After many years of failure, Old Mill defeated Annapolis on the road last night. And the timing couldn't have been better.
Senior forward Terrell Eldridge matched his season high of 22 points to lead fifth-seeded Old Mill over the top-seeded Panthers, 71-66, in a Class 4A, Region IV semifinal.
Old Mill (15-9) will be making its first appearance in the regional finals when it visits second-seeded Meade at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The Patriots won all three games against the Mustangs this season.
Old Mill never has enjoyed the same success against Annapolis (20-3), winning only once, at home, until last night.
"What makes this victory so big is beating Annapolis at Annapolis, and the fact we beat such a good team," said Old Mill coach Paul Bunting, who is in his seventh season.
Erik Sheppard added 14 points for the Patriots. Annapolis' Rob Wooster scored 22, giving the senior forward 1,001 for his career.
The Panthers took a 52-47 lead into the fourth quarter, but a three-point play by Eldridge with 4 minutes, 8 seconds left broke a 58-58 tie.
"Terrell had to play a great game for us to win," Bunting said.
Larry Brown scored on a follow to reduce the lead to 61-60, but Sheppard answered with a jumper, and Wooster missed on Annapolis' next two possessions. Old Mill then made eight free throws in the last 1:35 to seal the win.
The loss marks the first time Annapolis will not play in the %J regional finals in John Brady's 15 years as coach.
"We've been in a lot of tough games all year long and we came through. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, when you don't come through, you don't get a second chance," Brady said. "Old Mill has a good team. They played hard and they made the plays."
Annapolis looked poised to turn the game into a blowout in the second quarter when Brown scored inside to give the hosts a 29-14 lead. But the Patriots reeled off the next 10 points -- six from Troy Green and four from Eldridge -- as Annapolis was beaten on transition.
A basket from Annapolis' Juan Johnson interrupted the run, but Old Mill ran off the next eight points. Eldridge scored off a pass, then buried a pull-up jumper, Henry Wilkerson made a steal and layup, and Sheppard drove the lane and scored to give the Patriots a 32-31 lead.
After scoring 25 points in the first quarter, Annapolis was held to eight points in the second period. But the Panthers led at halftime, 33-32, after two Marvin Brown free throws with 2:01 left.