East no breeze for Annapolis

SIDELINES

March 02, 1994|By PAT O'MALLEY

What might be the deepest and most talented team Annapolis coach John Brady has ever had is not going to have a cakewalk through the Class 4A East Region boys basketball playoffs.

Top-seeded Annapolis, riding a 13-game winning streak, is the favorite, but certainly not a lock in a season that has No. 2 seed Glen Burnie (18-4) with one of its finest teams ever and Nos. 3 and 4 seeds Calvert (16-3, ranked 19th by The Washington Post), and Arundel (15-7), respectively, as excellent teams as well.

The Panthers (20-2) and the Gophers had byes in last night's first round and play host to semifinals at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

When you consider the long and storied winning tradition of Annapolis basketball, particularly during the 17-year Brady era that includes a state title in 1990, and the fact that this might be the Panthers' best overall team, it would seem a cakewalk would be in order.

"No, if we win it, we're going to earn it," said Brady, whose team last won the region in March 1991.

Annapolis was 21-4 overall that year, including a loss in the state semifinals one year after winning it all and finishing 23-3.

In 1991-1992, Annapolis was 20-3 overall, but lost in the second round of the region playoffs to eventual winner and state semifinalist Old Mill. Last year, Annapolis won the county title, but lost to state 4A finalist Meade and finished at 17-7 overall.

That was the first time since 1970-1971 (when Arundel was the winner) Annapolis had gone two years without a trip to Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, site of the state final fours.

Now with its 14th 20-win season and 15th county title under Brady, who is 355-63 (.849, highest in county history) overall, Annapolis is gunning for its 12th region title with a team averaging 91 points a game and yielding only 68.2.

The Panthers have outscored their foes, 2,002 to 1,502, averaging nearly 20 points a game from each of five positions in its two-platoon system, which uses 10 to 12 guys. Point guards Juan "J.J." Johnson and Teshawn Cooper are averaging a combined 10.8 assists a game.

"We averaged almost 85 points a game in '90 when we won the state championship," said Brady, who has watched his Panthers hit 100 points or more seven times this season.

They're scored 90 points or more in 14 of 22 games. The average of 91 points per outing is pretty amazing in that it includes a 51-48 loss to Class 3A East Region contender Broadneck (16-5).

Glen Burnie could be considered the sentimental favorite, but it does have a lot of talent.

"I would love to see Terry get to College Park one time," said Gophers assistant Mike Rudd of his boss, veteran Glen Burnie coach Terry Bogle.

Bogle (265-304) is in his 26th season at the helm of the Gophers and never has won a region title, but came close in the 1981-1982 season.

The Gophers (20-4) won the county title that season with a 13-1 record, nosing out (21-4) Annapolis, 12-2, but lost the Region IV championship, 69-66, to the Panthers.

Junior Tray Brown (13.6 ppg) and seniors Tommy Thibeault (10.3) and Dujuan Tilghman (10.4) were the stars of that team.

Bogle said, "It's our deepest team since I've been here. We've got nine to 10 starters on this team."

Sophomore Desmond Dailey (11.6 points), 6-foot-6 junior Marquise Farmer (11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds) and senior point guard William Brown (10.5 points) are the Gophers' leading scorers. And 6-2 senior Jeff Dickerson is averaging 6.5 rebounds.

Like Annapolis, that's only half the story, because Bogle also plays two platoons without any noticeable difference in talent.

Annapolis took the last meeting between the two by 97-62, marking the second straight year the two teams split in the regular season, but you can throw out the 35-point difference. It won't mean a thing if the two teams meet Saturday for the right to play at College Park next week.

The only edge will be the home court for Annapolis and the game could be a classic. Of course, the two teams must get by tomorrow night first, and the two coaches aren't looking past the semifinals even if the rest of us are.

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