Just how high has Coach Rashida Muhammad raised the bar at Northrop?
Last year, a 13-win campaign felt like a down season for the Bruins, yet it was just the third time in the last seven years that the team had finished with double-digit victories.
Graduation gutted the roster entering 2018-19, and without enough girls to even field a junior varsity team, many players were thrust into roles on the varsity level they weren’t ready for.
Despite that, Northrop finished with a winning record for the third straight year and has now won 48 games in three seasons with Muhammad at the helm.
“Last year we were really good at times and then other times would fall off,” Muhammad said. “The two South Side games come to mind where that happened, as well as the sectional game against Carroll.”
Despite just a single senior in Treva Datcher and one junior, the Bruins finished 13-10 and advanced to the sectional title game against the Chargers.
Now, Datcher and her team-high 13.5 points per game are gone. Yet plenty of production remains. Juniors TiAuna White (12.1 ppg, 6.4 rebounds per game, Top 50 Girls Hoops #25) and Destiny Jackson (11.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, Top Girls Hoops #17) will be two of the leading candidates to step up in Datcher’s absence. Both had superb sophomore campaigns last year and have been through the grind of the SAC season.
Also back is another double-digit scorer in sophomore J’Asia Scott (Top 50 Girls Hoops #47), who scored 10 points per game and added 4.2 rebounds per contest.
“We feel our top-scoring girls can do a lot for us,” Muhammad said. “We are really confident in them.”
The trio will have plenty of help from the likes of juniors Jasmine Perry, Sirennity Bragg and Kayla Warfield. Sophomore Amanda Thatcher will also take a step forward in production, much the way older sister Arielle did during her development in the Bruin program.
While Muhammad believes she has the offensive weapons to compete in the SAC, the defense is a work in progress. It isn’t glamorous, but defensive stops are as essential as points on the scoreboard when it comes to trying to beat the best in the league and in 4A. That has been the point of emphasis in the preseason.
“We can’t just be tough on one end of the court,” Muhammad said. “We have to have that pride in the defense.”
Depth has also increased. The Bruins will have a junior varsity team this year as numbers increase, as they should with how much Muhammad has taken this program and raised it to new heights.
The next goal? Earning a sectional title, something Northrop hasn’t done since 2009.
With the group Muhammad has this year, that goal could very well be achievable.
The Bruins bring back their entire roster outside of Treva Datcher, who did lead the team in scoring a year ago. It was easy to see the amount of talent Northrop had on the floor last year, but it was still learning how to play together and felt out of sync for much of the year.
Those kinks should be worked out this year, and another 20-win season is attainable.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
Is Northrop ready to be on the level of a South Side or a Homestead in the SAC? At this point, we don’t really know. The Bruins very well could be, but will need to prove it on the court.
DEC. 20 VS. SOUTH SIDE
An early-holiday treat for girls basketball fans will take place at Northrop on Dec. 20. The Bruins played the Archers tough for awhile in a pair of losses last year – once in the regular season and once in the SAC Holiday Tournament. Has another year of seasoning for a young Northrop roster closed the gap with the Archers? Time to show out on the home floor.
DESTINY JACKSON, JUNIOR
After coming about one rebound per game short of averaging a double double, Jackson proved a lot in her sophomore campaign last year. Back as one of Northrop’s primary scoring options again, Jackson’s dominance in the paint could be reality in her junior campaign. Cleaning up misses close to the hoop and finishing is huge when it comes to girls high school basketball. Is Jackson that player for the Bruins?