North Point rallies to win SMAC girls hoops title
Eagles rally to beat Chopticon and win seventh SMAC girls hoops title since 2009
North Point did not have an answer for Chopticon’s hot shooting and defensive pressure in the first half of Wednes- day night’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference girls basketball championship game.
The Braves started with an 18-4 lead by the end of the first quarter and went up by as many as 24 points early in the second quarter.
Led by senior guard Necole Hope, the Eagles were a dif- ferent team in the second half, rallying all the way back in the second half to edge Chopticon 62-60 en route to its seventh SMAC title since 2009.
North Point (20-3 overall) outscored Chopticon 38-26 in the second half spurred by fullcourt pressure on the defense and its fast break offense.
Wednesday’s contest was a rematch from last year’s SMAC title game where North Point won 48-47.
North Point got the top seed in the Class 4A East Region Section II bracket and will host the winner of Friday’s section quarterfinal matchup between fifth-seeded Broadneck and fourth-seeded South River at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“We picked up the intensity on defense in the second half,” North Point head coach Michael Serpone said. “We came out flat in the first quarter and didn’t execute offensively. Chopticon hit shots early, but we made adjustments in the second half and got the result that we wanted.”
With 25 seconds left in regulation, Hope nailed a pair of free throws to give the Eagles the eventual victory. The senior finished with a gamehigh 25 points, scoring 19 in the second half.
After North Point’s Camille Robinson missed the front end of a one-and-one at the free-throw line with nine seconds left, Chopticon senior guard Kyaira Priest had the ball deflected out of bounds while driving to the basket. However, with two seconds left, the Braves turned the ball over on the inbounds and North Point held on.
“Our freshmen picked it up big time tonight and for me I had to be leader on defense and get my teammates going,” said Hope, who hit five three-point- ers in the game and scored 11 points in the third quarter alone. “Defense wins games. It is just an amazing feeling to win the SMAC title and we stayed together as a family tonight.”
North Point was down 3424 at halftime and 46-36 late in the third before storming back to within 46-41 on five straight points by Hope to end the third.
“The biggest thing that [Necole] did tonight away from her
scoring was set screens to get her teammates open,” Serpone said. “And that was huge for us and a sign of maturity on her part.”
The Eagles tied the game at 46, but Chopticon took leads of 53-49 and 55-51, the latter coming with 2:05 remaining in the fourth.
North Point again tied the game at 58 and took its first lead of the game with 52 seconds left on a layup on a foul from senior Aliyah Bullock. Bullock fin- ished with 12 points and sophomore Latavia Jackson had 14 points. Senior guard Aryanna Hutcherson (13 points) tied the game up at 60 on a bucket with 45 seconds to go for Chopticon’s last points of the game.
Priest (team-high 18 points) and junior guard Sarah Sweeney, who scored all of her 11 points in the first half, combined for 22 of the Braves’ 34 first-half points.
Chopticon (20-3) was able to slow down North Point in the first half with a 3-2 zone, forcing numerous turnovers, and breaking the Eagles’ press steadily to score easy baskets.
After hitting six threes in the first half, Chopticon only hit one in the second half and ran out of gas in the end as North Point’s fast, athletic unit wore out the Braves’ attack.
“North Point started to attack the basket and got to the free-throw line and we missed a lot our shots in the second half,” Chopticon head coach Joe Cook said. “At the end we panicked and wasn’t aggressive in beat- ing their press and threw the ball away at times. We need to fix some things and get ready for playoffs.”
Chopticon has the sec- ond seed in the 4A East Section II bracket and hosts at 6 p.m. Monday in the section semifinals versus Friday’s section quarterfinal winner of sixth-seeded Annapolis at third-seeded Leonardtown. The Annapolis-Leonardtown matchup is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday.
If Leonardtown beats Annapolis, it will mark the fourth time the Raiders and Braves will match up this season with Chopticon having won the previous three.
Wins by the Eagles and Braves on Monday would set up rematch in the section final for Wednesday back at North Point.
North Point senior guard Aliyah Bullock drives baseline as Anna Reese of Chopticon defends in Wednesday night’s SMAC girls basketball championship game. Bullock scored 12 points in the Eagles’ come-from-behind 62-60 win.
The North Point girls basketball team claimed its seventh SMAC championship since 2009 after defeating the visiting Chopticon Braves 62-60 on Wednesday night.