Bishop England’s reign as Class AA champion ends

BY PHILIP M. BOWMAN

pbowman@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — With her team down by four points, Bishop England standout Michele Boykin sat on the end of the bench with an icepack on the back of her neck. She pleaded her case, but coach Paul Runey would not put her back in action in Saturday’s Class AA state championship game. After some spectacular moments this season, Boykin’s role was reduced to spectator for the final two minutes and 11 seconds.

She watched as Keenan ended Bishop England’s reign as Class AA state champion with a 46-41 victory in front of about 7,000 fans at the Colonial Life Arena.

“I just couldn’t put her back in,” Bishop England coach Paul Runey said. “She wanted to go back in. But I was not going to chance it after what she went through. We were going to do it or not without her.”

Boykin, who missed nine games because of a broken nose, led the Bishops with 15 points. But the Bishops seemed out of step even with her in the lineup. They hit only 29 percent from the field, only 67 percent from the charity stripe and turned the ball over 20 times. The Bishops feasted on fundamentals all year but struggled when Keenan turned up the heat.

The Bishops led 22-15 at halftime, but Keenan coach Reggie Mclain made an adjustment that doomed the Bishops.

The Raiders came out in a half-court man-to-man defense that frustrated the Bishops.

“We played at their pace in the first half,” Mclain said. “In the second half, we decided to play at our pace.”

Keira Robinson, the Class AA player of the year, went 0 for 8 from the field in the first half, but recovered to score a game-high 17 points. She hit only 2 of 15 from the field but connected on 12 of 14 from the foul line. The Vikings outscored the Bishops 22-12 from the line.

“I never could imagine us winning if someone would have told me she would go 0 for 8 in the first half,” Mclain said. “But she found a way to win.”

The Bishops led 30-29 after three periods, but scored only one field goal in the final eight minutes: a basket by Boykin with 6:36 to go in the game.

Mary Harriet Moore, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, hit a pair of free throws with 5:59 left to give the Bishops a 34-31 lead. But the Bishops went 3:48 without a point as Keenan grabbed a 40-34 lead. Daisha Eddy hit 5 of 6 free throws to rally her team. Eddy, who was ineligible for most of the season, finished with 14 points, hitting 7 of 11 from the line.

The Bishops didn’t help themselves, turning the ball over on three straight possessions with the game on the line.

“I’m disappointed,” Runey said. “We could have played a lot better. Keenan’s pressure defense made us make some mistakes. We usually don’t make those mistakes, but we haven’t faced a defense like that. A basket here, one less mistake there, and it could have been a different game. But you have to give Keenan credit.”

Keenan finished with a 20-6 record. Bishop England finished with a 23-4 mark. It was only the fourth loss in the Bishops’ last 55 games.

Bishop England (41): James 2, Moore 10, Kiernan 2, Boykin 15, Artigues 8, Archambault 4.

Keenan (46): Reaves 10, Robinson 17, Rudder 4, Hill 3, Eddy 14, Robinson 2.

Bishop England 4 18 8 11—41

Keenan 7 8 14 17—46

Records: Keenan 20-6, Bishop England 23-4.