One of the most impressive things that happened in last weekend’s high school state 3A championship basketball game was something that didn’t happen at all.
With Hickory ripping off a 15-0 run in the second half, whittling down what had been a 26-point Chapel Hill lead, Chapel Hill fans were getting a bit nervous.
Heck, they were getting frantic. You could feel the panic oozing down the aisles of the Smith Center toward the court. Some were yelling “time-out … call a time-out” every time the Tigers turned over another possession or the tornadoes hit another basket.
But that panic never seemed to touch the Tigers themselves.
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Pacing along the sideline, veteran coach Sherry Norris looked a bit perturbed, but never once did she snarl at her players (à la a certain men’s coach who reacted badly when his players couldn’t hold a lead in the ACC finals Sunday.)
“My husband Ronnie, the coach’s coach, always tells me that if I stay calm, the players will sense that and stay calm, too,” Norris said.
And she never called that time-out in an attempt to stymie Hickory’s surge.
Hickory got as close as 48-43 as Yazman Hannah nailed a 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 42 seconds left to play, sending the Tornado fans into a frenzy. But Norris had faith the Tornadoes would expend themselves and her players would weather the storm.
Catherine Romaine hit a hook shot from the lane that started a 12-4 run over the next 2 mintes, 29 seconds and iced the win.
And Norris, who would have been second-guessed by every fan there had it turned out differently, looked every bit like the Hall of Fame coach she is.
Not cool: Speaking of delirium, would someone at UNC clue in the yellow jacketed security team that it's okay for fans to stand up and cheer? Don't glare at them every time they jump up and down. Not everyone acts as blasé as the typical Carolina mid-court fan.
Sportsmanship Award: One feature that might have been easy to miss during all PA announcements in between games Saturday at the Smith Center was the NCHSAA Sportsmanship Award given to Chapel Hill junior Jessica Wall. “She’s our sixth man off the bench, and she’s been very valuable to us this season.” Norris said, “I was really glad to see her get the award.”
The 5-6 Wall scored just 2 points in 12 minutes of play Saturday, but made 3 rounds, 2 assists and a steal.
A young team: It’s worth noting that Chapel Hill should return three starters from this championship team: two juniors – finals MVP Raziyah Farrington and guard Tamia Eatmon – and sophomore post player Autumn West.
And, playing on a team that won by an average margin of 37 points, juniors Helen Gaynes, Taylor Headen and Wall were all part of the regular rotation for Chapel Hill, as was sophomore Mariah Jacobs.