- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For the second time in three years, the North Point Eagles are the top seed in the highly competitive boys basketball playoff field of the Class 4A East Region.
For the second straight postseason, North Point enters regionals as the preeminent favorite — in the entire state.
North Point (21-1 overall) is looking to capture a second state title in three years after getting heartbroken in last year’s 4A semifinals at University of Maryland’s Comcast Center on a driving layup by Eleanor Roosevelt of Prince George’s County to untie the score in the final seconds.
North Point’s state glory in 2011 ended a prodigious 38-year skid for the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference without a boys hoops Maryland banner.
And its dominant regular season in 2012-13 provided no reason to doubt its favored status to claim a third-straight regional title this postseason en route to reigning over the state again.
North Point’s only loss came in a 60-57 shortcoming to prep school power DeMatha in the Prince George’s County-hosted inaugural DMV Tip-Off Classic, and the defeat was more about the Eagles not playing up to their usual standard as they failed to hit any three-pointers and never got into their signature defense-generated offensive groove.
For the third-straight regular season, North Point was perfect in SMAC games en route to the conference crown — now boasting a 38-game win streak inside the talented league — and all of its regular season wins were by double digits.
North Point is led by a dynamic college-bound trio in point guard Marquis Wright (Division I Loyola) and forwards Matt Bonds (Division II St. Michael’s) and Naim Muhammad (Division II Shepherd), each a force on both sides of the court in the Eagles’ high-octane style of play.
“Everybody always says we have the target on our back but how about going out and getting people. That’s the attitude we’re taking, we’re going out to get you,” said North Point head coach Jimmy Ball, whose club opens its regional action, with home court throughout, in the quarterfinals Thursday of next week versus either ninth-seeded South River or eighth-seeded Glen Burnie, both of Anne Arundel County, at 6:30 p.m.
About North Point’s overwhelming pressure defense that has fueled the team to scoring more than 100 points a prolific nine times in the regular season, Ball added, “The best, the best, the best [we’ve ever had]. And if something happens and we don’t win [the state title], [this defense] still going to be the best. When you’ve got 15, 16 guys that buy into what you’re saying every day, that’s what you want.”
North Point’s state-title team of two years ago prevailed atop Maryland mostly due to its constant defensive pressure, beating the Baltimore area’s top-ranked Patterson in the Comcast Center-hosted final.
“We’d have to say that probably yeah,” the North Point coach said about this year’s Eagles being ahead of the pace of his state-title team of two years ago entering regionals. “But the one thing that team has [of two years ago] that we don’t have is a state championship. That team was tight too, but this team is real tight.”
The 4A East also contains Arundel (20-3) as the No. 2 seed, while Roosevelt (22-1), only one of two Maryland public schools to beat North Point since the start of the 2010-11 season, is the top seed in the 4A South.
Great Mills, which finished the regular season with a St. Mary’s County-best 11-11 overall record, was pegged with the randomly drawn 11th seed in the 4A East and travels to Broadneck (9-13) of Anne Arundel County, randomly seeded sixth, at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a first-round contest.
Also at 6 p.m. Tuesday, 10th-seeded Leonardtown (7-13) will be at seventh-seeded Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County.
“For us this year, it’s all about game experience. We’re mostly a young team,” Great Mills head coach Frank Peck said. “Broadneck has a great environment up there. They have a great student body that can get very rowdy, so to speak, so that will be a great experience. We’ve played some of the toughest teams in the playoffs [between 4A and 3A].”
The Hornets coach, whose team prefers more of an up-tempo style, added, “I think we’re very even at this point [with Broadneck]. We kind of play two different styles. So whoever imposes their style of basketball is probably going to come out on top.”
Other regional hopes from SMAC
Stone (15-7) is gunning for a fifth regional crown in six years as the reigning 3A state runner-up.
The Cougars are seeded No. 2 in the 3A South Region where Potomac of Prince George’s County (18-3) boasts the top seed.
Stone will start the playoffs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at home versus seventh-seeded Northern (5-17).
Westlake (16-6), coming off a big late-season win over Stone, earned the third seed in the 3A South.
The Wolverines will face sixth-seeded Chopticon (2-20) at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Ninth-seeded La Plata (9-10) will match up against eighth-seeded Huntingtown (9-13) in a first-round contest at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The winner faces Potomac on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Calvert (16-6), which owned a 9-3 SMAC record along with Westlake behind only Stone’s 10-2 and North Point’s perfect 12-0 league marks, cashed in its quality regular season for the No. 2 seed in the 2A South bracket. Undefeated Oakland Mills of Howard County (22-0) is the top seed in the 2A South.
Calvert, following a first-round bye, will host a familiar foe in either the SMAC’s Patuxent (4-18), the seventh seed, or Lackey (6-15), the 10th seed, on Thursday in the 2A South quarterfinals.
McDonough (13-9), randomly seeded ninth in the 2A South, travels to eighth-seeded Gwynn Park (12-10) of Prince George’s County on Tuesday for its first-round game. A win there would mean playing top-seeded Oakland Mills, and darkhorse McDonough has been dangerous on the road in the regular season with an 8-4 record.
firstname.lastname@example.org Staff writer Michael Reid contributed to this report.