No. 19 Northwestern gave fifth-ranked High Point all it could handle for 2 1/2 periods last night. But the hustling Eagles got themselves together long enough to build a comfortable lead and walk away with an 84-66 triumph in a Prince George's 4A first-place showdown before a full house at High Point.

The high-scoring Eagles (12-0 overall, 8-0 league), who had scored 104, 107 and 117 points in their last three games, never got in complete synch. They missed open shots, free throws, threw away the ball and allowed the determined Wildcats (9-3, 7-1) to stay close.

Northwestern trailed by only 33-32 after holding High Point to its lowest first-half total of the season. Eagles errors and bad bounces allowed Northwestern to take a three-point lead in the third quarter. An inside basket by sophomore Derrick Newton gave the Wildcats their final lead at 44-43 with just under three minutes left in the period.

High Point, which made 44 percent of its shots, missed three straight before Sherwyn Devonish scored on a breakaway and Wayne Bristol hit two three-pointers to stake the hosts to a 52-45 lead at the end of the quarter.

"When I'm open, I'm going to shoot them," said Bristol, who made another three-pointer in the last period and finished with 22 points. "We just kept attacking and doing what we do best."

Most of the Wildcats' problems increased when they tried to play an up-tempo game. Northwestern has scored more than 66 only four times this season.

Rawle White (25 points), Dayal Williams, Carl Davonish and Bristol took advantage of the Wildcats' fatigue by scoring mostly on inside baskets and free throws as the lead swelled to 12 points.

"They wanted to play at a lower tempo than we did," High Point Coach Ernie Welch said. "We played poorly in the second period {scoring 12 points} but we still scored 84 points for the game. Even when we weren't scoring, we kept the tempo up and made them work. We have to worry about size so we wanted to make their big guys foul. The defense we play is designed to create offense."N (7-3) -- Cannon 16, Jones 6, Boyd 8, Batts 9, Johnson 10, Newton 6, Giles 2, Hamer 9. Totals 30 6 66. HP (8-2) -- Bristol 22, S. Devonish 6, C. Devonish 12, Williams 5, Whyte 25, H. Baker 3, Johnson 6, C. Baker 5. Totals 32 17 84.

Halftime: High Point, 33-32.

Three-point goals: High Point 3 (Bristol 3).