By Savannah Brooks
As much as the Wildcats tried, no amount of their defense could stop North Point’s Natalie Johnson (Robert Morris University) and Analecia Hawkins. The duo fired three after three and floater after floater, responding to close-outs and hands in their faces with the seasoned air of two seniors with a lost season to make up for to lead North Point to a 60-52 win Monday night.
Johnson (19 pts) and Hawkins (20 pts) weren’t the only seniors looking to make an impact – Arundel’s Heather Middleton finished with 23 points (14 more than Arundel’s second-highest scorer) and 13 rebounds. Middleton did what she does best throughout all four quarters – she created her own shot, most of her points coming from getting her own offensive rebounds and dribbling around North Point’s defenders. It wasn’t enough to make up for Arundel’s faults, however. The home team got off to a sloppy start, seeing multiple turnovers from bad passes and North Point’s senior Tayloni Ricks (11 pts) scoring with three Arundel defenders guarding her in the first minute of the game before head coach Lee Rogers called a timeout. Even once Middleton found her groove, knocking down elbow jumpshots with ease, Arundel just couldn’t catch up to North Point’s smooth and experienced play. Johnson was seemingly unguardable throughout the game – she put on a masterclass on three-point shooting, finishing in traffic, and even finding her post player (usually Ricks) for the layup. Even with Middleton’s skill driving Arundel forward, they just couldn’t match up.
“Everybody’s just got to work together,” Middleton said when reflecting on the loss. “We need five players – not just one or two.”
This problem, in part, could be explained by Arundel’s low turnout this year – only 21 players tried out and, at the time of Monday’s game, they only had seven suit up for varsity. While North Point subbed almost their entire five out two or three times a quarter, Arundel barely made subs (Middleton hardly saw any time off the floor). Every emphatic possession or defensive go by Arundel (senior Nyla Laniyonu had a powerful block in the fourth quarter and Middleton had two in a row) was usually followed by slow travel back up the court – breakaways became less and less common as the game went on with so little subs, and the gap between the two teams grew larger and larger until the Eagles finished the game leading by 12.
“We want to work hard together and play together,” Middleton lamented. “We’re going to get back and practice and just keep working hard.”
Arundel’s schedule can be found on arundelathletics.com.