CATONSVILLE, Md. — As the final seconds ticked away in Saturday’s Maryland 4A girls’ basketball final, North Point senior Tasia Butler popped out of a white-padded folding chair on the sideline and edged toward the court.
The Waldorf school’s first state title virtually in hand, Butler was on the bench when the buzzer sounded on the third-ranked Eagles’ 62-56 victory over Baltimore Polytechnic. But the 6-foot-1 guard made sure to be among the first into a long-awaited victory celebration.
Butler met junior Ashley Henderson on the run at midcourt, lifting the 5-foot-3 guard into the air for a few joyful moments before both collapsed into a pile forming nearby. The Syracuse recruit capped her decorated career in style at UMBC’s RAC Arena, finishing with 24 points and seven rebounds.
After losing in the state semifinals the past two seasons, North Point became the first Southern Maryland Athletic Conference team to win a girls’ basketball title at the state’s largest classification and first Charles County state champion since 1987.
“We did it,” Butler said afterward. “I can honestly say I love this team. We made it to the top.”
North Point (27-0) had faced few real challenges to its perfect record this season, but that changed at the state tournament. The Eagles had to erase a nine-point deficit in Thursday’s overtime semifinal victory over Eleanor Roosevelt before Poly (22-6) battled them down the stretch Saturday.
The Lady Engineers slashed a 20-point deficit with a 23-6 run, pulling within 47-44 on a layup by junior Teira Pendleton with 4 minutes 32 seconds remaining.
North Point responded with the next nine points and sealed the victory from the free throw line.
Senior Chalise Greenwood provided the biggest blow in the run when she hit a three-pointer with 2:41 left to push the cushion to 10 points.
It was her team’s only three-pointer in the game.
Coach Michael Serpone was finally able to lift his starters with 26 seconds remaining and the lead in double digits.
“We like to make things interesting,” Serpone said. “They’re going to give me a small [heart attack] before I turn 31. We just needed to settle down.”
Butler sparked the burst that gave North Point breathing room. She was the only player on either team to hit a field goal in the second quarter and had 15 points by halftime.
North Point’s advantage grew to 41-21 on Butler’s layup two minutes into the third quarter before Poly’s surge. Junior Khaila Prather had seven points and 16 rebounds for the Eagles and Greenwood added 11 points.
“It was tough the last two years,” said Greenwood, one of five Eagles who have played in all four state tournament games in school history. “This is my last year, so I wanted to end it right with my team and we did.”