Defending state champion Chapel Hill earned its fourth straight trip to the Eastern Regionals Tuesday night by blasting Corinth Holders 80-48 in the third round of the NCHSAA 3A girls basketball tournament.
The Tigers (22-2) used defensive pressure to take the Pirates out of the game and also made 11 3-pointers, six by Jessica Wall (18 points) to book an appearance in Friday’s quarterfinals.
For Corinth Holders (19-7), this season marked the first time the five-year-old school won a playoff game, topping Rocky Mount and West Carteret in the first two rounds.
“It was a good year. I’m very proud of what the girls accomplished, it was an historic year for us,” said Brandy Smith, who has coached the team since the school opened. “Jajah Clark (22 points), our senior point guard was a spark on both ends of the court for us. And Holly Price really came through this year, played aggressive all the time. Those two seniors have been good leaders.”
But they could not stay with the Tigers, who started three seniors who are 101-7 as four-year varsity players – Wall, Tamia Eatmon (10 points) and Reziya Farrington (10). Junior Autumn West scored 16.
While Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris knew she had strong perimeter players back, she also was pleased to get three post players transfer in – Essi Raeisaenen, from Finland, and sisters freshman Alliyah Chaplin (nine points) and sophomore TiMia Chaplin.
“We lost height off last year’s team, but when I saw the new big girls, I thought we would be solid,” Norris said. “Mostly, the new girls needed experience because we play fast, and the speed of the varsity game is different.”
Wall hit three 3s in the first quarter. The Tigers led 21-9 after the first period and 45-21 at halftime.
“They probably haven’t faced pressure like we were able to show them,” Norris said. “(Clark) scored a lot of points, but they were looking tired in the second half.”
Khadijah Neal added 12 for the Pirates.
“Chapel Hill is a very good team,” Smith said. “They’re quick and move the ball well. Their transition game is so good, but disciplined. They’ve got really good guards who can handle the ball and shoot well.”