Neal-led Annapolis pulls out 67-62 win

4 straight free throws at end of 31-point night finishes Severna Park

Boys basketball

High Schools

January 04, 2001|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

With a game on the line, Marcus Neal has proven over four varsity seasons at Annapolis that he is almost guaranteed to be a heart-breaker for opponents of the Panthers.

He is especially not a player opposing teams want to put on the foul line at nitty-gritty time. Neal, who scored 12 of his game-high 31 points in the final period, showed why last night in a 67-62 win over Severna Park (5-4) at No. 7-ranked Annapolis (8-1).

Severna Park's Jon Garritt, who led the Falcons with 25 points, hit his third three-pointer of the second half to bring his team within 63-62 with three seconds on the clock. Neal then cut and dodged a couple of Falcons to grab the inbounds pass and was immediately fouled with two seconds left.

Falcons coach Paul Pellicani called time on the dead ball, but, unfortunately, his team had none left. Severna Park was assessed a technical for the mistake.

Neal then dropped in four straight free throws. Game over. The right man had had the ball.

"Marcus can do it, " said Annapolis coach John Brady. "He plays to win and isn't afraid to take the big shot. He makes the big shot.

"I know he was really ticked at himself because he missed that one [free throw on a three-point play]that would have put us by three."

Instead, Annapolis had a 61-59 lead with 1:14 left, but Neal hit his next two foul-line chances with 11 seconds remaining to give the Panthers a 63-59 lead and set the stage for his 4-for-4 heartbreak.

Neal has missed only four free throws all season and never more than one in a game. The 6-foot-1 senior guard was 8-for-9 last night.

"I felt like I was going to make all of them and I was mad when I missed that one, " said Neal, adding that "the rim wasn't with me. It jumped out on me a little bit."

Neal tied the game twice in the final four minutes at 57 and again at 59 before making his "Thomas Hawkins shot" to give Annapolis the lead for good with 1:14 left.

"It was a little post move Thomas used to do all the time, " said Neal of his teammate of three seasons. Hawkins also played four varsity seasons at Annapolis before graduating last year.

That big basket came after a Trevor Quinn turnover, but the 6-6 Quinn grabbed his eighth rebound on the Neal miss. Down at the other end, the Falcons' Theo Brown, who had nine points, missed a jumper and Annapolis sophomore Josh Johnson pulled in his eighth rebound only to have the Panthers throw the ball away.

After their final timeout, the Falcons went to Quinn, who had only two points in the first half, but who scored eight in the second, including two threes, and Quinn missed a jumper and immediately fouled Neal, who grabbed the rebound with 11 seconds left.

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