03/05/13 — 3A East Regional: Teams prefer to run

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3A East Regional: Teams prefer to run

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 5, 2013 1:46 PM

Lace up your shoes.

The 2013 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern girls' basketball regional is expected to resemble a track meet when it tips off Thursday at the Crown Center in Fayetteville.

The four participants prefer to play an up-tempo pace that's predicated off of their defensive pressure. The anticipated back-and-forth affairs are sure to create a few kinks in your neck before you leave the arena.

Chapel Hill (27-1 overall) opens the regional against Northern Guilford (29-1) at 7 p.m. First-time qualifier Eastern Wayne (28-1) faces West Craven (25-5) in the nightcap at 8:30. The regional final is Saturday at 4 p.m.

Admission is $9.

"Although we're a number one seed, I still see us as the underdogs, but we're excited to be here," Eastern Wayne head coach Tyrone Wagner said. "We're so young and this is our first time being here. I know a lot of teams feel that we haven't been tested, but we have.

"I think we deserve to be here."

The Warriors have prevailed in 16 straight outings since a three-point loss at West Craven in late December. Five-foot-1 sophomore guard Tianna Christopher leads a balanced offense with 10.9 points a game. Junior Elondia Grant and sophomore Jasmine Covington score 9 and 8.1 points per game, respectively.

Raju'ana Boyette is the team's top rebounder.

Coastal Conference co-champion West Craven will counter with two-time Coastal player-of-the-year Jamie Cherry and four-time state track champion Nishedra Brown. Cherry, a 5-6 junior guard, is the Eagles' top scorer at 25.6 points a game and pulls down 5.7 rebounds.

Brown, who missed the first meeting with the Warriors, knocks down 11 points a game. Junior Kaylee Koeperich is the Eagles' leading rebounder with 6.6 boards.

"Our whole focus right now is on Eastern Wayne," third-year West Craven head coach David Fernandez said. "A second meeting in the fourth round of the state playoffs won't be easy. It will be a good game. I don't know why it would be any less."

West Craven has won the last three meetings against Eastern Wayne.

Chapel Hill claimed a second-round playoff victory over Northern Guilford last season.

The Tigers anticipate a test from the Nighthawks and Campbell signee Amanda Coffer.

"It's an extremely strong regional and I know Northern's conference was extremely competitive," Norris said. "I think what we have to do is stick with what we do well. Our strength all year has been our depth because we can go 10, 11, 12 deep on the bench.

"We're able to push it up the court, run and force the tempo with our pressure defense. When we take kids out and put kids in, we don't lose anything."

Junior wing Jamella Smith leads the Tigers with 11.8 points a game. Sophomore Raziyah Farrington and junior point guard Catherine Romaine contribute 10.3 and 10 points an outing. Romaine averages seven rebounds a game.

Smith and Tamia Eatmon combine for seven assists a game.

Northern, a first-time regional participant, has just nine players on its roster. The 6-1 Coffer leads the state in blocked shots per game (6.5) and set a single-game record for blocked shots (14) earlier this season. She also surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in late February.

"Amanda plays every position and does them all well," Nighthawks coach Kim Furlough said. "She can step out and shoot the three, she can post up, she can rebound. She does it all (and) is very unselfish."

Surprisingly, junior forward Aliyah Grinage is Northern's leading scorer with 14.7 points a game. Senior co-captain Gabby Boyd collects 10.3 points, while sophomore point guard Sydney Wilson delivers 8.6 points per contest.

Coffer and Grinage are the Nighthawks' top glass cleaners with 8.5 and 6.5 rebounds per game, respectively. Wilson and Coffer combine for 6.5 assists each outing.

"Our team is very unselfish and they don't care who is open, they'll get the ball to them," Furlough said. "It's a blessing. There are four very good teams here. We're coming out of our comfort zone after playing at home the whole state tournament.

"We've got to bring our 'A' game."