The slogan on the back of Annapolis' warm-up jerseys reads, "84 feetfor 32 minutes."
But based on Saturday night's 86-70 loss to Cardozo in the Capital City Classic boys basketball final, the Panthers' theme seemed to be "84 feet for 26 minutes."
Annapolis, which stayed within striking distance of the visitors from the nation's capital for a little over three quarters, ran out of gas during the game's last six minutes -- immediately after Coach John Brady was ejected from the game for three straight technical fouls.
"I got the technicals to kind of get everyone going," said Brady, whose team beat Poly in last year's final. "It seemed like the only three people in the whole gymnasium who were interested in the gamewere myself and the other two officials.
"It was like (the players) weren't interested. The fans were sitting on their hands -- I don't even know if Cardozo was particularly interested in the outcome of the game. It was like everyone out there was just running through themotions. I didn't mind getting a technical, because I wanted to try and get the team and the fans up a little bit. I didn't know I'd get the other two so quickly."
After Brady's exit with 5:31 remaining in the contest, the Clerks' Gregory Jones nailed three of four technical foul shots, then made one of two resulting from Josh Gannon's fifth foul, boosting Cardozo's lead from 68-62 to 72-62 without moving the clock.
The Panthers (4-1) had pulled to within one at the end of the third quarter, thanks to Marvin Brown's driving layup with 25 seconds left. The slashing 6-0 guard, who finished with a game-high 28points to go with four rebounds, scored eight straight points duringthe last 3:40 of the period. The other three buckets came on two other twisting drives and a put-back.
"Marvin played hard on both ends of the floor," Brady said. "For what he has to do, he deserves a lot of praise for the way he played, because he was on the ball a lot (defensively), and that takes a lot out of you.
"He was the only player that I though was being aggressive offensively."
For the game, Cardozo (4-3) used its quickness and slight height advantage to out-rebound Annapolis, 43-24.
The flashy, sometimes erratic visitors,who defeated Bethesda-Chevy Chase in Friday's semifinal, placed fourplayers in double figures. Guard Martyn Norris led the charge with 22 points, in addition to pulling down eight rebounds. Six-foot-seven power forward Jermaine Gregory came off the bench to ring up 21 points and grab a game-high 14 rebounds, while Jones and Donald Struthers contributed 17 and 11 points, respectively.
"(Gregory) is a real good player, and I think he's going to get even better because he's only a junior," said Clerks coach Henry Lindsey, who attributed his team's recent success to its defense.
"We stress defense. Championships are won with defense, not offense. Although I do have a pretty good offensive team, we made a couple of offensive mistakes, but I thinkwe'll be OK," said Lindsay, whose team competes in the perennially tough District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association.
"Ithink the key to the game was that we just got beat up on the boards," Brady said. "They just outplayed us on the inside. They didn't gettoo many points from the outside; most of their points came in the paint."
The Panthers, who downed Poly, 93-64, Friday to advance to the championship, held their biggest lead at, 15-10, with two minutesremaining in the first quarter after an eight-foot jumper by Juan Johnson (10 points). Rob Wooster and B. J. Gross (team-high eight rebounds) were collared for most of the night, scoring just eight points each.
In the girls final, Lake Clifton of Baltimore tripped Annapolis, 60-47, despite 15 points from Kai Simms and 14 from Lisa Roberts.