North Point ral­lies to win SMAC girls hoops ti­tle

Ea­gles rally to beat Chop­ti­con and win sev­enth SMAC girls hoops ti­tle since 2009

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY AJ MA­SON

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY AJ MA­SON

The North Point girls bas­ket­ball team claimed its sev­enth SMAC cham­pi­onship since 2009 af­ter de­feat­ing the vis­it­ing Chop­ti­con Braves 62-60 on Wed­nes­day night.

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