By Brennan Waldorf
There was another exciting night of Eastern Shore basketball last Thursday in Eastville when Northampton hosted the Arcadia Firebirds. The Firebirds edged the Jackets at home in their first meeting back in December, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half. They then beat the Jackets in Oak Hall on Jan. 7, both victories separated by a narrow margin of 4 total points. This time the Firebirds entered Eastville on Senior Night and the Jackets were ready for revenge.
Before the game started, Northampton recognized and honored seniors Jeremiah Major, Vonte Coston, Brian Fisher, Erionte Harmon, and Ahmad Scarborough who will all be retiring after the season.
The tipoff was won by Northampton, but a forced turnover put the ball in Arcadia’s hands and a put-back basket by Lethon Williams gave Arcadia its first and only lead of the night. The Jackets started out aggressive on offense, with Vonte Coston knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to set the tone right away. Arcadia struggled on offense as the Jackets double-teamed William Scarborough at midcourt as often as possible cutting off passes. Arcadia was slightly off in the first with both passes and shots, often watching the ball circle around the hoop and then fall out. Arcadia’s passes were slightly high and off the mark, and the Jackets took advantage, pushing the court with outlet passes and driving the lane to suddenly stop and hit pull-up jumpers. The Jackets went on a 19-point run only allowing 1 point to the Firebirds at the end of the quarter. Ahmad Scarborough hit several jump shots and delivered several dimes to teammate Brayden Washington, who was the quarter’s leader ending with 11 points.
The second quarter saw a pick up in Arcadia’s offense. Jaden Hope jumpstarted the offense with a baseline drive, getting a basket to go after double-clutching against several interior defenders. Northampton never let of the gas though, even with a big lead, as Quincy Washington went coast-to-coast on the next scoring possession. The Jackets knew that Arcadia is a second-half team and piled in as many points as possible. Ahmad Scarborough was exceptional through the half, taking charge and dishing the ball to teammates while also hitting a fast break dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The half ended with Northampton up big 47-31
The Firebirds are widely known as a dangerous second-half team with a lot of athleticism and if you sleep on them, they’re bound to run the score up and turn the game in their favor. Northampton had already been scorned by the Firebirds’ offense twice this year and were not willing to let it happen again. The Jackets started the half with good ball movement, finding Coston open for another open three. A couple plays later the Jackets’ Quincy Washington had back-to-back layups followed by a and-1 layup from Coston. With the Jackets up big 64-37, rotations changed as coach Wayne Bell knew he was going to keep players fresh to weather the offensive storm that Arcadia creates in the second half. With 3:50 remaining, the Firebirds’ offensive storm began. On defense they caused turnovers and Lethon Williams went to work. Williams hustled on defense and converted turnovers to points, scoring 10 in the quarter and closing the gap to 65-54.
The fourth quarter started with the Jackets smallest lead since the start of the game and momentum in the Firebirds’ favor, after Kamron Downing had a put-back floater in the lane. The Jackets had blown leads in the past but not on this night. They continued to push the pace and attacked the baskets with fast breaks and outlet passes, keeping a safe distance from Arcadia. The Firebirds desperately needed something to go their way but were unfortunate as they looked to the 3. Their shots would not fall and defensive rebounds by Northampton were quickly converted by Brayden Washington and company. Northampton outscored Arcadia 25-11 in the fourth and cruised to 90-66 victory over the district leader.
Northampton finished with four players in double digits. Vonte Coston led in scoring with 24 points, six assists, and two steals. Bradyn Washington followed with 23 points, Ahmad Scarborough added 16 points, eight assists, and five steals. Quincy Washington concluded with 16 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Jeremiah Major led in rebounding with 8 and two blocks.
Arcadia’s Lethon Williams finished with 23 points, followed by William Scarborough with 13. Jaden Hope and Kameron Downing each finished with 9.