RALEIGH — Coach Sherry Norris’ Chapel Hill girls team is thinking state 3A championship this year, but the Tigers picked up an impressive championship trophy with their 60-55 overtime win against West Forsyth Saturday afternoon in the finals of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational girls bracket at Broughton High.
The 11-0 Tigers, ranked No. 1 in The News & Observer, were 30-2 and state 3A runners-up last year, but had to survive a fourth quarter comeback by the Titans to get into overtime against a team featuring a pair of 6-foot-2 twin seniors, Jasmine and Jessica Jones, who have signed with Auburn.
The Tigers’ balance and experience was decisive.
“Let me just say we’re very happy about winning this game tonight; that was a very tough opponent,” Norris said. “It’s the largest team we’ve played this year and they just pounded and pounded the boards. We lost the lead in the fourth quarter, but turned it up a notch defensively and got some critical steals and were able to finish and hit some free throws.”
Chapel Hill led 39-31 after three quarters but Jessica Jones, who finished the game with 24 points and 16 rebounds, outscored Chapel Hill 12-2 to open the fourth quarter and put her team ahead 43-41.
Chapel Hill needed an outside jumper from Raziyah Farrington with four seconds left to tie the score at 47and force overtime.
Once in overtime, Autumn West hit a free throw for the Tigers and tournament MVP Jamella Smith got a pair of baskets for a 52-47 lead. Chapel Hill led the rest of the way.
Smith scored 19 for the Tigers, followed by Farrington (17 points). Center Catherine Romaine had 10 points and point guard Tamia Eatmon scored 8 points and had 6 steals.
“When Tamia went out with foul trouble, Jessica Wall came in and played well,” Norris said. “I think our balance is our strength. We complement each other and play well together. We kind of joke that we’re a team with nine guards and two post players.
“Defensively, we play well and any of them can score. We’ve got 11 players and we’re 11 deep. We can put them all out there and know they can play.”
Stevens shines: Cary’s Azura Stevens, a Duke recruit, scored 26 points, grabbed 28 rebounds and blocked 7 shots in a 52-45 victory against Greensboro Dudley. Stevens smashed the Holiday Invitational girls’ rebounding mark with 79 rebounds in three games. The Imps finished fifth.
Stevens leads the area with 32.1 points and 19.3 rebounds per game. The state record for rebounds per game is 20.3, by Henrietta Walls of Central Davidson in 1978-79.
Riverside tops Hillside: Hillside coach Ovester Grays said his team had talent, but had to develop chemistry. The Hornets didn’t on Saturday as they lost their third straight game in the Holiday Invitational girls’ tournament, 52-51 to Piedmont Athletic 4A rival Durham Riverside.
Caps fall: The Broughton girls lost to West Craven 64-57 in the third-place game. University of North Carolina recruit Jamie Cherry scored 26 points for the winners.