Last year, Bishop England High School icon Paul Runey announced the 2022-23 academic would be his last as the school’s athletic director. He also pondered calling it a career as the girls’ basketball coach.
But Runey, who has been at the school for more than 50 years in some capacity, decided to keep the whistle around his neck and clipboard in hand while he develops more talent and more top-shelf teams.
“One of these days, the program is going to need a breath of fresh air, a new look,” Runey said. “One of these days, a change (in coaches) needs to be made.”
But until that day comes, Runey will continue to cement his legacy as one of the greatest girls’ basketball coaches in the Palmetto State.
His team split the first two games of the 2023-24 season, finishing second in the Riptide Preseason Tournament. The victory over Charleston Math and Science gave him 779 career victories. The loss to Wando in the championship marked his 1,000th game as the girls’ coach at BE. That’s a winning percentage of .779.
Throw is six state championships since the 2011-12 season and three Lower State championships, and all the numbers add up.
What’s left for Runey? A possible date with history.
His 779 victories are third on the state’s all-time list. Anne Long, who coached at Dutch Fork and Spring Valley, is at the top of the pack with 824 victories while Fred Senter of Mullins is No. 2 on the list with 792.
“It’s not something I would hang my hat on,” said Runey, whose team went 19-12 last winter, finished third in Region 7-AA and claimed second in the state after losing to Gray Academy, 40-32, in the Class AA state championship. “There are a lot of people who want me to break the record because they think it would be good
publicity for BE. It’s doable, but not the driving force. I’m not going to drag it out just to get the record.”
The Bishops lost one senior from last year’s edition, Evelyn Kitchin. But plenty of talent returns, including Izzy Woods, a 5-4 bundle of energy and talent who was named one of the top five senior girls in Class AA by the state coaches association after averaging 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game.
Runey pointed out she will matriculate to Wofford to play lacrosse and could have been a top-notch tennis player if she pursued the sport.
“She’s fast and doesn’t know when to quit,” Runey said. “She goes 100 miles per hour and gives 100 percent effort.”
Lisse van de Erve is another key returner. She can play either guard or forward and hopes to build off a solid season when she averaged 7.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest as a sophomore.
The other three starters include Madison Riley, Lizzy Tompkins and Lilly Hodge. Riley is a talented athlete who had a key role on the cross country team that won a state title. Top players off the bench include freshman Olivia Allen, Hadley Irvine and Hanna Rosato.