North Point girls cruise past South River
Eagles prepared for rematch with Chopticon in 4A East Section II final tonight
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.”