In the final minute of the Maryland 4A East region final, an 89-64 North Point victory, senior point guard Marquis Wright slashed into the lane and missed a layup, but forward Matt Bonds swooped in to clean it up at the rim for an easy two points that pushed the lead to 20 points and brought a timeout to remove the starters from the floor. The win clinched the fourth-ranked Eagles’ third straight region title and landed them in a Thursday semifinal against 4A South champ Eleanor Roosevelt at Comcast Center.
Bonds’ effort above the rim was just one of several instances when the 6-foot-4 forward converted a North Point (24-1) miscue into a positive in Waldorf. Bonds dominated the paint to the tune of a game-high 26 points and 16 rebounds.
“I just wanted to fight and be scrappy as always,” Bonds said. “I knew I was going up against another good post player, so I wanted to show myself.”
The fourth-ranked Eagles suffocated Arundel (22-4) with their rapid-fire pressure system while Bonds had a double-double by the end of the first half.
Anthony Williams converted all seven of his fourth-quarter free throw attempts for the Eagles. The senior guard played pesky defense, scored 21 points and helped North Point seal the victory down the stretch.
The Eagles shot 80 percent from the free throw line in the second half.
“Anthony was clutch,” North Point Coach Jimmy Ball said. “A game like this, if we don’t hit our foul shots, we don’t win.”
The Eagles exploded out of the blocks with a 5-0 run in the first two minutes of play. Arundel’s Markus Oliphant answered with two points to try and swing the momentum, but on the ensuing possession Wright (12 points) dished a soaring lob pass to senior forward Daylin Davis, who punctuated the alley-oop with an audible slam.
The home crowd roared, and the pressure continued to take a toll on Arundel’s play. The Wildcats had several unforced turnovers on wild passes and failed inbounds plays.
North Point scored 27 points in the second quarter, and Arundel never got closer than 17 points after halftime.
Senior guard Keaton Mack was the lone bright spot for Arundel. After going scoreless in the first quarter, he finished with a team-high 16 points.
The Eagles, who won the state title two years ago, lost to eventual 4A champion Eleanor Roosevelt 65-63 in a thrilling state final last March.
But before thinking about a second championship, Ball was happy to savor the moment on Friday night.
“Unbelievable, unreal, one hell of an experience,” he said while his team cut down the nets at North Point’s gym. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to duplicate that ever again. This is a special group of players.”