Bishop England head coach Paul Runey paused in the hallway for a moment as his team carried off the glistening state championship trophy into the locker room. It finally started to set in.

“Three in a row, huh,” the SCBCA Hall of Fame coach let out with a smile. “We made a little history. That sounds pretty nice.”

Bishop England captured its third consecutive Class AA state girls basketball championship with a 53-37 win over Keenan on Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.

The Bishops are just the third program in 57 years to win three straight state titles and only the second to ever win four in five years.

“It sets in more and more and you really begin to realize what these girls have accomplished the past few years,” Runey said. “These are high school girls who’ve worked their rear ends off. It’s just great to see the rewards go to a group that’s really earned it.”

Keenan (19-7) entered the game averaging 53 points per game in the postseason, shooting 46 percent from the field. The Raiders managed just 23 percent shooting Saturday as the Bishops’ pressure defense eliminated Keenan’s significant height advantage.

Down 7-0 early, Bishop England moved into its 2-2-1 press that triggered an 8-1 run over the next three minutes. The Bishops grabbed their first lead off a 3-pointer from JoJo Tompkins in the final seconds of the first quarter and never trailed again.

Keenan coughed up 13 turnovers in the first half while Bishop England’s shooters picked apart the Raiders’ 2-3 zone defense. Bishops junior Hannah Corbett entered averaging eight points per game but scored nine in the first half, netting three of the Bishops’ five 3-pointers.

“They just kept coming at us and hitting shots,” Keenan head coach Reggie McLain said. “They play great defense. They’re disciplined. They’re a lot quicker than we thought. All that combined to frustrate us, and they made us play a style we didn’t want to play.”

Bishop England allowed Keenan just one field goal through the first six minutes of the third quarter. Rhetta Moore bumped the Bishops’ lead into double-digits with a fall-away trey midway through the third quarter, and by the fourth the Bishops were clearing out their bench as the starters left the court one by one to a standing ovation.

Tompkins finished with a team-high 12 points and seven assists. Moore and Corbett both added nine, and Caroline McQueeney and Erin Rose both turned in seven. Nine of the 11 Bishops who took the floor scored at least a point.

“We’ve been playing together since sixth grade. We know how each person works, what they like, what shot, what pass, every little thing,” Tompkins said. “It’s so awesome to do this with all my friends. That’s why we win. It’s not just one go-to. We can shut down their all-star, but they can’t shut down all of us together.”

Keenan all-state senior Breia Jackson scored 16 points but needed 23 shots to get there. No other Raider scored more than seven. Despite giving up inches at every position, the Bishops blocked more shots and outrebounded Keenan, 44-41.

“The girls put on a little basketball clinic,” Runey said. “How many teams could do what these girls have done together? We may not have the big stars, but we have a group that really plays together and is dedicated to a common goal. They all sacrificed. They all paid their dues and they deserve to be carrying that trophy out of here again.”