoreless for almost eight minutes of game time until Sadasia Tipps scored on a drive to make it 28-8 with 6:26 left in the second quarter. From there, Hickory played evenly against Chapel Hill the rest of the half until the Tigers went into halftime with a 38-16 lead thanks to a 3-pointer by Farrington.
“Roziyah had a phenomenal first half,” Norris said. “I was really impressed with her scoring ability and doing what she did.”
Norris said her team’s first-half performance really set the tone in the game.
“They got off to a great start in the first half and to be up 22 at halftime was really nice,” Norris said. “It was good to have that breathing room because Hickory didn’t quit.”
The Tigers used a quick spurt to go up 46-20 on a pair of made free throws by Smith early in the third quarter. But Chapel Hill didn’t score another point in the third period.
Chapel Hill needed just about all of that cushion as Hickey climbed back into the game in the second half. They closed the third quarter with a 15-0 run and it eventually extended to 23-2 before Chapel Hill regained its bearings midway through the fourth quarter.
During Hickory’s comeback, Romaine picked up her fourth foul and had to go to the bench. She didn’t stay long, though. And upon her return 35 seconds later, Romaine had an immediate impact on Chapel Hill’s fortunes.
After Yazman Hannah made a 3-pointer to cut Chapel Hill’s lead to 48-43, Romaine came back with a layup to end the Tigers’ scoring drought. Then the Tigers forced a turnover on the inbounds pass for a layup by Eatmon to give Chapel Hill a nine-point lead.
A Hickory timeout didn’t stop Chapel Hill’s momentum as Romaine hit a cutting Smith for a 56-45 lead and the Tigers’ lead never went below double digits again.
Norris said having Romaine on the floor at that time of the game was critical for the win.
“She’s such a presence,” Norris said. “She had a basket and had an assist and really did a good job.”
Chapel Hill finished off the game by hitting seven of nine free throws the final two minutes to ward off any final comeback attempt by Hickory.
Hickory coach Barbara Helms said her team just didn’t get of to a good enough start in the first half to have a chance in the game. It was unexpected as her team also entered the game undefeated.
“We were really slow getting going,” Helms said. “I thought we made a great run in the second half. We dug ourselves a bad hole. I didn’t expect this from our team.”
Chapel Hill shot 43.9 percent (25 of 57) in the game and outrebounded Hickory 39-31. The Tigers also forced Hickory into more turnovers — 24-16.
NORRIS, TIGERS COULDN"T HAVE WRITTEN A BETTER SCRIPT FOR DREAM SEASON
By JOE JOHNSON
Special to The Herald-Sun
CHAPEL HILL -- There was only one destination the Chapel Hill girls thought about all season — the Smith Center.
After losing in the state championship game last season at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, Chapel Hill knew their next title shot would come closer to home. And after a string of 32 straight wins, the Tigers completed their championship run with a 69-56 win over Hickory in the 3-A title game.
“Since last year when we lost, we all had same mission of getting back here and winning the state championship,” said Chapel Hill senior center Catherine Romaine said. “We knew it was going to be at the Dean Dome this year so we thought that was such a special way to win a state championship in front of our hometown. That was our goal all season and I’m really happy we completed our mission.”
Romaine played a key role in Chapel Hill’s victory, helping the Tigers stave off a second-half comeback by Hickory. She sparked Chapel Hill’s final run with a couple of baskets and an assist after Hickory sliced the Tigers 26-point lead down to five with four minutes left in the game. And she did it with four fouls, which was good enough to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
Chapel Hill also got an tremendous performance by junior Raziyah Farrington, whose game-high 22 points earned her the Kay Yow MVP honors. She scored 16 points in the first half as the Tigers build a 38-16 advantage.
Farrington said the memory of losing in the championship game last season was a feeling she didn’t want to experience again.
“I knew I didn’t want to feel that feeling of last year,” Farrington said. “I knew I was going to have to step up and do something. But I feel like all of us played well. We played as a team and we knew we were going to have to get it done.”
Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris said her team knew the expectations were going to be high this season and she is pleased with the way they responded.
“This team has done a tremendous job of handling the pressure this year,” Norris said. “From the beginning of the year when we were predicted to win the championship, and these girls didn’t let that go to their head. A lot of times that press that you get can affect your work habits but it didn’t for these girls. They worked really hard in practice.”
Except for once.
“We’ve only had one really bad practice this year and that was Tuesday of this week,” Norris said. “Tuesday was the worst practice of the season. But Wednesday they came back in and they were refocused and they had a great practice. Thursday was better and yesterday was even better. It was a matter of regrouping. They have really handled the pressure really well.”
NCHSAA 3-A GIRLS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
March 15, 2014, Dean E. Smith Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
NO. 1 CHAPEL HILL 69, NO. 2 HICKORY 56
CHAPEL HILL MP FG-A FT-A R A F PT
Tamia Eatmon 28 4-5 3-5 4 0 2 11
Autumn West 24 3-14 0-0 6 2 4 6
Raziyah Farrington 26 5-9 9-10 3 0 0 22
Catherine Romaine 30 7-10 0-0 10 2 4 14
Jamella Smith 25 4-12 4-6 6 5 3 12
Helen Gaynes 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0
Paige Timothy 2 0-1 0-0 2 0 1 0
Mariah Jacobs 6 0-3 0-0 1 0 0 0
Jessica Wall 12 1-1 0-0 3 2 1 2
Jasmine Suitt 5 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 2
Totals 160 25-57 16-21 39 9 11 69
Percentages: FG .439, FT .762. 3-Point Goals: 3-7, .429 (Farrington 3-3, Smith 0-2, Jacobs 0-2). Assists: 11 (Smith 5, Romaine 2, West 2, Wall 2). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 1 (Romaine). Turnovers: 16 (Smith 4, West 4, Eatmon 2, Romaine 2, Farrington, Jacobs, Wall, Suitt). Steals: 15 (Eatmon 4, Farrington 4, West 2, Romaine 2, Smith 2, Wall). Technical Fouls: None.
HICKORY MP FG-A FT-A R A F PT
Danasia Whitherspoon 32 3-8 3-7 2 4 4 9
Yazman Hannah 30 6-15 2-4 3 2 4 16
Brittany Dixon 29 3-11 1-7 4 1 2 7
Sadasia Tipps 32 6-10 5-7 9 0 3 17
Ali Miller 11 0-2 0-0 1 0 1 0
Amiya McClain 18 1-3 1-1 3 2 3 4
Victoria Eckard 7 0-1 3-4 2 0 0 3
Grayson Cameron 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0
Totals 160 19-50 14-23 31 9 17 56
Percentages: FG .380, FT .609. 3-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (McClain 1-1, Hannah 2-4, Dixon 1-7, Whitherspoon 0-2, Miller 0-1, Eckard 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 3 (Tipps 2, Hannah). Turnovers: 24 (Dixon 9, Eckard 3, Miller 3, Whitherspoon 3, Hannah 2, Tipps 2, McClain 2). Steals: 4 (Whitherspoon 2, Hannah 2). Technical Fouls: None.
Chapel Hill 23 15 8 23 — 69
Hickory 6 10 19 21 —56
Final records — Chapel Hill 32-0, Hickory 29-1
Officials — Jimmy Benford, Ann Suttles and Clarence Peterson.
Note — North Carolina 3-A girls’ final regular-season rankings courtesy NCPreps.com.