UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell watches her team from the de facto skybox.

CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC’s final game before Christmas turns out to be a very special occasion.

For the first time all season, Coach Sylvia Hatchell will watch her team play in person.

Hatchell, who will watch from the lower media box about 20 feet above the court, has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for leukemia and isn’t supposed to get near big crowds.

In her absence the Tar Heels have been led by Hatchell’s 27-year veteran assistant Andrew Calder.

Today’s opponent is High Point, which actually leads the series 3-1 but hasn’t played the Tar Heels since the Carter Administration. The Panthers have a couple of local players on the squad in junior Ashante Richard from Northern Durham and freshman forward DeAnneshia Jackson from Harnett Central.

UNC is ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, and barring disaster is going to move up Monday following Wednesday’s 74-66 win over No. 10 South Carolina in Myrtle Beach.

The Tar Heels put six players in double figures for the second time this season and win 103-71.


UNCs Danielle Butts takes to the air while NDea Bryant ducks.
  • Photo by Alexis Baird
  • UNC’s Danielle Butts takes to the air while N’Dea Bryant ducks.

UNC scores the first five points of the game and never trails.

The Tar Heels get a scare when Diamond DeShields goes down under the basket with 8:46 left in the first, but X-rays to her left hand are negative.

The biggest point difference is the final score.

Xylina McDaniel leads the Tar Heels with 16 points, followed by Danielle Butts with a career-high 14 off the bench and Allisha Gray with 14. Jessica Washington adds 12 while Stephanie Mavunga and Brittany Rountree chip in 11 each.

Latrice Phelps leads the Panthers with a career-high 20 while freshman Teddy Vincent chips in a season-high 14 and Jackson scores 10.

UNC shoots 48.6 percent from the floor to High Point’s 35.3, wins the rebound battle 51-32 and has 16 turnovers to the visitors’ 18.

They said it:
Calder: “(Hatchell’s return) was really exciting. I want to thank her again for continuing to help us as we go into each game. She helps us with the game plan and the motivation of the players. She’s doing a great job and we really appreciate her being here today. She was here last Sunday when the players were going to (Myrtle) Beach, and was in the office about two hours yesterday.”

High Point coach DeUnna Hendrix: “I grew up watching (Hatchell).“I’ve always admired her.”

McDaniel: “We found out before the game, and everybody was really excited. We just miss her a lot, so being able to see her face before the game was really good.”

Washington: “Seeing her up there was really good. I know she gets to watch us play on the computer and TV and stuff, but to see her up there was exciting for the team.”

What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are really good at track meets.

Stars of the game
1. McDaniel.
2. Butts.
3. Gray.

Play of the game
Washington’s 25-footer at the halftime buzzer.


UNC: Won 6.
High Point: Lost 3.

High Point leads 3-2.

Up next
High Point vs. Liberty, Dec. 30, 7 p.m.
UNC vs. James Madison, Jan. 2, 2 p.m.

Diamond DeShields goes up for the layup. High Point’s No. 10 is Lindsay Puckett; UNC’s No. 34 is Xylina McDaniel and No. 1 is Stephanie Mavunga.
  • Photo by Alexis Baird
  • Diamond DeShields goes up for the layup. High Point’s No. 10 is Lindsay Puckett; UNC’s No. 34 is Xylina McDaniel and No. 1 is Stephanie Mavunga.