Chapel Hill girls saunter into regional semifinals
Chapel Hill will return to the state 3-A girls’ East Regional semifinals Thursday at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum with last year’s one-point semifinal loss a vivid memory.
On Friday, Coach Sherry Norris’ second-seeded girls beat No. 11 Southern Guilford 64-38 to wrap up a relatively easy run at home through the first three playoff rounds.
For a change, though, Chapel Hill’s Catherine “Cat” Romaine, a 6-2 center, had some size to deal with.
The Tigers (27-1) have faced tall girls in the playoffs but none of them as active and imposing as 6-4 Kelena Morris of Southern Guilford (14-14), who established her presence by blocking one of Romaine’s shots in the first period.
“She was a good player," Romaine said. "I just tried my best to keep her off the boards. I was just trying to be strong.”
Romaine led all scorers with 16 points, putting the ball on the floor a little bit to create some space and hunt the shots she wanted.
The Storm was adversely impacted by the pressure of a wall-to-wall crowd that arrived early to see the Webb-Chapel Hill boys’ game that followed the girls’ game, Southern Guilford coach William Whitaker said.
“They’ve never seen a crowd like this before,” Whitaker said. “Intimidated. Nervous. Scared. That’s the only way I can sum it up. I thought that I had prepared them for that in the last day or two, but (I) didn’t do a good job of preparing them. I don’t know what you can do to prepare when a team comes at you like that. I’ve told these girls from Day 1 when we first began that if you are a very aggressive team when you go in the door, half the battle is already done. Chapel Hill did that to us tonight.”
Morris, a freshman, scored 14 points, and the Storm played the Tigers tougher in the second half. But by then it was too late, Whitaker said.
“From the very beginning, intimidation killed us,” Whitaker said.
Chapel Hill is well-coached and good, but Whitaker said the Tigers can be caged.
“If a team has players that can withstand pressure, (Chapel Hill) can be beat,” Whitaker said.
“I think he’s got a point,” Norris said, recalling her team’s only loss of the season. “That’s what Northern Nash did against us. They played really physical, hard defense on the inside. But my girls aren’t backing down at this point. We’re going to play hard. Anyone who beats us is going to have to bring their best game, and I don’t know if they can do that.
“I think it was good for Cat to see that type of size, to get that type of experience, because we don’t have it in practice,” Norris added. “People keep talking about it, but every day in our practice we play one of the best teams in the state, because we’re so deep. And that’s the way you have to look at it. We get that type of competition every day in practice.
Chapel Hill 64, Southern Guilford 38
SOUTHERN GUILFORD— Aeriel Ellis 7, Brianna Hargett 1, Hailey Chandler 10, Kelena Morris14, Khayla Miller 6.
CHAPEL HILL— Tamia Eatmon 10, Laura Musalem 6, Arianne Jacobs 1, Autumn West 1, Jessica Wall 4, Raziyah Farrington 14, Catherine Romaine 16, Jamella Smith 8, K’la Noel 1.
Southern Guilford 2 7 15 14—38
Chapel Hill 18 13 16 17—64
Records— Southern Guilford 15-14; Chapel Hill 28-1.