- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The last time the North Point boys basketball team lost a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference contest came on Feb. 22, 2010 versus visiting Thomas Stone.
Since then, the Eagles have been on a rampage, and on Friday night, exploited another SMAC opponent, cruising to a 103-57 victory at Lackey, the ninth time this season they have hit the century mark in points.
With the win, North Point (21-1, 12-0 SMAC) capped off its regular season with an undefeated SMAC record for the third-straight season and is on a 38-game SMAC win streak.
When asked how special it was to keep the SMAC streak going, North Point head coach Jimmy Ball just smiled and said it’s simply hard work.
“I had a conversation with [Westlake] [head] coach [Edward] Mouton, and we were talking about how these guys work hard everyday,” said Ball, who had Mouton on his staff the last two seasons as an assistant. “I’m just marveled at how unselfish this group is, and it’s tough to get guys to do that. When you have a group that is this unselfish, this alleviates problems. To see these guys grow is a great thing to watch.”
With its relentless full-court pressure defensively and its transition offense, the Eagles depth and fast-paced style was too much on Lackey’s senior night, taking an early 28-10 first-quarter lead and building it to 57-27 at intermission to put the game out of the reach.
Seedings for the playoffs came out Sunday, and North Point was awarded the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the Class 4A East Region playoffs, where it will be making a push to win its third-straight region crown.
The Eagles will play in the quarterfinals next Thursday against the winner of the first round match-up, which has ninth-seeded Glen Burnie playing at eighth-seeded South River, both of Anne Arundel County.
“This was a big game for us and gives us momentum going into the playoffs,” said North Point senior forward Naim Muhammad, who scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed six rebounds, five of which were offensive, and three steals. “We are taking it one game at a time, and hopefully we can be back at Comcast [Center, host of the state semifinals and championship round].”
Seniors Marquis Wright (6 assists, 4 blocks, 5 steals) and Matt Bonds (10 rebounds, 6 steals) each recorded 18 points, and Anthony Williams (5 assists) contributed with nine points.
Bonds, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, used his strength to power to the basket for a tough bucket and fed off Wright finding him.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” I love playing with my teammates, said Bonds, who is averaging 18.8 points a game. “We came out with a flare, and guys off the bench came in and produced. We are going to concentrate on our first opponent in the playoffs.”
Lackey out-scored the Eagles 33-29 off the bench, but North Point had a 71-24 advantage from the starters,
“We have a two-week break until playoffs, and the team that manages that break will win the state championship,” Ball said. “We will take one game at a time. Each night we are seeing growth in our players, and that is good for us in getting to our common goal.”
At halftime, Lackey seniors C.J. Redden, Charlie Wright, Kevin Smith and D.J. Gather were honored in their final regular season home game.
“Tonight we were pumped up for the game, but once North Point put that heat on us, we got in trouble,” Lackey head coach Pierre Bland said. “If we could handle the pressure, it would be closer, but senior night was great and it was nice to see them play.”
Lackey (6-15, 4-8) earned the 10th seed in the 2A South Region playoffs and will visit No. 7 Patuxent next Tuesday for a first-round match-up.