For the North Point girls’ basketball team, the past three seasons have built toward this week.
After losses in the state semifinals the last two years, the Eagles won their third straight Maryland 4A East title Friday with a 71-47 win against South River, and at 25-0, enter the Maryland 4A tournament as the favorite to win the team’s first state championship.
The Eagles were blown out by Gaithersburg in the semifinal two years ago, and lost a two-point game to Wise last year, but with those perennial powers out of the picture this year, North Point is finally the team to beat.
“The first time we made it we punched above our weight, and last year we felt like we were right up there and had a great shot to win and it just didn’t happen,” North Point Coach Mike Serpone said. “This year I’ve got a few seniors that understand [the situation], and they’re going to make sure that the last two [semifinal results] have nothing to do with this year.”
South River (22-4) was only the third team all season to even threaten North Point, as senior guard Bre Bolden (26 points) kept the Seahawks close early and North Point led just 22-21 at halftime.
But Eagles standout Tasia Butler finished with 33 points — including 16 from the free-throw line — and North Point dominated in the second half of the 24-point win.
“If we play the way that we can, things will work themselves out,” Serpone said. “We came back in the second half and they worked themselves out.”
Maryland 4A South champion Eleanor Roosevelt (24-1) will be North Point’s opponent in the 4A semifinal Thursday at 5 p.m. at UMBC, and the Raiders certainly will be one of the toughest opponents North Point has faced so far this season.
But after reaching the state tournament the past two years as underdogs, the Eagles feel like they are ready to take that stage in their new role as the favorite.
“It’s added pressure, but the kids know it, they’ve heard it, so it’s not new to them,” Serpone said. “It’s just a matter of us being focused.”