Bishop McGuinness overcame a slow start and rallied from eight points down to beat Hayesville High School 57-49 and advance to the ninth straight state championship game that will take place next Saturday in Chapel Hill.
Roughly sixteen hours after one of the most physical games of the season, the Lady Villains had to turn around and take on Hayesville, a team that wanted to play the style of basketball similar to Bishop. Tessa Johnston got the Lady Villains started with a soft little jumper from the left side to give Bishop a 2-1 advantage, but that came after Amanda Thompson stole two straight passes for Hayesville. Thompson and Megan McQuade combined for 39 of Hayesville’s points in their semifinal win over Cherokee last night, and they were the focal point of the Yellow Jacket offense this afternoon.
After hitting the game winning shot against Winston-Salem Prep, Tia Cappuccio continued her good shooting with an early three that gave Bishop a 5-4 lead about three minutes in. Danielle Nieters, who played spectacularly from the bench against the Phoenix, checked in early as well once Cameron Nieters picked up her first foul.
However, McQuade stayed hot after her 23-point spurt last night. She scored eight points in the first six minutes, and Hayesville opened up a 13-5 lead. After a timeout, Danielle Nieters broke the Villain drought with a free throw line jumper, and Bishop played better on defense. On a drive into the paint by Tessa Johnston, she was fouled and sent to the foul line with 1:21 and hit both free throws – but, it was only the first foul of the game from Hayesville, suggesting that they had played a very clean start. Cameron Nieters pulled the Lady Villains within one with a little layup in the lane, using the size advantage she had over the Yellow Jacket guards. Thompson hit a little banker that reestablished a four point lead for Hayesville, but two foul shots from Julia Brown on the other end cut the margin to two as the first quarter ended.
At the start of the second quarter, Hayesville continued the pesky defense it played in the first period. McQuade stole a pass that led to a Thompson floater, which was then followed by a three from Thompson with Alex Putman’s hand in her face. It established the largest lead of the game at seven with 6:30 to go in the first half. However, the Villains never wilted. Back to back buckets by Brown and Cameron Nieters pulled Bishop back within three at 20-17 – it was a run started by a charge that was drawn by McKenzie Rochford as well as a strong offensive rebound that led to Brown’s basket.
After Julia Brown drew the second foul on Amanda Thompson, Tia Cappuccio hit a three that was followed up by a long two point jumper from Brown. That score tied the contest at 24 with three minutes to play in the half, and then Tessa Johnston gave Bishop the lead back with a left corner bomb. The final two minutes of the half were marked by quick but sloppy play, with turnovers on both sides. With Thompson on the bench sporting two fouls, Hayesville couldn’t find much offense, but two free throws from McQuade brought them back within one with 25 seconds to go in the half. However, McKenzie Rochford bottomed a three from the left corner and put the Lady Villains up four as we went into halftime.
Hayesville took possession to start the second half, but a steal by Julia Brown led to a Tessa Johnston basket that boosted the Bishop margin to six. With Amanda Thompson having two fouls, she needed to be careful to stay on the floor, but she stole a pass intended for Julia Brown and took it coast-to-coast for the Yellow Jackets’ first score of the second half. Then Cameron Nieters picked up two quick fouls and had to sit while Danielle Nieters took her place. The score stuck at 32-28 through the first four minutes of the third quarter as each team was able to score just one basket in the second half to that point.
The insertion of Danielle Nieters into the game paid dividends immediately, as she found Julia Brown on a lob play to open up a five point lead at 35-30 with 2:30 to go in the third. Then Brown stole a rebound from Rachel Benson and laid the ball up for another score. With the seven point lead, there was a feeling in the gym that a tipping point was near if the Villains could put through another couple of baskets. But, Hayesville didn’t sweat – they held strong and stemmed the flow from Bishop’s offense. McQuade hit a bank shot that cut the lead down to four as the third quarter ended.
