Annapolis rallies past Friendly in 3A East

25-0 Panthers to host Gwynn Park tomorrow

High Schools

Boys basketball

March 01, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Prince George's County's Friendly took away Annapolis' leading scorer, Laronja Owens, but couldn't stop the Panthers' big man, Josh Johnson, as No. 2 Annapolis squeezed out a 54-50 decision at home in the Class 3A East semifinals last night.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 junior, had game-high totals of 23 points and 20 rebounds. Back-to-back putbacks by Johnson tied the game at 48 and gave Annapolis a 50-48 lead with 2:11 left.

"We have an inside and outside game, and you can't take away both," said Panthers coach John Brady.

Owens, who averages 24 points a game but was held to a season-low 10 points, scored six of them in the last period, including two crucial free throws with two seconds remaining - after fans, who had stormed the court thinking the game was over, had been cleared.

Annapolis rallied from a 46-40 deficit with 4:04 left and closed the game with a 14-4 run that included four straight free throws in the final 17 seconds, Owens' pair and two more by Freddie Allen.

Annapolis, now 25-0, tying its own Anne Arundel County record, will go after its state-record 26th region title at home at 7 p.m. tomorrow against another Prince George's team, Gwynn Park, a 60-51 winner over Long Reach in the other 3A East semifinal.

Brady, who is in his 25th year, will be going for his 15th region title, as will be Thomas Johnson's Tom Dickman.

TJ defeated North County, 68-35, in last night's 4A East and will play host to No. 10 Meade, a two-point winner over Frederick, in that region final.

Using an aggressive, box-and-one defense, the Patriots (19-5) contained Owens better than anyone else in two seasons.

"Owens is so tough and so physical - and that's what gets you," said Friendly coach Gerald Moore, who as Arundel's coach, led the Wildcats to a region title in 1995. "We had the game in our hands, but we made some crucial mistakes down the line."

Moore didn't regret slowing the game down several times in the second half while holding the lead and said he would do it again.

Annapolis needed the ball, and Brady used a 1-3-1 trap against what he called "the Georgetown slowdown" used by Friendly. With the trap, Owens and Darius Johnson came up with important steals.

Owens' rebound off a missed Friendly shot with four seconds left and Annapolis leading 52-50 resulted in his being fouled with three seconds remaining as the fans stormed the floor.

The game was tied at halftime, and the visitors took a 37-34 lead into the final period.

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