North County's image as the county's giant-killer got a bit tarnished last night at Calvert Hall.
The upset-minded Knights, who debuted at No. 16 in The Sun's Top 20 poll this week after defeating then-No. 6 Annapolis last Wednesday for the first time ever, proved no match for the fifth-ranked Cardinals.
Eleven players scored for Calvert Hall, which opened up a 29-point lead in the third quarter before coasting to a 78-52 victory.
Six-foot-6 center Patrick Ngonga led the Cardinals with 17 points and North County's Chris Salmon led all scorers with 19.
"I still think we can play with anybody," said Knights coach Brad Wilson, who has had to shuffle his lineup since losing some players to academic ineligibility.
"We didn't play well tonight and Calvert Hall is a very good basketball team. We lost a couple of kids to grades, but that's no excuse, we still have to play basketball. We just didn't get it done tonight."
The Cardinals, who compete in the highly competitive Catholic League, lived off the fast break throughout most of the first half.
The Knights managed to pull to within 15-10 when Derek Booth was awarded a basket for goaltending, but that was as close as the visitors would get.
North County (11-7) escaped the first quarter trailing by only nine and the Knights pulled to within five again early in the second quarter after a long jumper by Cornelius Burley (10 points) and a steal and a layup by Corey Wright.
Just when the Knights thought they were making some progress, Calvert Hall scored 13 straight points to take a 36-18 lead with 4:08 left in the half.
Salmon picked up half of his six rebounds in the closing seconds of the first half and his efforts enabled the Knights to stay within striking distance, 38-25, at the half.