- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
North Point’s journey toward a Class 4A state boys basketball championship began Thursday night as it took on Glen Burnie of Anne Arundel County in a 4A East Region quarterfinal contest.
For the third straight season, the Eagles were too much in the postseason for the Gophers, with an overwhelming 92-56 victory.
North Point (22-1 overall) won its 18th straight contest and advanced to take on fourth-seeded Old Mill, also of Anne Arundel County, in Tuesday night’s region semifinals, a game that finished too late for inclusion in this edition.
A victory would put top-seeded North Point into the region championship Friday evening at home versus the winner of Tuesday’s other region semifinal, which had third-seeded Meade taking on second-seeded Arundel in an all-Anne Arundel County match-up.
“The focus is on [Old Mill]. We have a common goal, but we don’t want to overlook anyone,” said North Point head coach Jimmy Ball, whose team is averaging 95 points a game and yielding only about 55 points to opponents with their fast-paced attack on both ends of the floor. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
The Eagles only led 19-13 after the first quarter, then broke things open in the second quarter to lead 40-25 at halftime.
By the second half, North Point turned on the heat defensively, forcing numerous turnovers, and exploded to a 70-38 lead after three quarters to all but put the game away.
“Two weeks is a long time to be off,” said Ball, whose team had a first-round bye and hadn’t played since their regular season finale Feb. 15, a 103-57 victory over host Lackey. “Our shooting was a little off, but the guys kept their heads and stuck with it. In the second half, defensively, we just wore them down.”
North Point senior forward Matt Bonds finished with a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, while senior point guard Marquis Wright collected 16 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and six steals. Senior forward Naim Muhammad finished with 15 points, grabbed eight boards and had five steals.
After a back-and-forth first period, the closest the Gophers came was 19-16 after freshman guard Camari Wilkerson’s three-pointer. Wilkerson finished with a team-high 16 points. Senior guard Devin Ward added 10 points in the loss.
“After a couple dunks, we settled down in the second quarter and we fed off of our defense,” Bonds said. “We picked the intensity up toward, and in the second half, we just exploited a lot of things.”
“We started off slow, but we picked it up,” Muhammad said. “It was a long two weeks, and it felt good to get back on the court and get the playoffs started.”
With 1 minute 25 seconds left in the third quarter, the game was stopped momentarily as Muhammad scored his 1,000 career point.
Muhammad was given the 1,000-point ball for his efforts by Ball, while teammates, fans and his mother applauded him for the honor.
“Getting 1,000 was great to finally reach,” said Muhammad, who recently committed to Division II’s Shepherd University (W.Va.). “This is something that I’ve wanted to do. It feels great to do this in front of everyone that has supported me.”
“Naim knows what he needed, we’ve had three guys in the program that have scored 1,000 points,” Ball said. “I’m proud that he was able to reach that accomplishment.”