Largo wins 'track meet,' running over Annapolis in state semifinal, 63-40 PG team's freshman center shuts down Panthers

Class 4A/Girls basketball

March 14, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

When 6-foot-3 freshman center Candice Sutton came off the bench for Largo in the second quarter and started driving to the basket and altering almost every Annapolis shot, the game changed.

Largo was suddenly on another level, and the Lions ran away to a 63-40 victory over the Panthers in the girls Class 4A state semifinals at UMBC Fieldhouse yesterday.

Annapolis (23-5) had prepared all week for the vaunted quickness and experience of Largo and hoped to stay in the game by slowing the tempo and getting the ball inside to its two junior 6-footers, Jackie Edwards and Kammi Cottrell.

But Sutton even towered over Edwards and Cottrell, leaving the Panthers no where to turn for points after they had stayed close for nearly half the game.

Dina Brown's line-drive jumper from the corner with 1: 30 left in the first half was basically the last hurrah for Annapolis, slicing the Largo lead to 27-22.

After that, it was mostly a track meet for the 24-2 Lions, who had so much quickness they could come from 15 feet behind the Annapolis guards and shut down every promising fast-break attempt.

"Our young kids got a little frustrated in the third quarter, and once that happened, we were in trouble," said Annapolis (23-5) coach Dave Griffith. "Largo is so deep, and they wear you down. I told the kids they had two 6-footers on the bench [Sutton and 6-0 junior Kyva Jones], but Sutton hadn't played that much, and we didn't know how good she was."

Sutton had played on the JV until midway through the season and was only used sparingly in Largo's Class 4A South region championship victory over Oxon Hill.

That was the Largo game Annapolis assistant George Kapusta scouted and used to help prepare the Panthers' game plan.

So Sutton was not only a strong force but a secret weapon for a team that will be heavily favored to beat Montgomery Blair in the Class 4A title game at UMBC at 3 p.m. tomorrow. Sutton finished with six points, six rebounds and two blocks but her long arms and physical presence broke Annapolis down more than anything else.

Edwards said of Sutton: "She was so big, and she could jump. She altered all our shots. Their whole team could jump. Today, they had a better team than we did."

While Sutton intimidated inside, senior Largo guard Felicia Harris was outstanding in every phase of the game and led all scorers with 20 points and added four assists, three rebounds and one steal.

Senior forward Kia Williams added nine points for Largo.

"There's a certain feeling of electricity in the air for us this year," said Largo coach Robert Blair. "Unless there's a total breakdown, I feel like we're going to win our first state championship."

Annapolis was led by Edwards' 17 points and 10 rebounds and Cottrell's 13 points and nine rebounds.

"It hurts to lose," said Annapolis guard Kerry Miller. "But over the summer, we'll put this behind us and get better as a team. Largo's guards were quicker than us and took almost everything away from us."

Brown said, "I'm disappointed. I just think we played a bad game. We weren't nervous. It was just that our heads weren't in the game like they should have been. But we're taking the loss better than I thought we would."

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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