The Northeast boys basketball team won its rivalry matchup with Chesapeake on January 4, so the Eagles get the headlines — for now.
Northeast hosts the Cougars for a rematch on February 8, and in the meantime, they’re navigating the rough realities of boys basketball in Anne Arundel County, where Broadneck has separated from the pack but parity otherwise rules and matchups are regularly close.
To wit: Northeast is 5-8 overall, just 2-6 in the county — not exactly setting the county on fire. But a closer look shows how thin the margins are in the battle for the county and playoff seeding. Northeast has wins over North County and Chesapeake, beating the Knights by eight and the Cougars by two. A pair of losses to perennial powers Meade on December 7 and Old Mill on January 11 came by just seven and eight points, respectively. Broadneck stretched out a 20-point win over the Eagles on January 8, and Annapolis ran away with a 90-60 victory in an uncharacteristically flat effort by Northeast on January 15, but the Eagles have the depth and firepower to hang with anyone on any given night.
The Eagles nearly dealt the Mustangs a blow in a rematch of both teams’ season opener on a Friday night at Meade on January 18, but the Mustangs clipped them for a 56-55 win. Jaylin Albury led Northeast with 12 points, 8 assists and 4 steals, while Brandon LeBarron had 11 points and Brennen Volkman had 8 points and 6 rebounds. Trent McNeill scored 7 points and had 3 assists, and Jaleel Petty came off the bench to hit his first two shots to finish with 5 points. Trenton Culley played a great game defensively with 3 steals, 4 blocked shots, 6 rebounds and 5 points, and Darrell Sheppard had good game defensively with 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 points. Keishon Thomas ended the game with 5 points in support.
“The boys really deserved a win tonight,” said head coach Roger O’Dea of the Eagles’ output against Meade. “It was a well-played game and a great team effort. There was a lot of energy from the starters and off the bench.”
The Eagles also have wins over Chesapeake Science Point, Reginald Lewis and Eastern Tech, and while they’re currently in the midst of the toughest part of the schedule, O’Dea is confident the team can continue to improve as it battles with Chesapeake, Stephen Decatur and J.M. Bennett for 3A East region playoff seeding.
“We’ve been in all these games. We’ve seen a lot of good things,” said O’Dea. “We have seniors, juniors and sophomores, and we have four sophomores getting significant time. We just have to bounce back and get back to practice. Decatur, Bennett, Chesapeake, all of us are right there mixed with each other. We can come out and play good defense and hit our shots.”
One way or another, the Eagles have early bragging rights on the Pasadena rivalry. In the win at Chesapeake, Northeast jumped out to a 17-0 lead, holding the Cougars scoreless in the first quarter, but they had to stave off a furious Chesapeake rally, and the game went down to the final seconds; it was Albury’s last-second game winner that lifted Northeast to the win. After Chesapeake’s Reed Rebstock hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 50-50 with less than nine seconds left, Albury drove the length of the floor and hit a five-foot floater to beat the buzzer and lift Northeast to 52-50 win.
“It was the perfect amount of time for me to get all the way up the floor, and once I got to half court, I knew I could take it all the way,” said Albury. “I just got the finger roll, and it went in. It felt good because it’s at Chesapeake, it’s our rival, and talking trash and stuff like that is always fun. I’m looking forward to the next game and hope to have the same outcome.”
Albury led all scorers with 21 points and added 5 assists and 3 steals. LeBarron had 15 points, hitting three 3-pointers; Volkman had 6 points and 7 rebounds; Sheppard had 4 points and 6 rebounds; Olimade Ajayi scored 3 points; and Thomas had 2 points and played excellent defense.
With a deep roster and multiple players contributing, Albury said the team has a good outlook on the rest of the season.
“From here we just have to improve, keep our head up, because the season is far from over, and we’ve got lots of practicing to do,” said Albury. “These next games are crucial and we should be able to win most of them.”
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