Fresh start

North Point boys surge past Hur­ri­canes to open sea­son

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

Typ­i­cally when a new boys bas­ket­ball sea­son be­gins, the ex­pec­ta­tion is that the North Point Ea­gles will be a ma­jor fac­tor in the South­ern Mar yland Ath­letic Con­fer­ence race.

Whereas that could prove to again be the case, it isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a typ­i­cal year at the sea­son’s start for the Ea­gles.

“We have one re­turn­ing starter, one re­turn­ing ro­ta­tion guy and 13 new guys,” North Point head coach Jimmy Ball said af­ter the Ea­gles’ sea­son opener on Mon­day night. “We have to find a way to take what we have and make it hap­pen.”

On Mon­day against the vis­it­ing Hunt­ing­town Hur­ri­canes, the Ea­gles were able to do just that, over­com­ing an eight-point half­time deficit to top their guests 73-66 in the SMAC crossover con­test.

Ma­lik Lawrence sparked the se­cond-half surge, scor­ing 13 points in the third quar­ter to lead North Point from a 29-21 half­time deficit to a 48-43 lead by quar­ter’s end. In the fourth, Jalen

Gibbs took charge, scor­ing 13 points over the fi­nal eight minutes to help the hosts nail down the sea­son-open­ing win.

“Coach was on our butt when we got in the locker room,” said Gibbs, who fin­ished with a game-high 26 points. “I had a bad first half, so I was just think­ing, ‘I have to get to the hole,’ be­cause I couldn’t hit any out­side shots. Ma­lik started off the in­ten­sity. We fed off his en- ergy.”

North Point (1-0 over­all) opened the third quar­ter on a 7-2 run to im­me­di­ately carve into the Hunt­ing­town ad­van­tage. It wasn’t un­til a three­p­oint play by Gibbs with 3

minutes 53 sec­onds left in the pe­riod that the Ea­gles fi­nally pulled back even at 37, while a Gibbs dunk 16 sec­onds later put North Point in front 39-37.

Hunt­ing­town (0-1) evened things back up on Jordan Bell’s bucket, but Ter­rence Gun­thrope hit 1 of 2 free throws to put the hosts back up 40-39 be­fore Lawrence knocked down a three-pointer and scored an ad­di­tional bas­ket to push the Ea- gles back out to a 45-39 edge.

Hunt­ing­town, on a pair of free throws by Nemo Ste­wart and a bas­ket by DJ Hop­kins, pulled back to 45-43, but Lawrence’s three-pointer at the buzzer left the Ea­gles with a 48-43 edge head­ing into the fi­nal frame.

“Se­cond half, we came out fast,” said Lawrence, who fin­ished with 22 points. “We were

hyped up and ready. We ac­tual- ly got a good ro­ta­tion with our bench play­ers and we kept the flow go­ing. We strug­gled a lit- tle bit de­fen­sively, which we’ll work on in prac­tice to­mor­row, but over­all we fin­ished the game well and came out with a vic­tory.”

While the hosts pushed the lead out to 11 points on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions, Hunt­ing­town con­sis­tently ral­lied to pull back to within a cou­ple pos­ses­sions. But ul­ti­mately the Hur­ri­canes were never able to fin­ish the climb back.

“We have to play a full game,” Hunt­ing­town head coach Josh Pratt said. “I think the first five minutes of the third quar­ter, we held them to 21 points at half­time, and I thought we did a great job de­fen­sively. Then we

lost our in­ten­sity. Some of that might have been their pres­sure, but I just think we lost focus for about five minutes. ... We just have to learn from it and get bet­ter from it. The best thing is we play Wed­nes­day and Fri­day, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Daquan Watts scored 15 points to lead the Hur­ri­canes on Mon­day night, while Davaughn Reid scored 14. DJ Hop­kins scored 12, while Char­lie We­ber also hit dou­ble dig­its with 10. The Hur­ri­canes are sched­uled to host Thomas Stone tonight and travel to St. Charles on Fri­day. Both games are slated to tip at 6:30.

On the other bench, Gun­thrope joined Gibbs and Law- rence in dou­ble fig­ures for the Ea­gles with 10 points,

while Satchell Ball chipped in with nine points on three three-poin­t­ers. North Point is sched­uled to travel to Chop­ti­con at 6:30 tonight and will host Gwynn Park at 7 p.m. Fri­day.

North Point may be smaller and less ex­pe­ri­enced than the av­er­age Ea­gles squad has been in re­cent years, but Ball is look­ing for the team to make con­sis­tent progress as the sea­son un­folds.

“As long as we play hard, play ag­gres­sive, I told them it’s a process,” he said. “We’ll take our lumps at the be­gin­ning, but by the of the year hope­fully ... We haven’t won a re­gional cham­pi­onship in three years, so that’s a goal. We’re small, so we’re go­ing to have to fight, scratch and claw.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES

North Point’s Ma­lik Lawrence scored 22 points, 13 com­ing in the third quar­ter, to help the Ea­gles to a 73-66 sea­son-open­ing win over the vis­it­ing Hunt­ing­town Hur­ri­canes on Mon­day night.

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