“The girls did an awesome job this year,” said CHHS coach Scott Long. “We had our chances to win it but things did not go our way at the end.”
Both teams entered the final four on a high note, as most teams do that reach this level in the state tournament. Chapel Hill (27-3) entered the contest on a 15 game winning streak which propelled them to a MaxPreps.com No. 4 ranking in all of 3A. St. Pius (28-3) won 18 straight games heading into Saturday night and was ranked 3rd overall in the classification.
The Lady Panthers came out hot at the start of the game, taking a 22-12 lead after the first quarter.
“The press was working well and we rotated well in the first quarter,” Long said. “We let our defense set up our offense and we were doing a lot of great things.”
Several members of the Lady Panther team got into foul trouble early in the second quarter and the momentum came to a sudden halt for Chapel Hill. St. Pius outscored the Lady Panthers 8-2 over the eight minutes.
Despite the poor second, the Lady Panthers still managed to hold a four point lead at halftime, 24-20. Chapel Hill and St. Pius played to a stalemate in the third quarter. Both teams put 13 points on the board.
In the fourth, the momentum swung to the Lady Golden Lions late. A few turnovers at inopportune moments and a 3-pointer put St. Pius up by four and Chapel Hill was forced to foul and stop the clock. The Lady Golden Lions wrapped up the game from the free throw line.
Offensively, the usual crowd of Lady Panther members led the team. Kaneisha Mixon led Chapel HIll with 14 points.
“She did a great job of being the floor general,” Long said. “She controlled the tempo of the game and used her defense to set up her offense. She did the little things that I asked her to do.”
Earnicia Washington finished with a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“She controlled the glass and did the grunt work at the bottom,” Long said.
Jazmine Lawrence added nine points for the Lady Panthers. Erica Jones and Alex Weems netted seven points each.
Chapel HIll was led on the sideline by Ashley Chestnut, a senior who was injured shortly before the region tourney and could not play in the state tournament. Long called her a leader on the sidelines and in practice.
“This group of young girls really matured well,” Long said. “They are women of character and class. I am proud of all of them. It was an awesome season. “They can hold their heads up high knowing they represented their school and their county very well.”