RALEIGH — The Chatham Charter girls basketball team fell to Bishop McGuinness, 73-43, in the 1A state final on Saturday in Raleigh, putting an end to the Knights’ historic run in the NCHSAA tournament. A week after the team qualified for the first state championship game in program history, the Knights (26-6) couldn't handle the lengthy and athletic Villains (28-4) — who won their second straight 1a title and their 11th overall since 2006.
“We were all just excited to be here and be the ones to be making history,” senior guard Tamaya Walden said of playing in the state title game. “But it was just nerve-wracking because it’s a big step in a basketball career.”
Bishop McGuinness sophomore shooting guard Adelaide Jernigan proved unstoppable, recording 21 of her team’s 73 points on 48% shooting from the field.
She championed a Villains offense that put up more points than any opponent Chatham Charter faced this this season. The Knights’ previous season-high for points by an opponent was 70, scored by Falls Lake back in November.
Chatham Charter’s sole bright spot was junior forward Meah Brooks, who ended with 18 points and nine rebounds and was named the Most Outstanding Player for Chatham Charter in the title game. The junior’s aggression on the boards and high release point allowed her to compete against an oversized Villains team.
Chatham Charter head coach Jeff Patterson said that ultimately his team fought hard, but the Knights’ 18 turnovers hurt them.
“I thought, coming in, that the atmosphere and the lights of the bigger stage would affect our ball club and it did,” Patterson said.
How it happened:
Chatham Charter junior forward Meah Brooks drew first blood on a close-range jumper that was tightly-contested. Brooks continued to carry the Knights offense, scoring the team’s first six points of the game.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Jernigan heated up early. She scored the Villain’s first five points of the game.
The game was back-and-forth for the first quarter, with Bishop McGuinness taking a 16-12 lead after the first quarter. However, the Villains were immediately the most dominant team on defense, recording four steals to the Knights’ one in the opening quarter. Bishop McGuinness’ face-guarding kept Walden silent for the game’s early minutes.
“They dedicated what they wanted to do with us on the offensive end,” Patterson said. “We didn’t dictate to them what we wanted to do. We lost to a great team.”
At the beginning of the second quarter, senior center Katie Deal got inside the paint on back-to-back possessions to score for the Villains. At six feet, the Knights opted to put Brooks on her to limit her production.
Brooks continued to lead Chatham Charter’s offensive production, en route to 12 first-half points. However, she struggled from the line, going 0-3 in the first half.
Soon, the Villains defense began clicking on all cylinders. Bishop McGuinness outscored Chatham Charter 21-10 in the second quarter behind a 50 percent clip from behind the arc and from the field overall.
At halftime, the Knights faced a 16-point deficit.
Chatham Charter did little to dig out of the hole in the third quarter. A relentless 3-2 zone from Bishop McGuinness and overall fatigue — the Knights began to jog back as the Villains continued to push the pace in transition — allowed the Villains to extend their lead to 58-29.
By the fourth quarter, the Villains had a roster consisting of entirely bench players on the floor. This squad was later subbed out by a group of Bishop McGuinness seniors.