No. 1 Chapel Hill stops Lady Viking state run
Top-seeded Chapel Hill jumped out to a big early lead and rolled to the NCHSAA 3A state semifinals with a 64-37 win over No. 4 Union Pines Thursday night at the Crown Coliseum.
Following a 13-0 Lady Tiger run in the opening quarter and a 20-6 Chapel Hill advantage after eight minutes, the result wasn't in doubt the rest of the way - like nearly all of undefeated Chapel Hill's (30-0) wins this season.
Nonetheless, a few minutes following the last Lady Viking game of the season, two of the five Viking seniors and head coach John Lewkowicz were proud of their campaign and getting to the point of taking on an opponent the caliber of Chapel Hill.
"We knew obviously what we were up against, one of the best teams in the state, and I told our girls we really earned our way here," Lewkowicz said.
"For some, a lot, of our girls, this was the first time playing in a venue like this...It was a valuable experience, no ifs, ands or buts about it," he said.
The experience will carry over to this coming November for the Lady Vikings as a majority of their roster, including freshman point guard Nyona Shields who poured in 16 of her team-high 18 points in the second half, will return. The experience of the postseason run and a 24-5 overall mark which included the Cape Fear Valley Conference season championship will serve the graduating Lady Vikings as well.
"We won't take it any other way other than it's a positive we made it this far," said senior forward Tiffany Hicks.
"We made it here and worked hard to get here," said senior guard Lexie Coxe. "We just came up against a great team, but I'm proud of my teammates and how we played the whole way."
The Lady Vikings traded spurts with Chapel Hill in the second half, but it was after Chapel Hill ran out to a comfortable lead and took some of its defensive pressure off - defense which forced 14 Lady Viking turnovers and a number of harried shots in the opening half.
Chapel Hill led 4-2 in what initially was a slow-paced start to the game. A steal and breakaway lay-up by Autumn West, then five straight points - a three-pointer and a lay-up in transition - by Raziyah Farrington suddenly took the Lady Tigers to a double-digit lead less than four minutes into the game.
Eleven Lady Tigers saw action in the opening period and there was no drop in the tempo or intensity.
Rachel Breassaeale rebounded her own missed jumper and made a shorter jumper starting the second period for the Lady Vikings. Chapel Hill ran off the next seven points for a 27-8 lead. Chapel Hill then closed the half on a 10-0 run for a 39-12 margin.
"We came in with a main goal in mind, but with a team like Chapel Hill, it's sort of a pick your poison," Lewkowicz said. "We wanted to force (Chapel Hill) to take outside shots, but they shot it well."
Shields led a couple of Union Pines spurts of momentum in the second half. From a 44-14 score early in the third period, the Lady Vikings put together a 10-2 run with seven points by Shields in the rally.
Shields added nine more points in the fourth quarter, hitting three three-pointers during the second half.
For the Lady Tigers, Farrington scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the first half. Center Catherine Romaine had 14 points and West had 13 points and 12 boards.
Hicks finished with six points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Stephanie Johnson had nine rebounds.
Along with Hicks and Coxe, Joe Kelly, Anna Jackson and Courtney Evans are the five Lady Viking seniors.
Chapel Hill advances to play No. 3 West Craven in the East Region final/state semifinals at 12 p.m. Saturday in Fayetteville.