Arundel enjoys role as county's top 'Cats

SIDELINES

January 20, 1995|By PAT O'MALLEY

It used to be when Annapolis and Arundel played boys basketball, it was a matter of not whether the Panthers would win, but by how much.

Tonight when the No. 11 Wildcats (10-2, 5-0) take the court on their home floor, they rank as the unfamiliar favorite in the county 4A League "Game of the Week." For the first time in 20 years, the No. 13 Panthers (9-3, 6-1) are the underdog.

"We've paid our dues and don't have to come in the back door anymore," said Arundel coach Gerald Moore. "We want teams to come to us. We meet everybody at the front door now."

Moore's Wildcats edged Annapolis, 66-64, in this season's first meeting on Jan. 3 in the Cap City. It was Arundel's first win in Annapolis since 1975 and only the second since then, the other coming two years ago at Arundel by 76-74.

The Wildcats will be out for their first regular-season sweep of the Panthers in 20 years and first ever over a John Brady-coached team. Brady is in his 18th season at Annapolis and is not used to losing to Arundel, nor is he used to battling the Wildcats for the county 4A title.

Such is the case tonight with Arundel the only unbeaten team in 4A League play. An Annapolis upset (sounds funny, doesn't it?) could leave the 4A League in a three-way tie in the loss column. Old Mill (9-3, 6-1) is idle tonight and could gain a share of first place with an Annapolis victory.

The Patriots, led by Joe Barnes, who is averaging 16.8 points, has lost only to Annapolis in league action and plays the first of its games with Arundel next Friday at Old Mill.

Arundel is led by one of the metro area's most versatile players in Bakari Ward, who started the week averaging 23 points and five assists. Ward's supporting cast includes senior point guard Kevin Higgins (10.5 points, 6.7 assists) and center/forward Marquise Farmer (13.8 points and 12.0 rebounds).

"Marquise is really coming on," said Moore. "I've got him working hard at home and out here on the court. The hard work is paying off."

In the first meeting with Annapolis, the 6-foot-5 Farmer had 17 points and 11 rebounds while Ward and Higgins chipped in 17 and 10 points, respectively. Higgins' layup with eight seconds left provided the margin of victory over a Ronnie Johnson-less Annapolis team.

Johnson, the Panthers' leading scorer with 17 per game, did not play that game, but is back. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference the left-hander's presence will mean. Johnson is coming off a 28-point effort in a 73-57 romp over Severna Park (2-10, 1-5) Tuesday night.

"There is no question that Ronnie means a lot to our offense and team," said Brady. "He's not only our leading scorer, but one of our leaders."

Brady hopes he will get that same kind of intensity tonight with Johnson in the lineup, and Len Barber, too.

The 6-foot-8 Barber, who had seven points, eight rebounds and one block in the first game against Arundel, has been battling a flu bug and did not play Tuesday against Severna Park. Barber is averaging 11.9 points and 12.6 rebounds, tops in the county public school league.

Annapolis point guard Teshawn Cooper, who had 12 points against Arundel, played superb defense. Cooper leads the county in assists with 7.5 per outing and sparks the Panther offense.

Arundel will be without Andy Vermillion, who had a couple clutch buckets down the stretch coming off the bench in the first game.

"We had a mutual parting of the ways, let's leave it at that," said Moore of Vermillion's exit last week.

Oops

In Wednesday's "Sidelines" on technical fouls, I mentioned Brady's ejection in the Annapolis Christmas tournament. Later, I said in "25 years covering county high school sports, I can't recall a basketball game I covered in which a coach was ejected."

But I was there to see Brady tossed with two technicals and also was there a few years ago, for Brady's only other ejection in 18 years, and it, too, came in the Cap City Classic.

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