These days, holding the Annapolis boys basketball team under 100 points is a victory in itself -- not much of one, of course, but a small triumph nonetheless.
Severna Park managed to keep Annapolis under the century mark Friday night, with a little assistance from the visitors themselves, who held the ball in the fourth quarter to milk time off the clock and test the Falcons' patience defensively. But the Panthers had already broken open a close game in the third quarter en route to another lopsided victory, 87-65.
A pair of Bob Evans free throws had pulled Severna Park even, 34-34, with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left in the second quarter. But reserve sophomore guard Marvin Brown keyed a 10-1 run by netting the final six points to close the half, and the defending 4A state champions eventually pulled away.
The Panthers were without the county's leading scorer, Dennis Edwards, who is averaging 35 points a game. Coach John Brady refused to disclose why Edwards did not accompany the team to Severna Park, and added that he did not know when the senior forward would return.
"One player being down at other schools might affect them, but not at Annapolis," Brady said. "Annapolis' basketball tradition has never been built on one player."
Senior newcomer Richard Naylor thrived as a replacement for Edwards, scoring 21 points, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds and blocking five shots.
"He did an excellent job," Brady said. "He really hasn't had much game time. He did good things."
Naylor preferred to talk about the entire team's performance, saying, "We hustled well on the press, played good defense and crashed the boards hard."
So what else is new? Well, the Panthers did turn to a perimeter passing game for most of the final quarter, which began with them comfortably ahead, 69-52. This, from a team that began the night averaging 98 points a game.
"They were basically playing a soft defense, counting on us missing jump shots and getting the ball back. We weren't going to do that," Brady said.
"We wanted them to come out and play hard defense on us, and then we were going to attack the basket."
Severna Park coach Wayne Mook had tinkered with his offense this season in hopes of becoming more competitive with the Panthers. But the Falcons' version of the "run-and-stun" offense has not met with quite the same success, which hardly surprises the 10th-year coach.
The Falcons now are 1-3 overall, 0-2 in the 4A League's Bay Division.
Annapolis, which had scored at least 90 points in its first three games, is 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Bay Division.
"We told them going into the season that putting in a new system like this was going to take some time," Mook said. "John would tell you the same thing when he put his in last year. You're going to see a little quicker results from John than you will us, because he's got the talent. For us, it's a total change of thinking for our kids."
Severna Park was hampered by turnovers Friday, committing 23 in the first half and 37 overall.
"We turned the ball over too many times. Case closed," Mook said.
"Annapolis is going to try and force you into things. But a lot of times, I don't think it was so much them putting pressure on us as we being lackadaisical, throwing the ball all over the place."
Brady's switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense to start the second half had much to do with the miscues.
"We know what we wanted to do with it," Mook said, "but the execution wasn't there."
Annapolis senior forward Delmore Howard led all scorers with 23 points.