RALEIGH — Chapel Hill assistant girls basketball coach John French called out to his team time and again on Wednesday night, “Attack! Attack!”
That order was obeyed time and again by the undefeated and top-ranked Tigers in a 67-43 win against Cardinal Gibbons. The win gave CHHS sole possession of first place in
the Big Eight 3A Conference schedule.
“We’ve always been up-tempo,” said Chapel Hill sophomore Autumn West. “We don’t really slow things down except to get into control.”
The Tigers forced 11 steals on the Gibbons ball-handlers thanks in large part to mixing up a 1-2-2 full-court press with some halfcourt trapping. But when the Crusaders didn’t turn it over, they got open looks thanks to the aggressive defense.
Gibbons hit seven 3-pointers.
“Thank goodness they didn’t hit all of them,” said Tigers head coach Sherry Norris. “That’s the gamble you take sometimes.”
While coaches bemoan “trading 2s for 3s,” Chapel Hill prevailed easily as its points off turnovers set up a different exchange. The Tigers gladly took a number of breakaway layups and surrendered some 3-point looks.
“When we played Southern (Durham) the other night, they had 11 3-pointers and we had one, but we won 80-52,” Norris said. “Our defense just creates so many opportunities.”
West had a game-high 24 points (12 rebounds, five steals) and Raziyah Farrington added 18.
Center Catherine Romaine and Jamella Smith each had seven rebounds.
Gibbons was one of the few teams with enough athletes to play man-to-man against the Tigers, but even that had to change as Chapel Hill attacked the rim.
“We want people to play us man-to-man because we think we do better against that,” West said.
“We knew their defense leads to their offense. We spent time talking about going to meet the ball and trying to beat their pressure. Easier said than done,” coach Jessica Lowe said.
The two sides will meet again in the regular-season finale at Chapel Hill. The Big Eight Conference girls basketball regular-season champ will host the conference tournament finals.
Tigers survive ‘horrendous’ quarter
Friday at Pittsboro, Chapel Hill learned another lesson about the target on its back.
The top-ranked Tigers had beaten Northwood by 49 points earlier this season in Chapel Hill. That was even more incentive for the Chargers, coming into Friday ranked No.13 by the News & Observer, CHHS coach Sherry Norris noted.
“I told the team coming down here that there was no way this was going to be easy,” Norris said.
The No. 1 team in the N&O rankings, Chapel Hill missed 15 of 16 field goal tries in the second quarter, watching a 27-14 lead dwindle to 29-26 at the half. Romaine scored 8 of Chapel Hill’s first 12 points in the third quarter as the Tigers pulled away.
“That was a horrendous quarter – our worst of the season,” Norris said. “But we were able to vindicate ourselves in the second half.”
Catherine Romaine scored 8 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter to help undefeated Chapel Hill refocus after its worst first half of the year and the Tigers went on to take a 76-51 Big Eight victory at Northwood.
Jamella Smith added 17 points and Autumn West 16 as Chapel Hill (17-0, 8-0 Big Eight) tied the team record for consecutive wins to start the season, set by the 1981 that delivered Norris her first state championship.
Northwood (12-5, 3-4) lost for the first time in four games, despite 14 points from Jazanae Billings.
Chapel Hill’s 17th straight win ties a team record for consecutive wins to start a season, matching the 17-0 start of the 1981 CHHS girls basketball team that earned coach Sherry Norris her first state championship.