Sunday, March 2, 2014
Bishop England emerged from its fourth-quarter timeout poised and composed.
While the Florence Civic Center crowd erupted around them, the Lady Bishops kept their emotions measured. Dillon had opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to cut the Bishops' lead to 10 with five minutes to play. It was the tightest the game had been since the start of the second quarter.
“At that point, it was ours to lose or ours to win,” Bishop England head coach Paul Runey said. “We told the girls, 'this is your moment.' Sometimes you play not to lose. We were playing to win.”
The Lady Bishops scored the next nine points of the game on way to a 68-53 win over undefeated Dillon Saturday in the Class 2A girls Lower State championship game. Bishop England earns its third Lower State title and advances to face Andrew Jackson in the state championship game March 8 at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
Michele Boykin scored a game-high 30 points with 13 rebounds, while Mary Harriet Moore added another 20 points and 12 rebounds for Bishop England.
The Lady Bishops trailed by a point with less than three minutes to play in the first quarter before Boykin scored six straight to spark a 16-0 run that lasted two minutes into the second quarter. Bishop England allowed Dillon just two field goals in the second quarter, while Boykin and Moore both turned in eight points to help open an 18-point halftime lead.
“At the beginning of the game, we played a little nervous because we didn't know what to expect from Dillon,” Boykin said. “Once we were able to settle into the environment, we were able to build some momentum and turn the game around.”
Yolanda Campbell carried Dillon out of the break with 10 points in the third quarter but was outmatched by Boykin who poured in 13 to help preserve the Lady Bishops' 18-point advantage.
Campbell finished with a team-high 17 points but was shutout in the fourth quarter. Tyshanna Lester added 14 and Khalele Manning 13 for Dillon. Boykin and Moore both shot 50 percent from the field. Eran Artigues added nine points, six rebounds and five assists. The Lady Bishops outrebounded Dillon 44-32.
“They just felt confident. I could see it in their smiles. I could see it in their body language,” Runey said. “(Dillon) put a little scare in there late in the game. But we felt we could counter anything they could throw at us.”
Andrew Jackson enters the state title game 23-3 overall, winning its four playoff games by an average of 10 points per game. Bishop England is averaging a 43-point margin of victory through its four playoff games.
“Anytime you get back to the big dance you're excited,” Runey said. "That's what you want as a coach but you're more excited for (the players). They'll take this with them for the rest of their lives.”