At this time of the year, you've got to be at your best whether you are running in a primary for Congress or president or competing in the high school hoop playoffs.
The Prophet was 5-1 in the important final games of the regular season.
It would have been a perfect slate going into the playoffs for the Prophet had it not been for Old Mill's total collapse at Chesapeake(9-13) last Friday. Old Mill's boys (14-9) went in a four-point Prophet favorite, but lost, 73-51.
The Prophet was dead center on his other five picks, running his overall record to 129-65 (.665 percentage). Annapolis was a two-point pick to bounce back from its 61-57 loss last Tuesday to Meade by defeating Severna Park. The Panthers (20-2) outlasted the 16-7 Falcons, 86-83.
Meade (15-7) was a three-point pick to win at Glen Burnie (12-11) and seal the No. 2 seed behind Annapolis in the 4A Region IV playoffs. It beat the Gophers, 71-44.
Broadneck (14-9) needed a victory at home Friday over Arundel (9-13)to guarantee home-court advantage as No. 4 seed in the opening roundof the 4As. The Bruins routed the Wildcats, 82-64.
The Prophet also hit on South River's boys and Southern's girls. South River was predicted to blow out Queen Anne's and clinch the top seed in 3A RegionIV. the Seahawks (19-3) rolled, 74-52, over the Lions (9-13).
Southern (13-9) was tabbed to defeat injury-devastated Northeast by at least two points. The Dawgs routed the 12-11 Eagles, 64-37.
Class 4A Region IV semifinals, both games at 7 p.m. today:
Old Mill (14-9) at Annapolis (20-2): The visiting, third-seeded Patriots were feeling rather bold after upsetting Broadneck, 58-56, Monday night in Cape St. Claire to advance to this semifinal.
It was abig win, but can the Pats do it again and advance to the Region IV final Saturday night as a team of destiny?
The Prophet doesn't think they can, but admits they are very capable and match up pretty wellwith the Panthers. This one should go right down to the final possession, as the last one did.
After downing the Pats, 64-52, on theirhome court on Jan. 17, the Panthers squeaked out a 76-74 decision inthe Cap City on Feb. 18. Senior sharpshooter Rob Wooster was the difference going down the stretch, and his ability and the home court give Annapolis the edge.
And consider this: In his first 14 years atAnnapolis, Coach John Brady has gotten his Panthers to the Region IVfinal every year. After turning in what most county coaches believe is one of his finest efforts, who could doubt that Brady will be there once again Saturday night for the final at College Park.
Also, Old Mill never has won a game at Annapolis. The Pats have beaten Annapolis only once since the school opened.
With Erik Sheppard back inthe line-up following an academic probation, the Pats are an excellent team, and Paul Bunting can coach. Sheppard returned Monday and hit19 points against the Bruins.
His presence offensively and defensively means a lot to Old Mill and will keep them in the game, but in the end whether it takes a foul shot, a jump shot, lay-up, steal, block or rebound, Wooster will be there.
Wooster is the Larry Bird ofcounty hoops and will get it done for the Panthers tonight. It will be a special night for him and his mates as they return to the RegionIV final to defend their crown. Annapolis by 1 over Old Mill.
Severna Park (14-7) at Meade (15-7): What a great match-up this oneis.
The two teams met only once this season, and Severna Park won, 73-66. Most importantly, that game was played in mid-February at Severna Park.
Since that game, Coach Butch Young's Mustangs have gotten hot, and their big guy, 6-foot-8 senior Brian Parker, has been awesome. It's always been tough for opponents to play at Meade.
Lastweek Meade knocked off Annapolis, 61-57, becoming the first county team in 26 games (dating back to last year) to defeat the Panthers, and pulverized Glen Burnie by 27 points in the regular-season final.
In the two games, Parker buried 45 points, grabbed 46 rebounds and submarined six enemy shots. His intimidating play has the Stangs on a roll, a couple of Meade players out on academic probation were expected back this week.
While Meade is playing its best basketball at precisely the right time, you can't be sure which Severna Park will show up tonight.
After nearly upsetting Annapolis last Friday, the Falcons opened in the playoffs at home against Glen Burnie, a club that had just been humiliated by Meade, 71-44, and found themselves 18 points behind at halftime.
Severna Park managed to come back and win, 86-75, but that was Glen Burnie, a 12-11 team. Let the Falcons getdown by 18 at Meade, and they might as well not play the second half.
The Prophet is going with the team in sync, with a coach who knows how to play defense and the home-court advantage, not to mention that giant in the middle. Meade by 2 over Severna Park.