Nobody, especially John Brady, expected it would end like this.
"I thought we'd score a lot more points," the Annapolis coach said. So did everyone else at Cole Field House for last night's state Class 4A semifinal between the defending champion Runnin' Panthers and Parkdale.
After all, in December Annapolis had beaten the same team 110-101. And last night Parkdale led 44-43 at the half, putting the century mark again seemingly within reach.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the scoreboard. The shots, for both teams, wouldn't fall and the points didn't materialize. And when time ran out after Parkdale's Irvin Church knocked the ball from Dennis Edwards' hands before he could turn to shoot off an inbounds play, Parkdale had won, 62-60.
Brady, rumored to be thinking of stepping down from coaching, certainly didn't sound like a man who had lost his last game on the bench. He was upbeat and gracious in defeat, though a close call on Delmore Howard's fifth foul with 5.8 seconds left sent Church to the line to win the game with two free throws.
"It looks like a funeral out here," he said to a group of reporters. "I'm not gonna kill myself." And he wasn't about to disclose his plans for the future, either.
"I'm not disappointed. I'm not depressed. I'm not down," Brady said of the loss to Parkdale (18-5), which now faces Springbrook (18-4) in tomorrow's final at 7 p.m. "I don't want anyone to put a damper on it because we lost in the Final Four by one or two points. I certainly don't think our players have anything to apologize for."
A 21-4 season certainly doesn't beg an apology. And the Panthers played their run-and-shoot game right to the end, lofting three-pointers as they have all season but just not hitting them (4-for-22). "There was only one three-point attempt that was a bad shot," Brady said.
But Church, a 6-foot-1 senior guard who led all scorers with 30, was 5-for-11 on treys himself. "He's a great player," Brady said. "He had 41 against us in the first game."
Edwards led Annapolis with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Rob Wooster added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Brady is proud of his team. "We had nine guys back from last year's team," he said. "It would've been very easy for them to be complacent and satisfied. We had to work hard to get back here and that's the biggest thing."