Then Bishop got what it wanted to start the fourth. Julia Brown got the ball and drove on Benson, drew the contact, and scored. The sequence reestablished the seven point lead at 40-33. But, Megan McQuade stopped the momentum with a long three to cut the lead to four, and then a tough shot from Thompson cut the lead to two. Then the Villains were given a bit of a gift. After a questionable call on Julia Brown, Amanda Thompson was called for her fourth foul in a rebounding situation, effectively neutralizing her on both ends of the floor.
Julia Brown scored on Thompson and reopened a seven point lead, then scored again to make it 47-38, the largest lead of the game. Hayesville took a timeout, and then put into effect a super-attacking defense. It caused turnovers, but the Yellow Jackets couldn’t score on the other end and time ran out on that strategy. They had to resort to fouling the Lady Villains, and Tessa Johnston scored the first points for the Villains in awhile with two foul shots. In the final minute, the Villains hit their free throws to win 57-49 and advanced to the state championship game in Chapel Hill against undefeated Riverside.
Julia Brown finished the game with a double-double to lead all scorers – 19 points and 12 rebounds, Tessa Johnston finished things off, especially at the foul line with 15 points, and Tia Capuccio also poured in 11 strong points. Megan McQuade led Hayesville with 16, as they finished the year just a game short of a state championship appearance. Tipoff will come at noon from Chapel Hill next Saturday against Riverside out of the East Region, and you can hear it all right here at BMHSAthletics.com
Tia Cappuccio hit a monster three with twenty seconds left to give Bishop a long-sought lead and the Lady Villains held off the final charge from Prep to advance to the Regional Final tomorrow with a 49-46 victory.
In the fourth meeting of the year between these two teams, it looked as though the eight-day layoff played well for the Lady Villains to start. Cameron Nieters stole the first pass of the game and Julia Brown scored in transition on the other end, but after that it devolved into the typical contest between these two. Physical play defined the early portion of the first quarter, and it was mainly due to the bullying style that Prep brought into Fleming Gymnasium.
Utilizing strong drives into the paint, many from Dominique Claytor, the Phoenix forced two early fouls on both Nieters and Brown, who had early exits to the bench in the first quarter. Prep went to the free throw line eight times in the opening four minutes of the game and led 8-2. Tessa Johnston put in five straight points including a long three, and then McKenzie Rochford tied things up at 10 when she hit a late first quarter three from the left side.
With Nieters and Brown on the bench, Coach Robinson went with a small lineup, and it paid dividends with a much more active effort on the floor. The Lady Villains found some more steals and a big offensive rebound and score by Tia Cappuccio pulled Bishop within two at 14-12, and then a free throw by Alex Putman made the margin one as the first quarter ended.
To start the second quarter, Mychala Wolfe notched an offensive rebound and her first points extended the lead to 16-13. With Danielle Nieters tiring, Mackenna Johnston and Sarah Ann Craven came into the game and played a magnificent several minutes on defense, which gave Brown and Cameron Nieters time on the bench with two fouls each. Then a strong play where Rochford where she gathered a rebound and took it coast to coast pulled Bishop within one, and then upon reentering the game, Julia Brown’s two free throws gave Bishop the lead.
Tia Cappuccio hit a long three from the right corner and it gave Bishop their largest lead of the game at four, before Brown’s second basket made it 22-18. The success of the Villain bench flustered the Phoenix a bit, as they had to watch Bishop open up a lead for the first time since it was 2-0. Then in the final minute of the half, Danielle Nieters picked up two quick fouls and took a seat on the bench, and neither team could score as we went into halftime with Bishop leading 22-21.
Bishop got the ball to start the second half, but couldn’t do anything on their opening possession, and on their next time down the court, opened the second half with a bullish move on Celia Tibbs to put the Lady Villains up 24-21. However, two straight baskets from Prep gave the Phoenix the lead at 25-24. Cameron Nieters found her first field goal of the night to tie it at 27, but then immediately committed her fourth foul on the defensive end and had to come out of the game.
But the Lady Villains were given the lead right back when Julia Brown found Cappuccio on a fastbreak to make it 29-27, then a wild sequence occurred where Rochford poked the ball away from Kayla Robinson on a fast break, then Julia Brown scored on the other end to open up a three point advantage. Prep never went away, though… Claytor took it down on the other end and scored on a tough floater, and the two teams went back and forth through the final minutes of the third quarter.
