GREENSBORO — Bishop McGuinness will have a shot at its eighth-consecutive state 1A basketball title after defeating Cherokee 58-56 for the West Region title.
The Lady Villains looked like a team used to being in the regional final, showing composure in the second quarter after Cherokee led 16-12 in the first.
Cherokee was seeking to reach the state finals for the first time since 1998.
The Lady Braves hit the last shot of the third quarter to cut Bishop’s five-point lead to 48-45.
However, the Lady Villains came back with two straight makes to open the fourth quarter and build a 53-45 lead.
In Bishop’s previous seven titles, the margin of victory was always comfortable. The closest finish was nine points.
In this one, Cherokee’s Avery Mintz hit two free throws with 1:50 left to cut the lead to 56-54.
Unfortunately for Cherokee, Mintz, the team’s leading scorer, then fouled out.
After Bishop missed two free throws, however, Cherokee called a timeout with 19 seconds left. Jordyn Thompson got an open three-point try from the left wing that could have given the Lady Braves the lead, but missed.
Bishop made two free throws to go up 58-54.
Cherokee raced down the floor and scored again, but there was only one second remaining. Bishop inbounded the ball, and the clock ran out.
The Villains had four players on the all-regional team: Julia Brown, Olivia DeFrancesco, Tessa Johnston and Cameron Nieters.
Despite losing, Mintz was named most valuable player after she totaled 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.