Annapolis falls short in semifinal

March 11, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

The odds finally caught up to Annapolis.

The Panthers made it out of their region despite being the fifth seed and having to play three games on the road. But they couldn't continue their improbable run in yesterday's Class 4A state semifinals, losing to No. 1 seed Sherwood of Montgomery County, 62-55, at UMBC.

Sherwood (21-1) will meet No. 2 seed Western (22-2) in tomorrow's 3 p.m. final. The Doves ousted No. 3 seed Oxon Hill yesterday, 60-45.

For No. 4 seed Annapolis (19-7), making its first appearance in the state tournament since 1982, a bad case of nerves and an inability to keep Sherwood off the boards proved its undoing. The Warriors collected 24 offensive rebounds, and 45 total, compared to 29 for the Panthers.

The problems extended even farther. Annapolis' offense never looked in sync, which contributed to 23 turnovers. And Sherwood went to the line twice as many times (40-20).

"I said something at halftime. I felt like we weren't running the normal offense," said coach Dave Griffith, whose team had won 10 in a row and 18 of 20. "Too many people were trying to step up and be the hero and I said they needed to go back to what we did all year.

"And I think a lot of that was nerves. They got in there and were all pumped up and everybody wants to try to do something.

Seniors Shannon Henderson and Cristi Samaras did the most. They each scored 19 points, and Henderson added 17 rebounds and nine blocks.

They were on their own for much of the game, however. Starters Emily Nugent, Stephy Samaras and Janelle Queen combined for just 11 points, including nine in the second half.

"I told Emily, 'You've got to start popping threes.' And she was afraid to drive there for awhile," Griffith said. "Again, I think that was nerves. You're talking about a junior. Stephy's a sophomore. Being young like that hurt us a little."

Despite its troubles, 8th-ranked Annapolis made two strong runs against the Warriors.

Sherwood had broken free from a 14-14 tie after one quarter by outscoring Annapolis 19-9. But Cristi Samaras hit a three-pointer, Stephy Samaras converted a pass from Artina Trader and Cristi Samaras put back a missed layup to reduce the deficit to 37-35 with 2:38 left in the third.

Sherwood's Nikki Tibbs (15 points, 10 rebounds), a 6-2 senior center, halted the run with a three-point play. More important, Henderson drew her fourth foul and went to the bench.

She returned to start the fourth quarter with her team trailing 44-37. The Warriors went up by 12 points, but Annapolis got within six on three occasions.

The Panthers had the ball with 1:42 left and Sherwood leading 57-51. They took two bad shots from around the three-point arc, and Cristi Samaras picked up her fifth foul with 1:16 left.

Trader drove the baseline and scored with 54 seconds left, cutting Sherwood's lead to 59-53. But that was as close as Annapolis got.

"We're totally new to this," said Cristi Samaras. "We're a small-town team and we're not used to having all this glamour and everything. There was some nervousness, some hesitation. But I'm happy we got this far. Too bad we didn't win, but it was a good game."

While Annapolis struggled to find some offensive balance, four Sherwood players scored in double figures. Meredith Pine had 15 points, Takesha Williams 12 and Gloria Cruz 11.

The loss ended Anne Arundel County's streak of 4A state championships at five in a row. Broadneck was victorious in 1989 and 1990, and Old Mill won the past three.

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