After 10 ties and stellar defense on both sides, No. 11 Annapolis scored the final seven points in the last two minutes to hold off Glen Burnie, 59-50, in a 4A East Region first-round game last night at Annapolis.
Len Barber, who Panthers coach John Brady said "played like he belonged in another league at times," made four big defensive plays in the final 2 1/2 minutes. The 6-foot-8 senior finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and two steals to put his team in the region semifinals.
Third-seeded Annapolis (19-4) travels to No. 2 seed Northern (20-2) of Calvert County tomorrow. Northern had a first-round bye and defeated Annapolis earlier this season in the Panthers' Cap City Christmas Tournament.
"We will have to handle [Northern's] press better than we did the first time," said Brady, who got his 375th career win (375-67, 18 seasons). "Our ball handling was not very good that game."
Last night, the Panthers' ball handling was good, but so was Glen Burnie's 1-3-1 zone defense. The Gophers succeeded in keeping the ball out of the hands of Ronnie Johnson (12 points, seven rebounds), the Panthers' leading scorer who averages nearly 18 a game.
"We packed it in and kept it away from Johnson," said Gophers coach Terry Bogle, whose team led by two after the first period and trailed by two (25-23) at the half despite hitting only three of 17 from the field and scoring just eight points in the second period.
"Johnson likes to take it into the middle and shoot that left-handed shot of his, but our kids did a great job keeping him from doing it. They beat us inside the last time and we were determined to make them beat us outside."
Johnson had four points in each of the first, third and fourth periods and was scoreless in the second. Brady took Johnson out of the middle in the second half and tried to get his team to slow down and pass more after calling a couple timeouts in the final period.
"They played that 1-3-1 very well, have good athletes who slide well," said Brady of the Gophers' Terry Gaither, Desmond Dailey, Damon Flamer, Rocky Newton and Donnie Thomas, who played most of the way.
Clinging to a 41-40 lead going into the final period, point guard Teshawn Cooper (six points), the only Panther to play all 32 minutes, dished off two of his seven assists setting up Boo Diggs (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Jerray Slocum.
Slocum's basket was his second three of the game, giving Annapolis a 48-45 lead with just over five minutes left.
Leading 50-47 with about 2:30 remaining, Barber blocked a shot in the paint by Flamer (16 points, 12 rebounds). Diggs grabbed the loose ball.
Barber's tap-in gave Annapolis a five-point lead, andDailey answer with his final three to cut it to 52-50 with 2:07 left.
Newton (nine points) stole the ball right back for the Gophers, but his attempted heave down court landed in Barber's hands. Barber kicked it out and Ryan Dacey (six points) was fouled with 1:18 left.
Dacey sank the first of two from the line but missed the second and the ball went off the Gophers' Ben Henderson, who was pressured out of position by Barber.
With 1:02 left, Dacey was back on the line, making both this time to make it 55-50. Dailey was cranking up again when the ball slipped out his hands and Barber grabbed it.
Ronnie Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left and Barber's putback with 16 seconds left capped the game-ending 7-0 run.