Chapel Hill a game away from 3-A girls’ title

Mar. 10, 2014 @ 09:16 PM

Chapel Hill was out of sorts over the weekend in the NCHSAA 3-A Eastern regional championship game but got it together against West Craven and advanced to this Saturday’s state-championship contest in the Dean E. Smith Center at UNC-Chapel Hill (5 p.m.).

A Hickory team that likes to create points off its pressure stands between the Tigers and the title, Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris said after Monday’s press conference for the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s basketball state championships at the Sheraton Hotel in Chapel Hill.

Norris led Chapel Hill to the state title in 1981. Her Tigers played for all the marbles last season but lost to Charlotte’s Harding University High School at Reynolds Coliseum.

The Hickory-Chapel Hill game in the Dean Dome potentially does away with much of what threw the Tigers off their collective game against West Craven.

“This is a team that’s about going through their normal routine,” Norris said about the Tigers.

The Eastern regional tournament was at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville. Chapel Hill and West Craven had the noon game on Saturday. The Tigers were supposed to leave Chapel Hill at 8:15 a.m. but were told that the team bus couldn’t depart until 10 a.m., Norris said. Rough weather had created black ice in Orange County.

Chapel Hill arrived at Crown later than desired, interfering with the Tigers’ pregame flow. They felt rushed, Norris said.

But Chapel Hill rallied after trailing West Craven by 12 points.

Neither snow nor ice is in this weekend’s forecast, and the Smith Center basically is in Chapel Hill’s backyard, so the Tigers’ routine shouldn’t be impacted, Norris said.

But Hickory can rain points like Chapel Hill can. The Red Tornadoes have averaged at least 70 points per game and have been beating teams by about 34 points.

“I don’t’ know a lot about Hickory other than the fact that they’re 29-0,” Norris said.

Chapel Hill (31-0) is undefeated, too.

NCPreps.com has Chapel Hill ranked No. 1 in the state and has Hickory at No. 2.

Hickory is the 3-A tournament’s top seed from the Western region, and Chapel Hill worked its way through the Eastern region as the No. 1 seed.

Danasia Witherspoon is Hickory’s leading scorer with 20 points per game, but teammate Yazman Hannah scored 30 points in the Western regional final and was named most valuable player of the Western regional tournament.

Chapel Hill senior Catherine Romaine was the MVP of the Eastern regional tournament, doing it with defense, blocking nine West Craven shots.

Norris likes for the Tigers to score 20 points per quarter. That math didn’t work out against West Craven.

Chapel Hill guard Jessica Wall took some lumps against West Craven and left the game with blurred vision and facial bruises. Norris said she was waiting for an update on Wall, who was shooting 34 percent from 3-point range.

The 3-A title will go to the team that settles down first on the big stage, Norris said.