North Harford has made great progress since last season when the Hawks finished with a 1-18 record.
The Hawks were 7-1 heading into last night's Harford County League matchup with perennial power Aberdeen, which North Harford coach Spike Griffith called as the Hawks' big test.
"Everyone wants to see what we do against Aberdeen this Friday," Griffith said earlier in the week. "They all want to see just how far we've come."
The Hawks have come a long way, but the visiting Eagles showed them just how far they still have to go as they controlled the offensive boards en route to an 89-67 victory last night in Pylesville.
Aberdeen's 6-foot-6 junior center, Gabe Neal, proved to be the difference, finishing with a game-high 26 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Said Griffith: "We had nothing to stop No. 20 [Neal] inside."
Senior guards Jimmy Greene and Doug Bishop added 17 and 16 points, respectively, for the Eagles. Greene also chipped in seven steals and six assists, and Bishop had six steals.
"We don't underestimate anybody, we just come in and play hard and that's all we do," said Neal, who transferred to Aberdeen this year from Germany. "This is a very good North Harford team. They wanted to win just like us and they played a hard game. I had to work for everything I got."
Both teams came out running in the first quarter and four blocks by Neal helped Aberdeen maintain a narrow lead over the hosts.
The Eagles (7-3, 4-0), who commited eight first-quarter turnovers, took a 14-10 when Greene stole a pass at midcourt and fed Bishop for the easy layup.
The Hawks managed to tie the score at 14 with 2:11 left in the first quarter on a short jumper by Brock Jourdan (19 points), but another steal and layup by Greene and a follow at the buzzer by Martel Ware gave the visitors a 20-16 lead heading into the second period.
The Hawks (7-2), missed a pair uncontested layups early in the second quarter and Aberdeen capitalized. A one-handed follow by Bishop put the Eagles ahead by 10 with 5:41 left in the half.
North Harford cut the lead to four on back-to-back baskets by dTC senior Nick Piotrowski (20 points) but the Eagles picked up the tempo down the stretch, created turnovers and led by a dozen at the half, 40-28.
"We played well tonight, I don't care what the score is or what people say," said Griffith.
"We're proud of our team and we have nothing to be ashamed of. There's no use hanging our heads."