Danielle Nieters picked up her fourth foul with two minutes to go in the third, so that put both her and Cameron Nieters on the bench with four fouls. And then on an inbound play, Brown earned her third foul with a tenth of a second to play, so that became a major issue for the Lady Villains heading into the fourth quarter, despite holding a 33-32 lead. Then just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter, Tessa Johnston was fouled, which put the Villains into the bonus, and Johnston made one of two, but the situation was desirable for Bishop. Julia Brown was sent to the line and made two, immediately feeling the benefits of being in the bonus. The two foul shots gave Brown the overall scoring lead, but Claytor kept pace with her with tough move and tough move.
However, the Lady Villains kept going to the well and forcing their way to the free throw line. They got touches for Brown on every possession, and were sent to the line frequently. With five minutes to go, Kayla Robinson scored on a fast break to tie the game at 39, and she followed that up with another basket to give Prep their first lead since early in the third quarter at 41-39. Brown’s 17th point of the night out of a timeout tied us up at 41, and followed that with another score to give Bishop the lead right back at 43-41.
Then Cameron Nieters fouled out. With 2:36 to play, she committed her fifth foul, ending her night with three points and sending Claytor to the line for two. Claytor tied the game at 43, and we entered the final 150 seconds of the contest. Claytor gave Prep another lead at 45-43 with a ridiculously tough jumper, and then a Villain foul send Kyala Searcy to the line. She missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Bishop regained possession before Coach Robinson called timeout.
With 75 seconds left, Brown pulled the Villains within one at 45-44 with a free throw, and then Prep took possession. Searcy drove the baseline on Julia Brown and Julia committed her fifth foul, ending her night. Rochford checked in to give the Villains a very small lineup, as Searcy missed the second free throw. Then on the ensuing possession, Danielle Nieters appeared to travel with 25 seconds, before she somehow got the ball to Putman, who threw it across to Cappuccio, who drained a wild bank shot three from the left wing to give Bishop a 47-46 lead with 22 seconds to play.
Prep took possession and Coach Eugene Love took a timeout with fifteen seconds left to set up one shot. But a key block from Danielle Nieters turned into a loose ball on the floor that was covered by Bishop and sent Tessa Johnston to the free throw line with three seconds left. Tessa made both shots and the final heave from Prep fell short as Bishop won 49-46.
Julia Brown led the way with 20 points, Tia Cappuccio followed right behind with 11, including the game winning three in the final minute. For Prep, Dominique Claytor finished a huge night with 17 points. Bishop will play tomorrow at 4 PM against Hayesville for a shot to go to Chapel Hill for their 9th straight state championship game. You can listen to it all right here beginning at 3:30 with the Carolina Physical Therapy Specialists Countdown to Tipoff Show on BMHSAthletics.com.
It started out with the Lady Villains running a 3-2 zone trying to prohibit any sort of penetration in the lane, and Bishop forced a couple of early steals. Alex Putman got the scoring started for Bishop with a pair of free throws and a three from the left wing, but Atkins got over their early jitters and started forcing its way into the lane. The Villains rebounded very well in the early going, but failed to finish on a few chances down low in the first quarter.
After a switch on defense confused the Lady Villains with the score at 7-5 in favor of Bishop, Danielle Nieters scored in transition to break a long scoring drought for both teams. Tierra Wilson then hit the first three of the game for Atkins to pull the Camels within one point in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter. The rebounding advantage was lost as Atkins played harder than the Villains down the stretch at the end of the quarter, and the period ended with Bishop leading 9-8.
Out of the break at the start of the second quarter, McKenzie Rochford took matters into her own hands and bottomed a three pointer from the top of the key, but a questionable foul on Danielle Nieters tempered the enthusiasm as it was her second of the game and sent her to the bench. After a strong defensive possession, Rochford scored again to increase the lead to four. That basket was followed by a jumper from Johnston that ballooned the lead to 16-10.
