Bishop England’s highly successful girls basketball coach Paul Runey has not had to deliver many “end of the season talks” in recent years.
Runey’s program has won six state championships since 2012, including five of the last six seasons. But Runey had to deliver such a speech on Monday night after his team lost to Marion 59-47 in the Class AAA Lower State semi-finals.
The defending state champions end their 2019-20 season with a 19-8 record, while Marion, the state’s top-ranked team in Class AAA, advances to the Lower State finals on Saturday with a 28-1 record.
“Haven’t had to give that end of the season talk very often here in the last decade or so,” Runey said. “It’s always tough to lose once you get to this point, but hey, we lost to a better team tonight. I told people last year that Marion would be a force this year. They’re very good. We didn’t play our best tonight, but Marion had something to do with that.”
Keyla Britt’s 18 points paced Marion, with Kimmie Barnes adding 10 points. Guard Lily Woods scored 17 points to lead Bishop England, with Emma Albano and Jahia Williams adding 10 points each.
A key to Marion’s win came from beyond the arc where the Swamp Foxes connected on six 3-pointers compared to just one for Bishop England. Marion also outscored the Lady Bishops 15-6 at the foul line.
Marion used a 12-4 run in the second quarter to take a 28-20 halftime lead. The lead grew to 13 at 37-24 midway through the third quarter. Bishop England worked the margin into single digits with under two minutes remaining in the third but trailed 41-30 heading into the final period.
“We tried hard and it seemed like every time we made a little run, they would hit a big three and just keep us at bay,” Runey said. “We missed a lot of easy shots at the basket. Sometimes they don’t fall. But I am proud of their effort.”
Runey’s roster this season had a host of underclassmen and the coach says the potential for another run next season may be in the offing.
“The one thing I told them was remember how this hurts and come back and put the work in to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” the coach said.
Marion will play May River in the Lower State title game on Saturday at the Florence Civic Center.
In the Class AA Lower State playoffs, North Charleston’s girls advanced to the Lower State finals after a 34-32 win over Woodland.
North Charleston will play Latta for the AA Lower State title on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Military Magnet advanced to the Class A Lower State finals with a 63-54 overtime win over Lake View. Military Magnet is making their first-ever appearance in the Lower State finals and will play defending state champion Scott’s Branch on Friday at 4 p.m. Scott’s Branch defeated Baptist Hill in the other Lower State semifinal.
Bishop England (47): Emma Albano 10, Jaiha Williams 10, George 2, Lily Woods 17, Schar 4, Scott 4
Marion (59): Moody 8, Keyla Britt 18, Jimmie Barnes 10, Y. Howard 4, K. Davis 6, Lester 9, Rogers 4
Bishop England 11 9 10 17 - 47
Marion 11 17 13 18 - 59
Record: BE 19-8.