No. 1 Annapolis dealt defensive jar by Paint Branch

Panthers' attack, streak stifled by Montgomery foe

Boys 3A state semifinal

High Schools

March 10, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Top-ranked Annapolis' bid for an undefeated season and the Class 3A state boys basketball title vanished in a defensive quagmire at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House yesterday afternoon.

Montgomery County's Paint Branch, using a quick, athletic defense and strong shooting, sent the Panthers home from the teams' state tournament semifinal with a 63-56 defeat and 25-1 season.

Afterward, the Annapolis locker room was stone silent, the Panthers crushed emotionally.

"It's very difficult to win a state championship, because you have to play well at this stage and have a little luck," said coach John Brady, finishing his 23rd season with the best single-season record in Anne Arundel County history.

"Our kids went down to the wire and had a chance to win, but give Paint Branch credit. They played very good defense and held us to our lowest output of the season."

No other team kept Annapolis in the 50s this season. In fact, Paint Branch -- relying mostly on man-to-man defense, often full-court but mixed with a occasional box-and-one -- held Annapolis 25 points beneath its season average of nearly 81 a game. The Panthers' lowest previous point-total this season was 65 in a 12-point win over Arundel, one of only six games in the 60s for the Panthers.

Paint Branch, which won its only state title 23 years ago, will meet Randallstown, yesterday's other semifinal winner, at 3 p.m. tomorrow at College Park for the 3A state championship.

Trailing at the half for the first time all season at 35-33, Annapolis could not put together a run and found itself down 56-51 with 1: 07 remaining.

With a minute left, a pair of free throws by junior point guard Marcus Neal (16 points, two assists, five boards) pulled Annapolis within three, 56-53.

But Jamal Wise, who led Paint Branch with 19 points, hit a basket, and a free throw by Tamar Daley with 39 seconds left pushed Annapolis behind by six again, 59-53.

Seven seconds later, the Panthers gained renewed hope, at 59-56, off a three-pointer by Joe Feldmann (nine points, three assists).

But they couldn't finish the comeback, missing two more three-point attempts and turning the ball over once.

Paint Branch closed it out with Seyi Oyenuga (12 points) sinking both ends of a one-and-one and Wise slamming the ball through the cylinder at the buzzer.

The Panthers had trouble in the second half getting the ball into the hands of their leading scorer for the game, Marcus Johnson, although he started the final period with his second dunk and then his third three-pointer of the game. He finished with 19 points.

Annapolis came into Cole for a state-record 25th time, not only averaging 80.7 points but yielding 49.1 a game. In contrast, Paint Branch played pretty much to its season averages of 67 points scored and 54 given.

"Our defense usually starts slow, but once they settle down, our kids are tough," said Paint Branch coach Walter Hardy. "I thought we could pull away with our defense."

Paint Branch, now 21-5, placed four players in double figures and shot 52 percent (27-for-52) from the field.

ANNAPOLIS -- Neal 16, M.Johnson 19, Hawkins 7, Feldmann 9, R.Johnson 5. Totals 21 9-10 56.

PAINT BRANCH -- Oyenuga 12, Wise 19, Aluko 15, Daley 4, Evans 11, Williams 2. Totals 27 8-13 63. Half: P 35-33.

Boys basketball playoffs

State semifinals (At Univ. of Md. College Park)

Yesterday's games

Class 4A

Quince Orchard 57, Meade 50

Oxon Hill 55, Southern-B 44

Class 3A

Paint Branch 63, Annapolis 56

Randallstown 53, Northern-Calvert 46

Today's games

Class 2A

Aberdeen vs. Fort Hill, 7

Gwynn Park vs. Edmondson, 9

Class 1A

Crisfield vs. Williamsport, 3

Brunswick vs. Pikesville, 5

State finals

Tomorrow's finals

Class 1A, 1 p.m.

Class 3A

Randallstown vs. Paint Branch, 3 p.m.

Class 2A, 6 p.m.

Class 4A

Quince Orchard vs. Oxon Hill, 8 p.m.

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