Boys’ basketball: North Point pulls away from Thomas Stone in 75-60 win

The biannual meetings between Thomas Stone and North Point are always one of the biggest games on the docket for the Charles County rivals — and in recent years, they’ve been dominated by the Eagles.

But after graduating nine seniors from last year’s Maryland 4A state finalist team, North Point entered Tuesday’s matchup with the Cougars with a little something to prove.

Known for their up-tempo attack, the Eagles played a less than perfect game but pulled away late to stay unbeaten with a 75-60 win in Waldorf. North Point (3-0, 3-0 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) has now won six of its last seven meetings with Thomas Stone.

“We’ve been talking about this is a process,” Eagles Coach Jimmy Ball said. “We’ve got a whole new group. It’s going to take a while. We’re still not catching the ball and running offense the way we should, and we got flustered at times.”

North Point, which averaged more than 92 points per game with an experienced lineup last winter, struggled to find its rhythm. Despite drawing frequent fouls, the Eagles shot just 57 percent from the free throw line.

Six-foot-four sophomore forward Malik Brown was a high point in the victory, posting 16 points and accounting for the bulk of the Eagles’ interior rebounds Senior point guard Ochae Dejene, who has stepped into void left by former All-Met Marquis Wright (Siena) added 17 points.

“Brown played ball,” Ball said. “He was scoring inside, doing the things we expected him to do all week.”

With the score tied at 14 after the opening quarter, the Eagles picked up the pace to take a 35-30 lead into the half. North Point’s pressure eventually took a toll on the Cougars (3-2, 2-2), as the Eagles outscored their rivals 22-13 in the fourth quarter.

“Our intensity and our pressure was the difference,” Dejene said of the final quarter. “We were talking about how we just had to pick it up.”

Jordan Battle led the Cougars with 12 points while speedy senior guard Jalen Houchins added nine points.

“It’s going to take time. Our defense has to work on not letting our opponent score that many points, and if we do that our offense will take care of itself,” Brown said. “We still haven’t played to our full potential yet. We’ve got to pick it up on defense.”

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