Jaiha Williams has enough basketball savvy to know it’s not how you begin the season. It’s how you end it.
That’s why the Bishop England star was nothing but smiles Monday night after Bishop England’s 64-25 road victory over the Hanahan Hawks in a Region 8-AAA game. It marked the Bishops’ first game since Dec. 4 because of the rampant COVID-19 pandemic, and ended a streak of 12 games that the Bishops either canceled or postponed.
It was a belated but appreciated step for the Bishops, who are attempting to win their seventh state championship in the last 10 years. Williams played on last year’s team that reached the state quarterfinals and was on the team her sophomore year that captured the 2018-19 state title.
She wants to go out as a winner as her prep career comes to a close.
“Obviously, it felt good to get back out there,” Williams said. “We missed 12 games but still practiced all the time. But that’s OK. That practice will come in handy when we get to Colonial Life (Arena). It seems like every time we get ready to play a game, it gets postponed and then we practice. That practice time will come in handy.”
Colonial Life Arena is the venue for the High School League’s Final Four. Playoffs begin Feb. 15-16 and culminate with the Weekend of Champions on March 5-6.
The season couldn’t have begun any better for Williams, who has enough talent to factor in at three positions for coach Paul Runey’s squad. She parlayed being named the region MVP and all-state honors last season into an impressive preseason honor: The state coaches association named her one of the top five seniors in Class AAA, while the Bishops were ranked in the top 10 – as usual.
“It’s great to get acknowledged as an individual, but basketball is about being a team and working together,” Williams said. “I am so fortunate to play with teammates who have good skills, are determined and want to win.”
Williams and Lily Woods are the Bishops’ top players. Woods has a higher scoring average because she gets many buckets off steals and fastbreaks.
“Jaiha gives us an outside presence,” Runey said. “That means other teams have to come out and guard her.”
Runey thinks she has the ability to play at the next level after she concludes her senior season.
“Jaiha has been a starter since her freshman year, and she has gotten better every year,” Runey said. “She’s a great kid and a team leader. I still don’t think she’s reached her potential as a basketball player. There’s still a lot of basketball in her.” Runey added
Williams has the potential to play college basketball.
Williams has just received her first offer from Coker University. She concurs with Runey about her potential.
“I agree with him. He is right,” Williams said. “Every practice, he pushes me to get better and reach my potential. Playing for (coach) Runey is a learning experience. I take notes when he gives us pointers.”