BIG EIGHT GIRLS: Undefeated Chapel Hill wins title
Undefeated Chapel Hill doesn’t sweat out games often.
However, the No. 1 seed Tigers were challenged in the Big Eight 3-A Conference girls’ tournament championship game against No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons here Friday night.
The Tigers trailed by five points at the end of the third quarter before pulling out a 48-38 victory on their home floor.
“I think it’s great (playing a closely contested game) going into the state playoffs,” Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris said. “We know we can handle the pressure in that situation.”
The undefeated Tigers, 26-0, had only been pushed to overtime once this season, a five-point victory over West Forsyth in December.
The Tigers, who had never completed an undefeated regular season before this year, could not have asked for a better start. Tamia Eatmon found Jamella Smith open in the corner for a three-pointer for the game’s first points. On the next play, the Tigers applied full-court pressure, forcing a turnover that lead to Raziyah Farrington’s layup and a 5-0 lead.
However, Cardinal Gibbons came charging back. Morgan Reid scored on a layup and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions in the first quarter to pull the Crusaders to within one.
Smith led the Tigers in the second quarter with five points as Chapel Hill took a 21-18 lead into the locker room.
The Crusaders flipped a switch in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Gibbons’ Olivia Smith came out of the halftime break on fire, scoring her team’s first seven points as the Crusaders tied the game at 25-25. Morgan Reid then hit a free throw and three-pointer to give the Crusaders a four-point lead.
Catherine Romaine scored six of Chapel Hill’s eight third-quarter points to keep the Tigers in the game as they trailed by five entering the final quarter.
Romaine finished the game with 10 points to put her at 1,000 for her career.
Farrington and Jamella Smith led Chapel Hill’s fourth quarter comeback with eight points each. The Chapel Hill defense held the Crusaders to only four points in the final period.
NOTES — With the win, Chapel Hill is the likely No. 1 seed for the NCHSAA 3-A East Regional playoffs which begin Monday night, giving the Tigers the homecourt edge in every game dependent on seeding. ... Chapel Hill finished 2nd in the state 3-A tournament a year ago. ... Playoff seedings will be announced by the NCHSAA sometime today. ... Chapel Hill defeated 21-6 Gibbons all three times the teams played this season, winning 46-28 on Feb. 17 at home and 67-43 in Raleigh on Jan. 22.
CHAPEL HILL 48, GIBBONS 38
Big Eight Tournament Championship
Cardinal Gibbons 10 8 16 4 — 38
Chapel Hill 12 9 8 19 — 48
CARDINAL GIBBONS — Olivia Smith 7, Haley Glaser 2, Stephanie Girard 7, Madison Beuris 6, Morgan Reid 16.
CHAPEL HILL — Tamia Eatmon 3 (2 blocks, 3 assists, 3 steals), Autumn West 2 (3 steals), Jessica Wall 3, Raziyah Farrington 12, Catherine Romaine 10 (6 rebounds, 2 blocks), Jamella Smith 18 (6 rebounds, 3 assists).
Records — Cardinal Gibbons 21-6, Chapel Hill 26-0.