- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For the nine seniors on the North Point boys basketball team, it couldn’t have been a greater feeling to cut down the nets for one last time on their home court.
On Friday night, the top-seeded Eagles captured their third-straight Class 4A East Region champion with an 89-64 victory over second-seeded Arundel of Anne Arundel County.
Last year, North Point had the third seed and defeated top-seed Arundel on the road for the region crown, 72-52.
Seniors Marquis Wright, Naim Muhammad and Matt Bonds have won all three region crowns, while Anthony Williams, Daylin Davis, Steven Cole, Jawan Howze and Tavon Wimbish have won the last two.
“This was special for our nine seniors; they are going to be gone after this season, and to do this on their home floor for the last time was great,” North Point head coach Jimmy Ball said. “All the hard work in the spring, summer, fall and this winter paid off. This group has definitely come a long way, and I enjoy coaching them; they really trust each other and are very unselfish.”
Friday’s victory for the Eagles advances them back to the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center in College Park for a 4A state semifinal rematch with Prince George’s County outfit Eleanor Roosevelt (25-1) at 9 p.m. Thursday. Roosevelt, the 4A South Region champion, defeated county rival Dr. Henry A. Wise, 56-55, in its title game Friday.
Last March, the Eagles lost a 65-63 heartbreaker to the Raiders on a game-winning layup just before the horn sounded.
“Roosevelt knocked us out last year, and we still remember that,” said Ball, whose team won the program’s first state crown three years ago. “I think we will be better prepared this time, but they are a tough team and are well coached, but if we execute and play defense like we did tonight, we can win.”
Bonds continued to own the paint inside for North Point and finished with a game-high 26 points and 16 rebounds, converting on several tip dunks from missed shots that came off the rim.
“This was special to win the region for one last time on our home floor,” the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Bonds said. “The guys were real hungry tonight, and we just picked it up on defense.”
After the Eagles took a 19-10 first-quarter lead, Arundel battled early in the second and only trailed 26-18 at the 5 minute 31 second mark, but North Point exploded on a 20-7 run to take the commanding 46-26 halftime lead.
Williams, a 5-foot-9 guard, scored 11 of his career-high 21 points in the first half, knocking down two three-pointers during the big run in the second, and hit 9 of 11 free throws (82 percent) in the game, going 7 for 7 in the fourth from the line. He also collected five steals with his stifling defense.
“Our defense turns into our offense,” Williams said. “When you are playing with a point guard like Marquis Wright, you have to be ready to shoot,; he will find you. I’m excited we are going back to Comcast.”
Ball added: “Anthony came a long way and had a hard time at first, but he’s molded himself into a outstanding player at the varsity level.”
The Eagles jumped out of the gates with a 5-0 run in the first two minutes of play. Arundel’s Markus Oliphant answered with two points, but on the ensuing possession, Wright (12 points) dished out a perfect lob pass to Davis, who finished off the alley-oop with the slam.
The home crowd went crazy, and the Eagles pressure started to wear down Arundel over the course of the game. The Wildcats had numerous unforced turnovers on wild passes and failed inbounds plays.
“Me and Daylin have played together for a long time, since our youth days, so we just have that connection,” said Wright, who added six assists and seven rebounds. “This is a wonderful feeling to win my last home game. I’m happy to go back to Comcast.”
Muhammad contributed with 11 points and seven boards in the win.
“This was the icing on the cake to win our final home game,” Muhammad said. “Tonight, we just wanted to get out early and put the pressure on them.”
The Eagles built a 24-point lead early in the third and took a 19-point lead heading into the fourth. Arundel would come no closer than 16 points in the fourth.
The Wildcats (22-4) were led by senior guard Keaton Mack with 16 points, who was scoreless in the first quarter.
“We handled the pressure well at times, but when we broke it, we didn’t convert at the rim,” Arundel head coach Jeff Starr said. “We battled and cut it to 16 in the fourth. North Point just did a great job, and they don’t stop attacking; they are hard to stop when you get behind.”