The game was a battle of two powerhouses, both of which came into the game on long winning streaks. Chapel Hill (29-2), ranked fourth in AAA according to MaxPreps.com, entered the game with 14 consecutive victories. The Lady Panthers finished undefeated at home for the first time in school history. Beach (25-4), ranked 5th in the state, entered Tuesday’s game with 17 straight victories.
“All that stuff looks good and sounds good, but you still have to play the game,” said CHHS coach Scott Long. “We stayed mentally strong the entire game and was able to get the lead and pull through.”
Chapel Hill fell down early, trailing 17-14 after the first quarter. The Lady Panthers were behind 31-24 at the half. Chapel Hill began to fight back in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 13-12.
The fourth quarter started off with a bang for the Lady Panthers and they were eventually able to take the lead. However, one by one, the Chapel Hill starters began to foul out of the game. After the departure of Erica Jones, Jazmine Lawrence and Alex Weems, Chapel Hill managed to keep the lead thanks to the other starters and the bench play of Lauren Owens, Rachel Golf, and Danielle Sutton.
Chapel Hill ended the game with a five point victory.
Jones led all scorers in the game with 16 points. She added three steals. Earnicia Washington nearly scored a double-double with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four steals.
“Erica got into foul trouble early but she stayed strong and kept in the game until the final five minutes,” Long said. “Earnicia had an all-around great night and showed senior leadership and poise She stepped up, played huge, cleared the glass, and kept the energy on the floor.”
Lawrence also nearly had a double-double, with nine points and eight rebounds. Kaniesha Mixon netted 13 points.
“Everybody stepped up,” Long said. “I am very proud of the team effort and the win.”
Chapel Hill will now prepare for their Final Four game which will be played at Armstrong State at 7 p.m. They will play St. Pius, which is ranked third overall in AAA with a 28-3 record. They defeated Buford High School in the Elite-8.