Annapolis denies Old Mill chance at fourth state title

March 04, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Annapolis coach Dave Griffith kept reminding his team at halftime: Don't let Old Mill come back and beat us.

The fifth-seeded Panthers nearly did just that. Their nine-point lead with four minutes left shrank to one in the last 26 seconds, but they held on to upset No. 1 seed Old Mill, 49-46, in a Class 4A, East Region semifinal.

Emily Nugent made two free throws with five seconds left to assure the win, which moved Annapolis (18-6) into tonight's final at No. 2 seed Severna Park.

The loss denied Old Mill (19-4) a chance at its fourth consecutive 4A state championship.

"I can't believe it. I've ever been this happy in my life," said Annapolis guard Cristi Samaras (11 points).

It nearly turned into another night of despair for the Panthers, who were eliminated by Old Mill in last year's region finals and had lost to the Patriots twice this season. LaNita Talley scored six points in the fourth quarter, and Jackie Bardelli made a three-pointer and a free throw in a span of 16 seconds to reduce the lead to 47-44.

Both teams failed to score on ensuing possessions, and Old Mill's Tiffany Slade grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the floor and scored off the glass with 26 seconds left. A foul was called on Annapolis' Stephy Samaras away from the ball, but Talley missed the free throw to keep the margin at one.

Old Mill got the ball back with 24 seconds left and had two shots partially blocked. Nugent was fouled and missed the front end of the one-and-one, but the Patriots' Kerri Eland (12 points) was called for a lane violation, and Nugent sank the next two.

Annapolis center Shannon Henderson led all scorers with 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

"All I kept reminding them was, last year in the finals, we got ousted by them," said Griffith, whose team led since a layup by Janelle Queen with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. "When we got down to that last minute, I said, 'You played a whole season for this, now you've got to play hard.' And we did."

Old Mill coach Pat Chance said: "I knew Annapolis would be a tough game and we certainly weren't taking it for granted. I'm just disappointed that we didn't do better tonight than what we did."

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