An awful lot of Bulldog was in Southern of Baltimore Friday night, but in the end host Annapolis held off its determined visitors to emerge with a 92-87 overtime victory in boys basketball.
The game wasso breathtaking that it left both coaches, John Brady of fourth-ranked Annapolis and Meredith Smith of The Sun's second-ranked Southern, speechless.
Brady's 14-year record of never refusing to talk to reporters following a game, win or lose, ended, and it was ditto for Smith, who had nothing to say after the bitterly fought battle.
Before the verdict was in, Southern had 6-foot-7 junior forward Derrick Watkins ejected for a flagrant foul after a couple of warnings, and star senior guard David Cason was out on fouls, all in about of minute of overtime. With 1:24 left in the five-minute overtime period and Annapolis clinging to an 83-79 lead, two of the Bulldogs' top players were gone.
The tension of the contest, which never saw any lead more than eight points -- and that early in the first period with Annapolis up by14-6 and later two minutes into the final period with Annapolis by 67-59 -- showed on Brady afterward.
Profusely perspiring and his face nearly as white as his shirt, Brady chewed out his team behind closed doors after the game.
Brady was obviously upset over his team's inability to put Southern away and for celebrating too early a couple of times near the end of regulation and overtime. It was a must-win for the Panthers in the race for one of the top two seeds in Class 4A Region IV, which means an automatic bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Annapolis had just lost a heartbreaker at 14th-rankedPoly of Baltimore Wednesday, 85-83. Friday's win over Southern lifted the Fighting Panthers to 16-3 and left them still very much alive for one of the top two berths.
Southern cut into Annapolis' 14-6 first-period lead with Cason firing in seven points, and by the end ofthe initial period, it was Annapolis, 26-25. Dennis Edwards scored eight of his nine first-half points in the opening period for Annapolis.
The second period found the two teams trading buckets, with Rob Wooster scoring five of his 10 first-half points and point guard Gerald Hyman adding of his 10 points for Annapolis. Cason chipped in with six more for the Bulldogs but it was freshman Damon Cason (David'slittle brother) who ignited the visitors.
Damon Cason threw up abuzzer-beater at halftime, and Annapolis went to intermission up 43-40 instead of by six.
Edwards came out smoking in the third period and scored 12 points, and the Panthers led 59-55 after three periods.
In the final eight minutes, Annapolis blew leads of eight (67-59) and seven on three occasions -- 70-63, 73-66 and 76-69 with just under three minutes to go. Damon Cason continued his incredible three-point barrage with two more to close the gap at 76-72 with just overtwo minutes left.
Southern's John Salley's slam dunk cut it to 76-74, but two free throws by Wooster off a technical on Southern madeit 78-74. Annapolis received a technical on the same play because Edwards slam-dunked the ball after a whistle that he said he didn't hear, and Damon Cason went to the line and hit two.
With 16 seconds to go, Ahmed Middleton hit the front end of a one-and-one to put Annapolis up by 79-76. Trying to get off a three-pointer, Southern appeared out of sync due to a swarming Panther defense, but somehow David Cason got one up from the middle of the court to stun the partisan Panther crowd and send the game into overtime at 79-all.
Annapolis won the game on the line in the extra three-minute period, sinking 11 of 13 free throws, four straight by both Wooster and Edwards, who shared game-high honors with 28 points each.
Wooster's final two came with 22 ticks left to give Annapolis an 89-85 lead. Kwame Evans sank two at the line for Southern, but after Delmore Howard tossed in the first of two, it was 90-87, with Salley grabbing the rebound.
Evans missed a three-pointer on the other end, and Edwards was fouled with two seconds left while pulling down the rebound. The Panther senior hit both ends for the final 92-87 victory, leaving Southern at 13-5 with a long ride home to Baltimore.