Anne Arundel Community College's mens' basketball dropped a 92-89 heart-breaker in the Division II Junior College Regional Tournament final to top-seeded Prince George's Community College in Cumberland yesterday.
Coach Mark Amatucci's second-seeded Pioneers (26-7) were attempting to avenge an earlier loss to Prince Georges (18-12), but Prince George's earned a trip to next weekend's National Division II Juco Tournament in Michigan.
Anne Arundel opened at home Thursday with a first-round shellacking of Ohio Valley (13-13), 131-100.
The Pioneers advanced to the final with a 132-99 blasting of third-seeded Frederick Saturday as RonWade pumped in 43 points and Wardell Chambers added 23, leading a parade of players in double digits. Wade's total was a career-high and included six three-pointers.
Wade was also praised by Amatucci forhis defensing Frederick's high-scoring Derek Shackleford. Shackleford managed to hit his average of 29.0 points, which is second in the nation for Division II Juco players, right on the nose, but only got two when Amatucci put Wade on him in the second half.
In high school hoop action, defending State 4A Champion Annapolis has drawn the top seed for this week's State Tournament at Cole Field House, at the University of Maryland.
Annapolis (21-3) plays in the state semifinals March 7 at 9 p.m. vs. fourth-seeded Parkdale (19-5) of Prince George's County. In a battle of Montgomery County teams, No. 2 seed Springbrook (18-6) meets No. 3 Quince Orchard (19-4) in the 7 p.m. 4A semi at Cole Thursday.
For Annapolis to repeat as state champs, the Fighting Panthers may have to overcome the revenge factor.
The 4A State Championship game is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. Annapolis, the only Anne Arundel boys' team left in post-season play, won it last year in what some have called the greatest high school game ever played by a county team, 106-102, over High Point of Prince George's County.
That final marked the second straight year in which those two teams met for all the glory. High Point took the March 1989 finale by 92-84.
There is no chance of a third meeting in the state final withHigh Point, because the latter was eliminated by Parkdale 80-77 in the Region III semis on Wednesday.
But there is a chance Annapoliscould play Springbrook in the final. Annapolis pummeled Springbrook,the Region II winner, in last year's state semis, 93-70.
So the question is, can Anne Arundel Panthers knock off the Prince George's Panthers and go on to repeat as state champions?
"It's a lock, because any team that can beat a team with a 7-footer in the region finalcan win it again," joked Annapolis coach John Brady, referring to his team's 71-69 4A Region IV Championship win Friday night over the Boris Beck-led Broadneck Bruins.
Beck is the Bruins' 7-foot-2 centerwho was almost unstoppable Friday until getting into foul trouble. The German transfer student scored 22 points from above the rim and gobbled up 14 boards.
"He was the most dominating player in the county, in my opin
ion," said Brady, who now has to worry about not only Parkdale's Church, but the team's 6-foot-5 twins, Brent and Brett Sherrill.
In the Parkdale game back in December, the Sherrill twins combined for 36 points as Annapolis had to overcome a 14-point deficitin the first half. Annapolis had an explosive 34-19 third period to take control of the game after trailing 53-50 at the half.
Springbrook goes into its semi-final game in the same position as Parkdale -- looking to avenge a December loss. Quince Orchard hammered Springbrook 87-71 on Dec. 18.
So, what we have here is a state championship up for grabs. Any of the four, including Annapolis, could win it.
If Annapolis repeats, the Fighting Panthers would become only the third 4A team to do so. Montgomery Blair first did it in 1961-62, and Northwestern of Prince George's turned the trick in 1967-68.
What's interesting about this Final Four is that three schools have won a pair of state tournaments, and Quince Orchard is a relatively new school.
Annapolis, of course, won last year and in 1974, while Parkdale won in 1971 and 1976, and Springbrook in 1988 and 1972.
There'sno favorite in this one, just four capable teams, but an Annapolis repeat is conceivable.