DANIEL ISLAND — Bishop England is one step closer to playing for back-to-back Class AA state basketball titles after dispatching Region 6-AA rival Burke, 72-38, Tuesday evening at Father O’Brien Gymnasium in the third round of the playoffs.
A 31-point performance from Michelle Boykin paved the way for the top-seeded Bishops (22-3), who extended their winning streak to 15 games and defeated the visiting Bulldogs for the third time in as many tries this season.
In Saturday’s Lower State championship contest, Bishop England will face Kingstree, which recorded an emotional 57-44 win over Lake City on Tuesday, just 24 hours after the tragic death of its coach, Sonya Burgess, in a hit-and-run car accident. Tipoff at the Florence Civic Center is slated for 2 p.m.
A moment of silence was observed for Burgess prior to the start of Tuesday’s game on Daniel Island.
“I thought the girls played real well considering how I thought we played last Friday, when we made tons and tons of mistakes,” said Bishops coach Paul Runey. “We got off to the races early, and we made our shots. We kind of felt that if we got ahead of Burke, we could stay ahead.”
That’s exactly what happened, but not before senior guard Bria Brown set an early tone for the Bulldogs, draining a 3-pointer on the game’s first shot attempt just 13 seconds in.
It didn’t take long Runey’s squad long to respond, though. Bishop England carried the momentum from a late-first-quarter basket into the subsequent frame, scoring 12 straight points and building a 41-16 lead at halftime.
Burke missed all nine field goal attempts in its three-point second quarter.
“(We) came out strong, and then little things started happening,” Burke coach Jenifer Walton said. “Little turnovers. It didn’t seem like we could get back in the game. We were taking shots that we were just throwing the ball up. We did not stick to what we were supposed to do.”
The second half was not much better from Walton’s perspective. Burke missed its first seven shots of the third quarter, and although consecutive 3-pointers from Brown and a jumper from Chantel Brightmen-Haynes within a 45-second span early in the fourth quarter ignited the crowd, it was too little, too late.
Mary Harriett Moore added 14 points for the Bishops while Eran Artigues chipped in 11.
Bishop England senior forward Ellie James was reduced to a limited role after injuring an ankle in Friday’s 60-32 second-round triumph over Battery Creek. Runey praised April Newton’s performance in the absence of James, who is expected to be ready for Saturday’s contest.
Brown and Brightmen-Haynes led the Bulldogs with 18 and 10 points, respectively.
Fourth-seeded Burke, which closed its season at 17-9, advanced further in the Class AA playoffs this year than it did in Class A last season, when the squad was eliminated in the second round.
Burke (38): Bria Brown 18, Chantel Haynes 10, Jones 4, Kwot 4, Kelly 2
Bishop England (72): Michelle Boykin 31, Mary Harriett Moore 14, Eran Artigues 11, Newton 6, Lussier 4, Archambault 2, James 2, Taylor 2
Burke 13 3 8 14—38
Bishop England 21 20 17 14—72
Records: BE 22-3, Burke 17-9. Next: BE vs. Kingstree at 2 p.m. Saturday at Florence Civic Center in Class AA Lower State championship.