Things got a bit dicey after that when Julia Brown was called for her second foul of the night, and Cameron Nieters reentered the game with two fouls of her own followed by Kristina Gardner finding the bottom of the net from deep for Atkins. The three cut the lead back to two, but Cameron Nieters fooled the Camel defense and drove to the hoop for a bucket. After a double dribble was called on Bishop’s ensuing possession, Gardner hit her second straight three to cut the lead down to 18-17. Cameron Nieters found Tessa Johnston cutting to the basket on the next possession, but Gardner’s third three of the night tied the game at 20 in the final minute of the half, and that’s how both teams entered the locker room.
Bishop did not play a spectacular first half by any stretch, and they were in serious danger of being bounced from the playoffs if they played another sixteen minutes like they did in the first half. Coming out of the locker room the Villains had a players only huddle after a presumably unpleasant ten minutes in the locker room. But, Tyler Mercer gave the Camels their first lead of the night with a floater in the lane, but Bishop did what they didn’t do in the first half and got Julia Brown a touch down low. Brown drew a foul and then on the inbound Johnston hit a three for her ninth point and it reestablished the lead for Bishop.
Brown’s counterpart for the Camels, Armani Hampton, scored her first points on the ensuing possession, but then Julia scored her first two baskets of the game back to back to give Bishop a 27-24 advantage. Both teams then went into another scoring drought, before Cameron Nieters cut to the lane on a nice pass from her sister, converting a three point play in the process. Atkins never quit though and forced Julia Brown to commit her fourth foul with 1:30 to play in the third quarter trailing just 30-28. Brown took a seat, but Bishop extended the lead back to four on another bucket from Cameron Nieters on a nifty inbound play. Presumably holding the ball for the last shot, the Villains swung the ball around to Tia Cappuccio, silent all night, but she nailed a long three to establish a 35-28 lead as the third quarter ended.
Coming out at the start of the fourth quarter, Cameron Nieters was fouled on a drive to the basket, putting the Villains into the bonus with 7:35 to go in the game, and loosening the grip Atkins had on the game. Then Wilson knocked down the first open three of the second half, and then a wrong call by the officials gave Atkins the ball. Deayohanna Smith then banked in a three and the bad call resulted in a five point swing and brought the lead back down to 36-34. Nieters stemmed the tide a bit with a pair of free throws and Bishop hit the double bonus with 5:52 left to play in the game.
Julia Brown came back into the game with four fouls, but a Bishop turnover resulted in a runout for Tierra Wilson to cut the lead back to two points. Cameron Nieters kept willing her way to the free throw line though, and lead went back to 40-36. Then in a loose ball situation, Nieters was fouled again and made two shots from the line to extend the lead to six. Late in the game though, Sydnie Rogers converted on two straight baskets, the second of which an 'And 1' opportunity after Danielle Nieters fouled her, and she converted the three point play and gave the Camels the lead at 43-42 with 1:41 to play.
With eight straight state titles hanging in the balance, Cappuccio hit one of the biggest shots of the year, a pullup jumper from the right corner, to give Bishop the lead right back at 44-43 followed by an ugly Camels turnover to give it back to Bishop with a minute left. Tessa Johnston drove to the hoop but lost the ball in traffic, which led to a runout. Back the other way, Danielle Nieters blocked a shot from the hard driving Saryna Carpenter to keep the Villains in front and then was fouled on the ensuing possession. Nieters hit one of two, putting Bishop up 45-43. With 15 seconds left, Coach Lowery for Atkins called timeout to set up a final shot. In the final frenzy, Danielle Nieters forced an awkward shot from Carpenter, and a final heave at the buzzer fell well short for the Camels, and Bishop escaped with the 45-43 win.
Cameron Nieters led the way for the Lady Villains with 14 points as she willed her team to the victory. Tierra Wilson led all scorers with 16 points for Atkins, Tessa Johnston scored nine for Bishop, and Kristina Gardner’s nine first half points was good for second place for the Camels, as Bishop gets out with the win and advances to Greensboro to play Winston-Salem Prep next Friday night at 8:30pm. The broadcast will of course be heard right here on BMHSAthletics.com beginning at 8pm.