For years, a team wanting to win the Carolina-6 girls basketball championship had to travel Interstate-40. The road to the title always passed through Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill high schools.
This year is not likely to be any different.
“It’s always been a really big rivalry, and their girls have always been tough,” Chapel Hill senior Laura Musalem said. “They always bring out the best game in us. We’re really going to be excited to get out there and play.”
Chapel Hill’s girls team, ranked No. 4 in the Triangle by the News & Observer, plays Tuesday at No. 12 Cardinal Gibbons in Raleigh. The JV teams play at 6 p.m. and the varsities at 7:30 p.m.
“They are still our rivals,” Chapel Hill coach Sherri Norris said. “When you look at them, their student body is so much like ours, and traditionally, we’ve been one of the strongest programs in the state.”
Both Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill have won multiple Wachovia/Wells Fargo Cups, indicative of overall excellence in athletics. In girls’ basketball this week, Chapel Hill (16-1 overall, 3-0 Carolina-6) is ranked No. 4 among the state’s 3A programs by ncpreps.com, while Cardinal Gibbons (14-3, 4-0) is receiving votes in the same ncpreps poll.
Southern Vance, the team Chapel Hill beat in last year’s Carolina-6 Conference tournament final, is considered a contender for this year’s championship, even after the Tigers gave the Raiders a 65-46 thumping Thursday night.
But the Tigers will have a much clearer picture of where they stand in the conference after they play at Cardinal Gibbons on Tuesday night.
“Every team in the conference means a big game,” Chapel Hill junior Catherine Romaine said. “Every game is going to affect where we play in the state tournament. So we approach every conference game as a big game.”
Romaine and CHHS sophomore teammate Raziyah Farrington both scored 10 points in Thursday’s win. Junior Jamella Smith had game highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds as Chapel Hill scored slightly below its 65.5 points-a-game average.
Cardinal Gibbons, which has won 10 of its last 11 games, would like to hold the Tigers closer to what the Crusaders have been keeping opponents so far: 42.6 points a game.
“They’re not the sort of team that will just throw up shots,” Norris said. “They are willing to work some time off the clock to get the shot that they want. They know that we really like to fast break and run, and they would like to slow that down.”
Chapel Hill may want to pace itself anyway. Due to Friday’s winter storm, Chapel Hill’s game with Northern Vance was moved to Wednesday. That means the Tigers will play conference road games on three straight nights.
Chapel Hill meets Cardinal Gibbons on Tuesday, plays at Northern Vance on Wednesday and then at Orange on Thursday, one day earlier than usual because Orange has a major wrestling tournament Friday in its home gym.
“That’s a little bit of a burden, but I think we’re well prepared for it,” Romaine said.
“It’s going to be rough,” agreed Musalem, “But you just have to take it one game at a time, really. ... We’ll just have to go do what we do.”Boys BasketballChapel Hill 59,Southern Vance 27CHAPEL HILL
A familiar face re-appeared in Chapel Hill’s double-digit boys basketball win Thursday night. Treshawn Craig played for the Tiger varsity for the first time in a year, scoring a quick pair of layups to spark Chapel Hill’s closing 16-4 run over the game’s last 8 minutes.
Craig had been on hiatus until the start of this semester, which began in mid-January, so he could concentrate on academics.
“It’s more important to us to see him in a cap and gown with his diploma than it was to see him with a ball on our court,” CHHS head coach Tod Morgan said. “We set him some goals we wanted to see him achieve, and he’s done that, and now we’re happy to see him playing again.”
Craig scored eight points and was one of nine Tigers (13-4, 2-1 Carolina-6) to score in Chapel Hill’s 59-27 win against Southern Vance (Southern Vance 6-8, 1-2).
Anthony Van Hook had a banner night, with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. He would have had a serious chance for a triple-double had he played on a team with a shorter bench, but CHHS substituted early an often in the blowout.
With two home games this week, the CHHS boys have a slightly less onerous schedule than the girls. Morgan’s Tigers host Cardinal Gibbons on Tuesday, go to Northern Vance with the girls varsity on Wednesday, then host Orange on Thursday.
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