Neither Dennis Edwards nor the Annapolis running game truly got untracked, but the Panthers still had enough to outlast Poly, 72-56, last night to regain the championship of the 16th Capital Classic basketball tournament.
No. 2 Annapolis (8-0), which lost in last year's tournament final to Northwestern of Prince George's County, won its 20th straight game since a loss to top-ranked Dunbar last January.
The Panthers had a more balanced attack than the Engineers (6-3), took better care of the ball and played tough defense when the game was on the line.
Forward Rob Wooster and guard Delmore Howard combined for 34 points -- many while Edwards, the area's leading scorer, struggled in the early stages -- and Annapolis committed 20 turnovers to Poly's 27.
The Panthers committed just four turnovers after breaking away from tenacious Poly, which was within 45-44 with 12 minutes left.
Edwards, who entered averaging 36.4 points, finished with a game-high 28. He had 13 points and Wooster chipped in back-to-back three-pointers to lead the late run.
"We play in a very tough league, and they [Annapolis] are that kind of team," said Engineers coach Bucky Kimmett. "They played good enough defense to cause the turnovers, although I still think we should have handled the ball better.
"And, to tell the truth, they were a little big for us," Kimmett said.
Poly, which had 14 points from Tony Jenkins and 10 from Ian Smith, led, 37-36, at the half. But Annapolis came on in the third quarter.
"To be quite honest, I thought we would play quite a bit better in the second half," said Annapolis coach John Brady. "I thought we missed some easy shots [in the first half] -- at least five that we would normally make."
Those shots started falling in the third quarter, as Edwards made three straight goals inside to open a 43-37 lead. Then, after Poly pulled back within 45-44, Wooster made two straight from well behind the three-point arc.
"I thought those should have been four-pointers," Brady said, grinning, and Wooster added, "The defense was slacking off, and I was wide-open.
"Delmore and Gerald [Hyman] did a great job of getting me the ball when I was open for the three, but everything came together when we needed it."
Annapolis raced off on a 20-7 run -- holding Poly without a field goal for the first 5 minutes, 20 seconds of the fourth quarter -- then successfully employed a high-post delay in the last 4:58.