As No. 6 North Point and rival Thomas Stone traded turnovers during a sloppy first few minutes on Friday, Eagles Coach Jimmy Ball wasn’t the least bit surprised. Just before tip-off, he had watched seniors shed tears and share laughs in commemoration of their final regular season game at home, each story injecting a dose of adrenaline.
Following a quick timeout, North Point channeled its energy into efficiency, reeling off 15 unanswered points to take command en routeto an 84-74 victory in Waldorf. The win moves North Point (19-1, 10-0) into sole possession of first place in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference standings.
Thomas Stone falls to 14-6, 9-1.
“We came out so hyped up because of senior night, so after that timeout, we realized we needed to settle things down and just play basketball,” said senior Matt Bonds, who finished with a team-high 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles’ early run opened up a 22-6 lead after one quarter. Following a brief surge by the Cougars to open the second period, Anthony Williams helped keep North Point in control. The senior guard drained two of his three three-pointers and forced Thomas Stone into a handful of turnovers with his aggressive play on defense.
“We lost Steven Cole the other night to a badly sprained ankle, and Anthony really stepped up,” Ball said. “He sparked our defense and hit some key threes.”
Still, the Cougars weren’t daunted by their 17-point halftime deficit. Jourdan Lamberth (19 points) and Tony Doublin (13 second-half points) helped chip away at North Point’s lead with sound shooting and scrappy play. The Eagles, meanwhile, struggled to convert on the foul line, missing 24 of their 39 attempts.
“Man, those free throws were frustrating,” Bonds said. “We were rushing them.”
A similar urgency on the boards would help make the ultimate difference. Twenty eight of the Eagles’ 53 rebounds came on the offensive glass, leading to second-chance baskets while squelching several Thomas Stone rallies.
“At the end, we attacked the boards and got some key putbacks to make up for missing those free throws,” said Muhammad, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. “Tonight was a special night and I think it was good for us to get challenged as we get ready for the playoffs.”