Coach Runey became the sixth coach in South Carolina girls’ hoops history to record 700 career victories when the Bishops defeated Hanahan 51-9 on Jan. 22. He added No. 701 three days later with a resounding victory over Waccamaw.
Bishop England had no trouble advancing to the state finals for the sixth time in seven seasons, handing Dillon its first and only loss of the season 46-22 in the Class AAA Lower State championship game.
Lady Bishops will move on to the Class AAA state championship game Saturday March 2 against Keenan. Tip-off will be at 2 p.m.
Runey, has a chance to become the state’s all-time winningest girls’ basketball coach by the time he hangs up his whistle. If Runey remains in the game, and the team remains in the upper echelon of the elite in the Palmetto State, there’s no reason why he can’t top the record of the all-time winningest coach, Anne Long. She recorded 824 victories as coach of Dutch Fork and Spring Valley from 1974-2015.
“I don’t look at that record,” Runey said. “In all honesty, if it gets to the point where I’m no longer having fun and it’s just a job, I’m done. If I don’t feel the passion and it’s just a paycheck, I’m done.”
Runey admits he’s still passionate and having fun. But who wouldn’t be with the results he has had in the last seven seasons.
The Lady Bishops failed to win a fifth consecutive state championship last season, but their recent success has been astounding. The Bishops won their fourth straight state championship in 2017, a feat only five other High School League teams have been able to accomplish. If that doesn’t impress you, consider this. The Bishops are 189-20 in their last seven seasons, including 20-1 this season heading into this week’s games. The Bishops’ winning percentage in their last 209 games is .904.
Still, Runey doesn’t look ahead or at the Palmetto’s Finest record book, which is compiled by the High School League. If he did, he would see there’s a good chance that he can pass Dorothy Fortune (736), Taft Watson (739) and John Thames (743) by the time the 2020-21 season concludes. That would leave only Fred Senter (792) and Long (824) above Runey on the rungs of the winningest coaches.
“I’ve been a coach at Bishop England for 45 years, including 35 years as the girls’ coach,” Runey said. “I’ve been at Bishop England for 50 years because I played football as an eighth-grader. My dad (Michael J. Runey Jr.) was one of the founders and was heavily involved in the Triple B Club. So, I’ve been here all my life. There’s nothing magical about being here 50 years because I’ve been here all my life. Being the winningest coach history isn’t something I even think about.”
Runey has seen a big change in girls’ hoops during his tenure. He says the players are bigger, faster, more talented and more committed, playing year round.
He’s also says he’s changed. He was fiery as a football coach and, on occasion, yelled at his players. When he took over the girls’ hoops program, he didn’t yell at his players.