Bishop England girls basketball team determined to leave its own mark
The Bishop England girls basketball team might not be as dominant as last year’s team that won the Class AA state championship. But the Bishops are just as determined.
“Every year, it’s a different team,” coach Paul Runey said. “Each team has its own identity. Last year’s team was special and will be remembered. This team wants to be remembered, too.”
Last year, the Bishops went 28-0 and beat Columbia, 43-41, in the title game. It was really the only close encounter for the Bishops, whose average margin of victory was 38 points entering the showdown. It was the team’s first state title and the school’s 101st.
This season, the Bishops are mere mortals with a 21-3 record heading into Tuesday’s Lower State semifinal game against Burke (17-8). Bishop England is ranked No. 1 in the state in the latest coaches’ poll and already has two wins against the Bulldogs. They beat Burke, 56-31, on Jan. 4 and 70-39 on Jan. 29.
How does Runey keep his team from taking Burke for granted?
“That’s a good question,” he said. “But we handled Battery Creek twice in the regular season and struggled against them in the first half of the playoff game. We have to be ready to play. Burke is very athletic.”
Two key players graduated from last year’s team, including sharpshooter Amber Campbell and point guard Katelyn Grisillo, the Region 6-AA player of the year and an all-state pick.
“We have more of an inside game this season,” Runey said. “We work the ball inside to take advantage of Mary Harriet Moore’s ability.”
The 6-1 junior has been a force with 14.7 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game. Another junior, Michele Boykin, is back after missing nine games with a broken nose. She is averaging 15.7 points, 3.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game.
Burke is coming off a 56-53 win over Ridgeland-Hardeeville as Bria Brown scored 28 points and Latasha Jones 12 points.
Bishop England and Burke are two of the four local High School League teams still alive as the Lower and Upper State semifinals begin.
The West Ashley girls host Aiken at 7 p.m. today in a Class AAAA game, while the Goose Creek boys host Ridge View in a 7 p.m. game on Tuesday.Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil.