Chapel Hill girls advance to regional final
A tough basket down low by Autumn West beat the buzzer in the second overtime to give Chapel Hill a 67-65, skin-of-its-teeth escape in the state 3-A Eastern Regional semifinals at Crown Coliseum on Thursday night.
Chapel Hill lost in the same state quarterfinal round a year ago by a point when a shot by the Tigers rolled around the rim and off against Burlington Williams.
This time, the game tied 65-65 with 2.9 seconds left in the second extra session, Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris huddled with her team and drew up something that wound up having the Xs and Os in all the right places.
“Autumn has been open several times this year on that play,” Norris said. “We’re looking for Cat (Romaine) to screen for Raziyah (Farrington) and (for) Raziyah to be open. But what they start doing is they start cheating and worrying about that, and Autumn is able to break and seal, and we got the ball to her. She’s just a freshman. That’s a big shot for a freshman to make.”
West played all night like she’d been there before, leading Chapel Hill with 19 points and 14 rebounds. She didn’t wilt under the bright lights in Crown Coliseum, coolly knocking down two free throws to tie the game with 1:02 left in the first overtime to help Chapel Hill hang around to finish the deal.
This was a nip-and-tuck game from start to finish. Chapel Hill (28-1) and Northern Guilford (28-2) each had their runs — more like little bursts out of starting blocks, neither team able to sprint very far.
Northern Guilford’s Amanda Coffer entered the game averaging more blocked shots than any girl in the state, and she swatted two Chapel Hill attempts in the first period, sending one down the court to get the Nighthawks in transition. Northern Guilford didn’t score on that possession, but it gave the Tigers something to think about.
Coffer’s aggression cost her a second foul with about two minutes left in the first period. That sent her to the bench, offering the Tigers more room to work in the paint.
Chapel Hill was bitten by the foul bug, too, when Laura Musalem went to the bench with her third with 31.5 seconds left in the first quarter. That was a big deal for Chapel Hill, Norris said.
“Laura is our Energizer Bunny on defense and just does so many things well,” Norris said.
Romaine picked up two fouls in the first half, causing Norris to lean hard on her bench.
“I thought my reserves came in off the bench and did a good job giving us some minutes,” Norris said.
“Autumn came in, and she picked up where Laura left off,” Chapel Hill’s Jamella Smith said.
Chapel Hill got double-figure scoring from Smith (13 points) and Farrington (15), while Romaine’s 10 points and 13 rebounds complemented West’s double-double.
Norris said her Tigers didn’t lose composure when Northern Guilford had them down in the first quarter.
“We didn’t play scared,” Smith said. “We had heart and we never gave up, no matter how hard it got.”
Chapel Hill’s playoff run continues in Crown Coliseum at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the state’s version of the Final Four. Saturday’s winner will advance to the March 16 state championship game.
Northern Guilford left a bunch of points at the foul line, going 10 of 23 from the charity stripe.
“Free throws are what killed us,” Northern Guilford’s Sydney Wilson said.
“This was a tough one,” Northern Guilford coach Kim Furlough said. “Double overtime. We played our hearts out. I felt like we gave them everything they could handle and more.”
In the second half, Coffer returned to patrol the paint, getting two blocks early in the third period to reestablish her presence.
In the first half, Coffer, who showed range from behind the arc, stuffed one of West’s jumpers. She finished the game with four blocks but ended up fouling out in overtime.
Had there been a third overtime, tired Tiger Tamia Eatmon said she was game.
“The grind doesn’t stop if you want to win,” Eatmon said.
NCHSAA 3-A East Region Semifinal
Chapel Hill 67, N. Guilford 65, 2 OT
CHAPEL HILL — Laura Musalem 0-1, 0-0 0; Arianne Jacobs 0-2, 0-0 0; Raziyah Farrington 6-12, 2-4 15; Catherine Romaine 3-9, 4-4 10; Jamella Smith 4-16, 5-6 13; Tamia Eatmon 0-6, 2-2 2; Katie Guthmiller 0-0, 0-0 0; K’la Noel 0-0, 0-0 0; Jessica Wall 4-9, 0-0 8; Olivia Clayton 0-0, 0-0 0; Jasmine Suitt 0-1, 0-2 0; Autumn West 7-14, 5-6 19. Totals—FG 24-70 (34.3 percent), FT 18-24 (75 percent).
NORTHERN GUILFORD — Sydney Wilson 4-10, 0-2 2; Gabby Boyd 10-20, 2-4 22; Allyah Grinage 5-14, 3-8 13; Nya Moore 4-7, 3-6 11; Amanda Coffer 2-7 2-2 8; Meg Matthews 1-2, 0-1 7; Kasey Johnson 0-0, 0-0 0; Lasha Seaton 0-0, 0-0 0. Totals—FG 26-60 (43.3 percent), FT 10-23 (43.5 percent).
Chapel Hill 12 14 16 13 6 6—67
N. Guilford 16 12 14 13 6 4—65
3-point FG—Chapel Hill 1-13, 7.7 percent (Farrington 1-3, Smith 0-7, Wall 0-2, Eatmon 0-1), N. Guilford 3-10, 30 percent (Coffer 2-6, Wilson 1-3, Boyd 0-1). Rebounds—Chapel Hill 51 (West 14, Romaine 13), N. Guilford 40 (Boyd 9, Grinage 9). Blocked shots—Chapel Hill 6 (Romaine 4, West, Smith), N. Guilford 5 (Coffer 4, Wilson). Assists—Chapel Hill 10 (Eatmon 3), N. Guilford 17 (Coffer 5, Wilson 5, Boyd 5). Steals—Chapel Hill 12 (Smith 5), N. Guilford 8 (Wilson 2, Grinage 2, Moore 2). Turnovers—Chapel Hill 19 (Farrington 5), N. Guilford 21 (Coffer 6). Fouled out—Northern Guilford, Coffer.
Records—Chapel Hill 28-1, Northern Guilford 28-2.