On the short end
Eagles lose battle inside and at the line against the Patriots
Throughout the course of last Thursday afternoon’s Waldorf Hol- iday Hoops girls basketball cham- pionship game between Old Mill of Anne Arundel County and host North Point, the Patriots sought to use their size advantage inside to offset the quickness of the Eagles.
Both teams found ways to uti- lize their strengths at times, but Old Mill eventually narrowly prevailed, 58-54, in the final of the twoday tournament. It was the third straight year in which North Point and Old Mill have met in the Hol- iday Hoops final, with the Patriots now claiming a 2-1 advantage in those meetings.
Old Mill (5-1) sophomore center Sydney Faulcon (6 foot 2) and senior center Rebecca Lee (6 foot 1) both loomed as imposing presenc- es from the outset against the small- er North Point (5-2) squad, which boasts a pair of 5 foot 11 players in senior Necole Hope and freshman Kennedy Davis. But the Patriots’ tandem of Faulcon and Lee occupied considerably more space in the paint which enabled Old Mill to get more second chance buckets and more free throw attempts.
“Their two big girls posed a real challenge,” said North Point coach Michael Serpone, whose team defeated Massaponax 63-48 in one tournament semifinal the day before, while Old Mill downed Thom- as Davis, 58-42, in the other semi. “If you don’t get a body on them, then they’re going to get the rebounds. They had a lot of second chances. Overall, I thought we played OK. We could have played better.”
Old Mill used a 7-0 run during the latter portion of the first quarter to gain a 12-5 lead, but the Eagles ended the drought when freshman guard Synia Johnson nailed a threepoint field goal wth 35 seconds left in the period to narrow the deficit to 12-8. Old Mill again pushed the lead to six points on three different occasions in the second quarter, but the Eagles drew even at halftime on two free throws from Hope and a basket and two free throws from senior guard Aliyah Bullock.
“It’s always an opportunity for us to get better when we play them,” said Hope, who led all scorers with 22 points in a losing cause. “Their big girls inside are definitely tough
to defend. You have to stay in front of them. If you don’t box out, then you end up reaching and picking up fouls.”
A similar scenario unfolded at the start of the second half as the Patriots opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run and eventually pushed the lead to 37-30 when Lee completed a conventional three-point play. But the Eagles again respond- ed with another late surge. Hope nailed a three-point field goal and later added a pair of free throws, as did sophomore guard Latavia Jackson which brought the Eagles within 42-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
Old Mill sophomore guard Destiny Galloway opened the final frame with a layup for a 44-39 lead, but three minutes later Hope connected on her second three-pointer of the half to bring the Eagles even at 46. Old Mill guard Brandi Hall sank four straight free throws to give the Patriots a 52-48 lead with 3:36 remaining and the Eagles could never draw even again, although they came close.
Over the last 150 seconds, Faulcon fouled out and then buckets by Hope, Bullock and Jackson brought the Eagles within two points on three different occasions. But Old Mill senior guard Alayshia Dailey sealed the verdict with two free throws with 7.5 seconds remaining.
“We had our chances,” Bullock said. “We just gave them too many chances. Their big girls are tough to defend. You can’t practice against something like that. We missed a lot of shots in the second half. I think we still have our goals. We want to win SMAC and get to states. I don’t think our goal is going to change.”
North Point senior guard Aliyah Bullock drives to the basket between Old Mill defenders Maya McBride, left, and Sydney Faulcon, right, in Thursday’s Waldorf Hoops Classic championship game that Bullocks Eagles lost 58-54.
North Point senior Necole Hope drives to the basket past a trio of Old Mill defenders in Thursday’s Waldorf Holiday Hoops Classic championship game. Hope scored 22 points in a losing cause as the Eagles fell to the Patriots 58-54.