NCHSAA Basketball Championships:
Published: Mar 21, 2013 02:00 PM
Modified: Mar 21, 2013 06:04 PM
RALEIGH - Chapel Hill assistant basketball coach John French was standing in a hallway inside Reynolds Coliseum when a friend approached Saturday night. With Webb and Statesville just a few feet away, playing in the 3A boys’ state championship, French was watching the Tigers packing up for the ride back home after their apperance in the girls’ 3A final.
“You could easily be back here next year,” the man said to French.
“Could be,” French said.
The same thought had occured to Chapel Hill head coach Sherry Norris.
“That’s what I said to our girls on the sideline after the game,” Norris said later, noting the Tigers held their emotions in check as they watched Harding University’s team accept its post-game trophy. “The one thing I told them was ‘Remember this feeling.’ It’s exactly what I told them in Fayetteville last year.”
The Tigers had used their 2012 loss to Burlington Williams in the N.C. High School Athletics Association regionals as a goad to push them farther this year. This time, they had made all the way to the state championship game.
“They didn’t get here by accident,” Harding head coach Anthony Jones said. “They’re a great team. They gave us quite a game.”
It took not one but two double-doubles to help Harding University become the first girls’ basketball team from Mecklenburg County to win back-to-back NCHSAA championships.
Brianna Hamrick had a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds while Abrea Harris provided 11 points and a game-high 12 boards to lead Harding University to a 56-52 victory Saturday over Chapel Hill in the NCHSAA 3A state championship game.
Myicha Drakeford chipped in 11 points for Harding, which hit just 21 of 54 shots from the field (38.9 percent), but out-rebounded Chapel Hill 46-38.
Harris was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight year. Hamrick was named the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player.
“These girls have done something that no one else has ever, ever done,” Jones exulted. “Not 1A, 2A, 3A or 4A. None of them won back to back. Let’s enjoy this moment.”
Harding (24-4) had to fight off a second half rally from Chapel Hill (30-2), which came into the final game as the No. 1 team in North Carolina’s 3A media poll.
Chapel Hill trailed 17-8 after one quarter and 29-19 at halftime but was within 55-52 after two free throws by Autumn West with 1:22 to play, but the Tigers missed their next three tries from the floor. Ralisha Currance hit one of two free throws with 1:10 left to provide the game’s final point.
“I think we suffered from nerves in the first half,” Chapel Hill senor Laura Musalem said. “We were all excited about being here, and I don’t think we focused on what we should have.”
“We came back and outscored them (33-27) in the second half, but I think that first nine-point deficit was just too much for us to over come,” said Norris, who was back in the finals for the first time since her 1981 team won a 4A championship.
Chapel Hill’s top three scorers in the finals will be expected back next year. Chapel Hill 6-2 junior Catherine Romaine, who was voted the team’s Most Outstanding player in the championship game, finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Junior Jamella Smith also had 14 points, and sophomore Raziyah Farrington added 11.