Chapel Hill girls advance, will play for state 3-A title in Raleigh
The Chapel Hill girls’ basketball team is six days away from playing for a state championship after beating West Craven 59-51 for the NCHSAA 3-A East Region title at Crown Coliseum Saturday.
The title showdown with Charlotte’s Harding University High School, which downed Waynesville Tuscola 51-50 in the West Region final, will be played at 5 p.m. March 16 at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.
Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris led her Tigers to a state title in 1981, and Chapel Hill guard Tamia Eatmon said there’s room in the school’s trophy case for more hardware.
“We’ve just got to stay hungry,” Eatmon said. “We made it to the state championship. Now we’ve just got to play our game.”
The Tigers thrive when they’re scooting up the court for layups after their defense forces the other team to cough up the basketball, and the only time they’ve lost this season is when Northern Nash made Chapel Hill get away from that style, Norris said.
Chapel Hill hadn’t played its brand of basketball in the regional round until the third period against West Craven. And that came after Norris gave her team a little talking-to at halftime.
“They hadn’t been on the offensive boards, and they politely told me they had been, but our stats didn’t have us as having any offensive rebounds,” Norris said.
Chapel Hill had seven offensive rebounds in the first half.
Still, Norris wanted her team to be tougher.
“That was the big thing, is that we needed to get on the offensive boards and pick up our defensive intensity,” Norris said. “We also knew that they only played six or seven players, and they were really tired, and we were trying to push it up the court more.”
Chapel Hill threw a box-and-one defense at two-time Coastal Conference player of the year Jamie Cherry, who was coming off a 31-point scoring performance.
Cherry got 22 against Chapel Hill, and two more Eagles scored in double figures, including Kaylee Koerperich’s double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds).
But Chapel Hill picked up 21 points off Eagles turnovers, and that made all of the difference, West Craven coach David Fernandez said.
“We turned the ball over just a few too many times,” Fernandez said.
The Eagles were better than Chapel Hill on the glass (40-34) and shot it nearly as well as the Tigers (39-34.4 percent), but their 18 turnovers to Chapel Hill’s 11 were critical.
“We kind of gave it away, turning the ball over,” Cherry said.
Norris said the idea was to keep the ball out of Cherry’s hands and make her run around and get tired, knowing Fernandez doesn’t go very deep into his bench. Fatigue led to some wild passes by Cherry, Norris said.
“When we can play our style of basketball, we’re hard to beat,” Norris said.
The extra footage of the collegiate-sized court at Crown Coliseum made it tougher for the Tigers to get their proper angles on defense, Norris said.
Chapel Hill’s 17-point lead in the second half eroded to three with 1:44 left to play.
“Once they started pressing us, we had a lot of turnovers, and we panicked,” Chapel Hill center Catherine Romaine said. “They got a lot of easy baskets off of those turnovers.”
Romaine, who was named the most valuable player of the 3-A Eastern Regional, gave Chapel Hill its first lead on a bucket with 5:44 left in the first half. Her length in the paint was a lot for West Craven to deal with, along with those six 3-pointers from her teammates.
“To their credit, they knocked down some baskets,” Fernandez said.
Carolina 6 Conference player of the year Jamella Smith (13 points, 11 rebounds) hit half of Chapel Hill’s 3s and, along with teammate Raziyah Farrington (11 points), was named to the all-Eastern Regional team.
Norris said Chapel Hill guard Jessica Wall (14 points) was a difference maker against West Craven.
NCHSAA 3-A Eastern Regional Championship
Chapel Hill 59, West Craven 51
WEST CRAVEN — Jamie Cherry 5-16 2-9 22; Jasmine Raynor 1-6 1-2 4; Nishedra Brown 5-11 0-0 10; Kaylee Koerperich 5-9 3-5 13; Nyeesha Roundtree 1-6 0-4 2; Rendi Wetherington 0-0 0-0 0; J’Miaya Wright 0-0 0-0 0; Attalia Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals—FG 17-48 (35.4 percent), FT 14-21 (66.7 percent), 3-point FG 3-11 (27.3 percent)
CHAPEL HILL — Tamia Eatmon 2-3 1-2 5; Jessica Wall 4-12 4-5 14; Catherine Romaine 7-16 1-1 15; Jamella Smith 5-13 0-0 13; Autumn West 0-3 1-2 1; Laura Musalem 0-1 0-0 0; Arianne Jacobs 0-1 0-0 0; Katie Guthmiller 0-1 0-0 0; Mariah Jacobs 0-1 0-0 0; Raziyah Farrington 5-8 0-0 11; Jasmine Suitt 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals—FG 23-59 (39 percent), FT 7-10 (70 percent), 3-point FG 6-16 (37.5 percent).
West Craven 11 9 17 14—51
Chapel Hill 10 14 24 11—59
3-point FG—West Craven 3-11 (Cherry 2-9, Raynor 1-2), Chapel Hill 6-16 (Smith 3-7, Wall 2-7, Farrington 1-2). Rebounds—West Craven 40 (Koerperich 15), Chapel Hill 34 (Romaine 11). Blocked shots—West Craven 1 (Koerperich), Chapel Hill 3 (Romaine 2, Farrington). Assists—West Craven 8 (Cherry 3, Raynor 3), Chapel Hill 14 (Eatmon 6). Steals—West Craven 8 (Brown 3), Chapel Hill 9 (Romaine 3). Turnovers—West Craven 18 (Raynor 7), Chapel Hill 11 (Farrington 2, Wall 2, Romaine 2).
Records—West Craven 26-6, Chapel Hill 29-1