North Point girls cruise past South River

Ea­gles pre­pared for re­match with Chop­ti­con in 4A East Sec­tion II fi­nal tonight

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

In their quest to get back to the Class 4A state semi­fi­nals, the North Point High School girls bas­ket- ball team has em­pha­sized de­fen­sive in­ten­sity in the post­sea­son.

Mon­day evening, the Ea­gles de­fense was su­perb as North Point rolled to a 69-33 vic­tory over vis­it­ing South River of Anne Arun­del County in a 4A East Re­gion Sec­tion II semi­fi­nal.

North Point (21-3), the top seed in the sec­tion, ad­vanced to host sec- ond-seeded Chop­ti­con in the sec­tion champi- on­ship game, sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day. The Braves over­came a two-point half­time deficit to up­end Leonard­town, 51-35, in an­other sec­tion semi­fi­nal on Mon­day.

Wed­nes­day’s con­test will be a re­match from last Wed­nes­day’s South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game in which North Point ral­lied from an early 27-5 hole to top­ple Chop­ti­con, 62-60.

Mon­day evening, North Point vaulted to a com­fort­able early lead against fourth-seeded South River — which got past fifth-seeded Broad­neck of Anne Arun­del 38-35 to reach Mon­day’s sec­tional semi­fi­nals — and the Ea­gles never looked back.

North Point jumped

to a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quar­ter, then opened the sec­ond quar­ter on a 13-0 run. With the Ea­gles up 30-6, North Point’s de­fense had forced more turnovers (16) than the Sea­hawks had pro­duced in points.

“For us, it all starts with our de­fense,” North Point head coach Mike Ser­pone said. “We put a lot of em­pha­sis in prac­tice ev­ery day on de­fense. We were able to keep them from run­ning their of­fense by at­tack­ing their guards in the back­court. We kept up the pres­sure, even in the sec­ond half.”

North Point not only pre­vailed cour­tesy of de­fen­sive pres­sure that forced 19 turnovers in the first half and 26 for the game, the Ea­gles also dis­played plenty of abil­ity from long range. Sy­nia John­son opened the game with a three-point field goal and the Ea­gles’ Latavia Jack­son, Al­liyah Bul­lock and Necole Hope added three-point­ers in the sec­ond.

“Re­ally, our main fo­cus was on de­fense,” Hope said. “De­fense wins cham­pi­onships and our de­fense was re­ally good tonight. Even in the sec­ond half we kept up the in­ten­sity. We’re look­ing for­ward to play- ing Chop­ti­con [on Wed­nes­day evening]. The last game they got off to a fast start be­cause we didn’t play good de­fense and they hit a lot of shots from the out­side.”

Bul­lock, who added an­other three-pointer in the fourth quar­ter, also ad­mit­ted that the Ea­gles de­fense was key to over- tak­ing the Sea­hawks on Mon- day. Like Hope, Bul­lock is also ea­ger to see how well North Point does against Chop­ti­con on Wed­nes­day.

“Our de­fense has been re­ally good all sea­son,” Bul­lock said. “We knew they had one good ball-han­dler and we wanted to do what­ever we could to pres- sure her. It should be a good game against Chop­ti­con. Last week when we played them we didn’t do a good job chal­leng­ing their shoot­ers early. We have to do a bet­ter job guard­ing their out­side shoot­ers.”

South River se­nior Brooke Blevins scored all six of the Sea­hawks’ points in the first quar- ter and her team’s first bucket of the sec­ond quar­ter. She had 10 of the vis­i­tors’ 14 points at the in­ter­mis­sion. But Blevins was no match for the bal­anced at­tack of the Ea­gles, who opened the sec­ond quar­ter on a 13-0 run on three-point­ers from Jack­son and Bul­lock and layups from Jack­son, John­son and Kennedy Davis.

South River (12-11) only man- aged six points in the third quar­ter, one that North Point ended on a 9-0 run over the last five min­utes. Af­ter Ash­lyn Bur­rows scored a layup for the Sea­hawks, North Point got two buck­ets from Hope and one each from Nyah Ge­orge and Bul­lock, en­abling the Ea­gles to forge a com­mand­ing 54-20 lead head­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

“We prac­tice de­fense a lot in prac­tice,” Ge­orge said. “Our de­fen­sive in­ten­sity is the key to win­ning. We didn’t do a good job play­ing de­fense in the first quar­ter against Chop­ti­con last week. We have to do a bet­ter job at­tack­ing their shoot­ers and chal­leng­ing their shots [on Wed­nes­day]. But it should be an­other great game.”

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