ANNAPOLIS -- Finally, a big game that lived up to all the advance.
Senior forward Rob Wooster sank two free throws with three seconds left, and No. 4 Annapolis (11-1) survived a last-ditch, three-point shot and a gutsy comeback from No. 16 South River (12-2) to prevail, 84-81, in a battle of Anne Arundel County's top two boys basketball teams.
Annapolis led, 82-75, in the final minute when the visiting Seahawks scored six straight points to pull within 82-81 with four seconds left. Wooster then hit twice from the line, where he was 10-for-12, and a half-court shot from South River senior Al Lee bounced off the glass as time expired.
Lee (18 points) was one of six South River players to score in double figures. The Seahawks held a 30-26 edge in field goals, but went 14-for-29 from the line.
Both teams brought impressive streaks to the game. South River had won a school-record 12 straight, while Annapolis had taken 16 in a row against county opponents since losing to Old Mill, 68-62, Jan. 15, 1991.
However, no individual was more impressive than Wooster, who had 18 points at halftime and a career-high 34 by game's end. He also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked a shot.
Wooster had 14 points in the opening quarter, including 12 straight in a three-minute span. His running one-hander in the lane gave Annapolis a 17-15 advantage, and South River never regained the lead.
But the Seahawks came awfully close, and under adverse conditions.
Three starters picked up their fourth fouls during the third quarter, with Edmond Hicks (15 points) and Darren Hall going to the bench and John Bolster staying in the game. But South River went on a 13-3 run to cut the lead to 50-49, and the second of two straight three-pointers from Lee brought the teams even, 61-61, with 5 minutes, 55 seconds remaining.
The score was tied twice more before the last of Wooster's four three-pointers gave Annapolis the lead for good, 75-72. Hall fouled out with 3:31 left after scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Bolster soon followed, after getting 11 points and eight rebounds.
"We did some things that weren't to our advantage at the end, but we bailed ourselves out," said Panthers coach John Brady. "South River's a good team. They play hard and they play together."
The first quarter ended with the score tied, 20-20, but South River went 3-for-17 from the floor in the second period, and fell behind, 42-32. Only a trio of three-pointers from Bolster kept the Seahawks close.
Juan Johnson and Tim Howe each scored 13 points for Annapolis.