North Point High School will boast one of the younger starting girls basketball squads in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference this winter with five sophomores led by returning starters, Analecia Hawkins and Natalie Johnson, both looking to help fill some of the void left behind by graduating senior Latavia “Tay” Jackson.
Although outsiders might brand the Eagles as a young team, Eagles head coach Mike Serpone has not scaled back his expectations for the squad despite what he saw in a Monday night scrimmage at Arundel.
“I know we have five sophomore starters, but four of them were on varsity last year,” Serpone said after watching his Eagles battle with the host Wildcats in a contest that featured five eight-minute quarters. “Being young is not an excuse to play like we did. I was surprised at the drop-off. We played really well in a round-robin scrimmage we had last week with five other teams, but tonight we did not do a lot of things well.”
Although a general cumulative score was not kept, the two squads finished four quarters of play tied then clashed in an eight-minute “overtime” session.
“Being young is not an excuse to play like we did,” said Serpone, whose first contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at home versus SMAC foe Calvert. The Cavaliers were 15-9 overall last season and reached the Class 2A South Region championship. “It’s going to be an interesting film session [on Tuesday]. We gave up a lot of second-chance baskets, we didn’t take charges and we made too many mistakes. If we play like that, it’s going to be a long year.”
Hawkins. who also played soccer for the school in the fall both seasons, was not as pessimistic as her coach upon heading to the bus to depart Arundel on Monday, but she could clearly sense that Serpone was not pleased with the Eagles performance.
“We definitely have to work on defense,” said Hawkins, nicknamed “Cookie” by her mom, Nicole Hawkins. “Our offense is based on how well we play defense. We have to do a better job of rebuilding and communicating. I think we’re going to catch a lot of teams by surprise, since a lot of teams think we’re young and not going to be as good as previous years.”
North Point opened the scrimmage with Arundel in sharp fashion and led through most of the first eight-minute quarter.
But after scoring 18 points in the first frame, the Eagles production dropped off over the next three and managed only one bucket and two free throws in the fifth, played under a running clock. Serpone viewed the dip in offense as a result of the team’s lackluster defensive effort.
“We gave up 22 or 23 offensive rebounds,” Serpone said. “When your opponent gets that many second chances, it’s tough to run your offense. This looked like a completely different team from the one that played in the scrimmages last week. It was a big step back. Our goals are still the same — we want to make a push for the [3A] title. These girls have plenty of varsity experience. Being young is not an excuse for how we played.”
The Calvert contest is the first of three games next week for North Point. The Eagles will finish the week by taking part in the She Got Game Classic at The St. James complex in Springfield, Virginia. They will take on Bethel Park of Pennsylvania on Dec. 13, then North Catholic, also of Pennsylvania, the following day.