The inaugural Bojangles Carolina Invitational Carolina Division championship game had the makeup of a potentially entertaining, tightly-contested affair, as it pitted defending SCISA Class AAA champ Pinewood Prep against a Goose Creek squad coming off an appearance in the S.C. High School League Class AAAA title contest.
And while that occasionally held true, the Gators never trailed in the contest and
captured the tournament title with a 58-40 victory in the nightcap at Bishop England’s Father O’Brien Gymnasium.
It took a while for both teams to find their rhythm. Goose Creek missed its first five shots, but fortunately for the Gator faithful, the Panthers were also unsuccessful getting on the scoreboard.
Goose Creek (10-3) recovered to go up 14-9 after the first quarter and extended the advantage to 30-21 at halftime.
Pinewood Prep (8-4) was dealt a major blow early in the game when Jenifer Rhodes landed on her hip, causing her back to go into spasms. She did not return to the game.
“That kills our rotation,” Panthers coach Nancy Beatty said. “And we’re working toward it right now, trying to find that right combination. I thought we had a good chance with our game plan.”
While Coach Tim Baldwin admitted that Goose Creek benefited from Rhodes’ unfortunate injury, he attributed the quality performance to not only his starters, but also the effort of his role players.
“Obviously you’ve got the big guns with N’dea Bryant and Ashley Fields and those guys,” Baldwin said. “The other kids are starting to fill in and that’s what we need to make a run to the playoffs.”
Pinewood Prep missed its first 12 attempts from the field to open the third quarter, allowing the Gators to increase their lead to 43-21. It wasn’t until the 1:14 mark that Raygon Hendrix recorded the Panthers’ first basket of the quarter.
Brittani Doctor posted a game-high 14 points, while Fields added 13 and University of North Carolina signee
Bryant chipped in 12 for the Gators. The trio was named to the all-tournament team, and Bryant took home MVP honors.
Hendrix (13 points) and Maria Corella (10) were Pinewood Prep’s representatives in double figures. Corella joined Bri Boyd on the all-tournament team.
Bishop England 73, N. Myrtle Beach 62
Bishop England (11-0) remained undefeated on the season and captured the event’s Palmetto Division championship over North Myrtle Beach.
A 10-0 run early in the second quarter gave the Bishops a 12-point lead, but Marisa Patton’s 3-pointer as time expired pulled North Myrtle Beach (8-4) within one point, 34-33, heading into the locker room at halftime.
The second half was a different story. Bishop England stretched its advantage to a game-high 14 points with 1:25 left in the third quarter and never looked back.
“I told (the players), we’ve got to set the tone early,” Bishops coach Paul Runey said of the second-half start. “It’s always crucial, especially for us, to come out moving. And I thought we were a little slow, but I just think we were a little bit faster than North Myrtle Beach. We got a couple easy baskets, and I think that set the tone.”