BE girls' basketball ranked third heading into season
Last March, the Bishop England High School girls basketball team had just defeated Keenan to win its sixth state championship in eight years, and in the midst the celebration, coach Paul Runey was asked what his team would do for an encore during the 2019-20 season.
“I’ve got to think about that,” said Runey, whose team begins the season with 197 victories in its last 217 games. “We have some holes to plug. We lose four starters. We won’t be as tall, but we will be fast.”
Runey wasn’t kidding. The team lost four starters and 85 percent of its scoring punch, including Katie Brooks, an all-state selection who led the team in multiple offensive and defensive categories.
Eight months later, Runey hasn’t changed his tune. The Bishops begin the season ranked No. 3 in Class AAA in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association poll. But Runey said that ranking might be a tribute to past performances.
“That might be a little high,” Runey said of the ranking. “Keenan, by far, with their whole team back, deserves to be No. 1. We lost 4/5th of our scoring. This is a different year.”
During the state championship game that led to a 56-48 victory over Keenan, Brooks tallied 20 points, hitting 11 of 12 from the foul line in addition to collecting six rebounds and four steals. The Bishops finished with a 28-1 record, and classmates Kelly Drummond, Josie Dennis and Katie Cullum also had key roles.
The one returning starter is Jahia Williams, who split time between guard and the No. 3 position.
Lily Woods was one of the first players off the bench last winter, but she hasn’t stepped out on the hardwood court this fall because she recently helped the tennis team win yet another state championship. She was competing in the individual state tournament this week, which was pushed back because of inclement weather.
While the graduation losses are huge, this is Bishop England, a team that is fueled by an impressive feeder system.
“We’ve got some good kids,” Runey said. “I don’t think we have the outside scoring, which we need because we’re not as big inside. We’re quicker this year but we have to be. We’re not going to be able to pound the ball inside.”
One player to keep an eye on is Princess Scott, a player who has worked hard to get better and has the potential to be a force inside.
“We will run a lot of screens off of her,” Runey said of the sophomore player.
Patricia George, like Woods, will be counted on but she hasn’t practiced because she is on the cross country team and was scheduled to run in Tuesday’s state championship, which was pushed back because of the bad weather over the weekend.
Three volleyball players — Emma Albano, Adry Simmons, and Ella Schar — will see a good bit of playing time on the basketball court this season.