FAYETTEVILLE — Chapel Hill’s girls looked very comfortable, as well they should have, in their 64-37 3A Eastern Regional semifinal win over Union Pines on Thursday night at Crown Coliseum.
The undefeated Tigers (30-0) were playing on the same floor where they won the Eastern Regional last season before losing the state title game.
The next game will feature another familiar, but tougher, opponent. Saturday at noon, Chapel Hill will play West Craven and its super-quick, high-scoring guard Jamie Cherry for the regional championship. The Tigers defeated West Craven in this same game a year ago and also beat the Eagles in a holiday tournament this season.
The Tigers put the game away early. Junior guard Raziyah Farrington provided the early spark, hitting two 3-pointers, scoring on fast-break layups and free throws as she scored 14 first-half points and her team led 39-12 after two periods.
“We were late leaving and running behind, and I didn’t think we were ready before the game,” Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris said. “But they came out and played great defensively, shot the ball extremely well the first half, 100 percent from 3-point and 100 percent from the free throw line. I looked at the score and it was 17-2, and I asked, ‘Is that really the score?’ I was surprised we were up that many points.
“Raziyah had a great first half. But that’s how we are. It’s never the same person. If someone is off, someone else steps up. Our balance is one of our strengths.”
Union Pines (24-5) outscored Chapel Hill 12-9 in the third quarter, but by then it was too little, too late.
Farrington ended the game with 16 points, and senior center Catherine Romaine scored 14. Sophomore Autumn West also had a big game with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“We knew we were obviously up against maybe the best team in the state,” Vikings coach John Lewkowicz said. “But I told our team we earned our way here. This experience is so valuable for us, no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Freshman guard Nyona Shields hit three 3-pointers and led Union Pines with 18 points.
“Union Pines had a lot of players and if this is your first time here, there’s a lot of nerves,” Norris said. “They’re about where we were two or three years ago. You learn how to handle the situation, and it makes a big difference.”