Through the entire first half and much of the third quarter, the Great Mills High School girls basketball team’s bid for an undefeated season appeared in serious jeopardy at North Point High School on Wednesday evening.
Great Mills (12-0 overall) managed only 17 points in the first half and trailed the host Eagles, 27-19, with five minutes remaining in the third quarter after North Point’s Charity Adams connected on a three-point field goal. Faced with the prospects of tasting their first defeat of the campaign, however, the Hornets had an immediate response.
Great Mills scored the last 11 points of the third quarter on buckets inside from Toyin Allen and from the outside from Alaina Bernich and Taylor Dean to take a 30-27 lead into the final frame. The Hornets promptly finished where they started from that point and the visitors pulled away from the Eagles for a 51-38 victory in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference crossover clash.
“At halftime, we only had 17 points and I wasn’t upset at that since they had 17, too,” Great Mills head coach Matt Wood said. “When we fell behind in the third quarter, we kept telling the girls to go back inside and get the ball to our bigs [Allen and Nakeya Hall]. That whole fourth quarter we played better defense and we got the ball inside.”
Hall had been relatively quiet through the first three quarters, getting a grand sum of two buckets inside. But she scored the Hornets’ nine points of the fourth quarter, then Leaire Livingston nailed a three-point field goal from the right corner to give the Hornets a 42-30 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
North Point got to within single digits only once during the remainder of the outing.
“We didn’t do a good job putting a body on their bigs inside,” North Point head coach Mike Serpone said. “We work on those things every day in practice. They had the size advantage and they got in position to rebound. We need a serious gut check at this point. We have too big a drop off from our starters to our bench.”
North Point guard Natalie Johnson has clearly evolved into the Eagles’ primary scoring threat since Latavia Jackson graduated last spring, opening the third quarter with a three-pointer and adding a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 24-17 lead.
When Adams connected on a three-pointer to make it 27-19 with five minutes left in the third, North Point appeared poised to end Great Mills’ unbeaten season. But the rest of the third quarter and much of the fourth belonged to the Hornets.
Allen made one layup then a pair of free throws then Bernich connected on a jumper and Dean followed with her lone three-pointer of the night to give Great Mills its first lead of the second half. Kyla Daniels ended the frame with a pair of free throws and the Hornets led 30-27.
Allen then dominated the paint in the fourth quarter, scoring her team’s first nine points of the frame. Livingston added two buckets minutes later and Daniels converted a conventional three-point play with 32.6 seconds remaining, then Allen nailed two more foul shots with 17.6 seconds left.
Great Mills essentially outscored North Point 32-11 over the last 13 minutes.
The Hornets look for their 13th straight win when they host Calvert at 6:30 tonight, while North Point travels to Lackey for a contest at 6 tonight.
“Our defense was definitely the key in the second half,” said Bernich, who made two three-pointers in the first half. “We made them shoot more from the outside and we go the ball inside to our bigs. I felt pretty confident with my shot tonight. This was the first time that we’ve beaten North Point since I’ve been playing. We know that we’ll probably see them again in the [SMAC] championship game.”