Tigers look to run past Nighthawks
The thing that makes the Chapel Hill girls’ basketball team so tough is that Tigers coach Sherry Norris can reach deep into her bench and get quantity without sacrificing quality.
“We have eight girls that all deserve to be starters, and only five of them can start,” Norris said.
Chapel Hill post player Catherine Romaine and wing Jamella Smith will start tonight at 7 p.m. against Northern Guilford in the Eastern Regional semifinals of the 3-A state playoffs at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.
“They’re the best players at those positions,” Norris said.
Norris will round out her starting lineup with a set rotation that she alternates each game, but the girls who don’t start won’t be on the bench long.
“Basically, going into the game, what we’re going to have to do is do what we do and do it well,” Norris said. “Play our pressure defense. Play a lot of people. Look to put the ball inside, and if Cat scores, good. If not, then our outside shooting, hopefully, will be hitting.”
Smith, the Carolina Conference player of the year averages 11.8 points per game.
Chapel Hill (27-1) is deep and young with five seniors on a 16-player roster that is built for another deep run in next year’s playoffs. Just two of those seniors, Arianne Jacobs and Laura Musalem, get major minutes during games.
“Laura Musalem makes our defense go,” Norris said. “She just plays really, really tough defense, and everyone else picks up her energy level, and they pick up their game when she’s on the floor. And offensively, we need Jamella to play well. She’s player of the year for the conference, so that right there tells you a whole lot.”
The Tigers like to run, getting buckets in transition after forcing turnovers with defensive pressure.
That’s not Northern Guilford, Norris said. The Nighthawks want to walk the ball up the court, Norris said in recalling a previous meeting with Northern Guilford.
“Last year, they played man-to-man against us the whole ballgame,” Norris said. “They handle the ball well. They’re a good passing team. They’re 29-1. They must do a lot of things well.”
Northern Guilford coach Kim Furlough said her team is better than a year ago, but the Nighthawks just aren’t very deep.
Furlough understands that the Tigers are going to come at her squad in waves, but she said the Nighthawks will be fine.
“We have low numbers,” Furlough said. “We’re in great shape. We’re just used to it. That shouldn’t phase us.”
Northern Guilford forward Aliyah Grinage is the team’s leading scorer with 14.8 points per game, and the Nighthawks have a shot blocker in 6-1 Amanda Coffer, who is averaging 6.6 per game.
Coffer, a senior, has averaged more blocked shots than any high school player in the state, according to MaxPreps.com. Only South Mecklenburg boys’ senior Malcom Mathews (6-9, 210) has a better average with seven blocks per game. Coffer has really good timing, Furlough said.