It was a season of uncertainty, with a dash of heartache and hope.
And in the end, it included drama, lots of drama.
The Bishop England girls’ basketball team came up a little short in Friday’s Class AAA state championship game, dropping an intense 62-55 decision to sophomore superstar Milaysia Fulwiley and the Keenan Raiders.
But the score doesn’t tell the entire story. The Bishops fell behind early and found themselves in a 19-point hole in the contest, which was played at USC-Aiken. The Bishops cut the lead to three points with less than a minute remaining in the game. But Fulwiley hit some key foul shots with the game on the line to give the Raiders their second consecutive state title.
“We just dug ourselves in too deep of a hole,” said Bishop coach Paul Runey, whose team was making its eighth appearance in the state championship in the last 10 years. “I have been using that phrase a lot when I talk about the game. In the end, every time we made a move, they were able to counter.”
The Bishops, who finished with a 12-2 record, fell behind by 12 points at the end of the first quarter and were down by 17 at intermission. Keenan pushed the lead to as much as 19 in the third quarter before the Bishops stormed back.
The 2020-21 season will be forever remembered as the season that was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was cut short, and there were times the Bishops didn’t know if they were playing a game until hours before the scheduled tipoff.
Once the Bishops reached the playoffs, they had to deal with personal loss. Runey’s wife, Patty, passed away and Runey missed the first playoff game. But he returned to lead his team.
Senior Lily Woods led the Bishops with 22 points, hitting 10 of 22 from the field. She grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists as the Bishops played with passion in an attempt to win one in memory of Runey’s wife.
“She was a very, very sweet person,” Woods said of Mrs. Runey. “She loved Bishop England and she loved her family. And, we were part of that family. She loved watching us play and she loved watching coach Runey coach. You could see their love for each other.”
But in the end, it was a case of too much Fulwiley, who collected 29 points and six assists.
“She’s the real deal,” Runey said. “We knew Fulwiley would create problems. We just couldn’t stop her.”
Woods and Jaiha Williams, the team’s captains, played in their final game. Junior Ally Dominiak scored 18 points for the Bishops, hitting eight of 20 from the field. Princess Scott dominated on the boards, collecting 11 rebounds.
Just a few years ago, the Bishops were the toast of Class AAA. But now it seems Keenan has that title. Fulwiley is only a sophomore and just her presence makes Keenan the team to beat in 2021-22.
“You are going to have to be the cream of the crop to win the state title,” Runey said. “Keenan will be tough, and Camden will present a challenge as well.”