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BALTIMORE – Even with a commanding 20-point lead in the middle stages of the third quarter, the North Point girls basketball saw its lead quickly dwindle to three points midway through the final period in Saturday's Class 4A state championship game at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's RAC Arena.

However, the Eagles exploded to an 11-0 run to take a 14-point lead.

With the score 58-44 and more than a minute left to play, Poly responded with a 12-4 run, but it wasn't enough. The Eagles, the three-time 4A East Region champion, were able to wrap up their first-ever state title in program history, 62-56.

Like the boys 2010-11 state champion team did three years ago, the North Point girls also finished with a perfect 27-0 record.

As the Eagles and head coach Michael Serpone were honored with the state champion hardware, emotions, smiles, joys and celebration occurred at midcourt.

“The girls earned it; this is officially the best girls team in North Point history,” Serpone said. “We can now say we finished as the top team in the state. We worked hard all season, and it all paid off. I'm proud of them; this is a big accomplishment.”

Though trailing 19-13 after the first quarter and 32-17 at halftime, Poly was able to cut a 20-point deficit in the middle stages of the third to just nine heading into the fourth due to its full-court pressure, forcing the Eagles into 29 turnovers, 16 in the second half.

“We weren't executing like we wanted to, but we started to settle down and their press turned into layups for us,” Serpone said. “Our 1-2-1-1 press is our bread and butter, and I thought Poly struggled with that. We were able to wear them down late in the game, but they fought the whole game and had us on the ropes.”

North Point senior forward Tasia Butler finished with a team-high 24 points, exploding for 15 in the first half, and knocked down 10 of 15 free throws (67 percent) on the day. Senior Chalise Greenwood finished 11 points and had a huge three-pointer during the big fourth-period run to put the Eagles on top 54-44 with 2 minutes 35 seconds left.

“Today, I just can't thank my team enough,” said Butler, who also had seven rebounds and three steals in the contest. “We turned it late in the second half, and I'm so excited that I got a ring.”

The Eagles shot 27 for 46 (59 percent) from the free-throw line, and Poly was 11 for 21 (52 percent) from the line.

“I have a great group of fighters,” said Poly head coach Kendall Peace-Able, whose team committed 21 turnovers. “North Point just wanted it a little bit more than we did.”

Poly (22-6) was led by junior forward Teira Pendleton with a game-high 25 points, 15 in the second half, to help her team keep pace with the Eagles.

Junior Khalia Prather controlled the paint for North Point, finishing with seven points and 16 boards. Junior Kandeon Niravanh added nine points off the bench for the Eagles.

ajmason@somdnews.com

North Point 62, Baltimore Polytechnic 56

North Point 19 13 13 17

Poly 13 4 19 20

North Point: Butler 24, Greenwood 11, Niravanh 9, Prather 7, Mainor 5, Vastey 3, Hodges 2, Henderson 1

Poly: Pendleton 25, Stokes 9, Young 8, Pearson 5, Ross 3, Okororie 3, Smith 3

Free throws: North Point 27-46 (Butler 10-15, Niravanh 7-8, Greenwood 4-6); Poly 11-21 (Pendleton 7-11)

3-point goals: North Point 1 (Greenwood); Poly 3 (Ross , Stokes, Pearson)