COLLEGE PARK — With how well Annapolis senior guard Juan Brown played this season, especially during the team's resilient playoff run, the No. 11 Panthers had to like their chances going into the fourth quarter of a close Class 4A state semifinal against Whitman.
But Annapolis, which reached Comcast Center with four road wins through the East region, finally met its match.
The Vikings from Montgomery County had a more pep left for the finish, using a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take hold for a 59-48 win over the Panthers.
Brown, who came in averaging 24 points per game, was again spectacular. He finished with a game-high 26 points before fouling out with 34 seconds left, but Whitman's good aim at the free-throw line (12-for-12 in the fourth quarter) sealed the victory.
After winning four road games to capture the East region — including lengthy trips to St. Mary's and Charles counties in the midst of playing three games in three nights — Annapolis ended its season with a 18-9 record. The Panthers closed out the season winning 10 of 12 after an 8-7 start.
“We had to go on the road for four [region] games, and three of them were two hour bus rides each way, so it was a pretty good accomplishment just to get here,” Annapolis coach John Brady said. “Tonight, we played as hard as we could, but we just couldn't score. They made shots and we didn't.”
Whitman, which got 20 points from Kyle Depollar, will take on the winner of the semifinal game between Henry Wise and Springbrook in the championship at 8 p.m. Saturday.
With the game tied at 36, Riley Shaver hit a 3-pointer as the third quarter closed. The Vikings carried the momentum into the fourth quarter with six straight points to take a 45-36 lead.
Throughout the postseason, the Panthers were the team with the late lead, and the ones that made free throws to close out wins. It was the other way around this time.
“They got the lead, that's the tempo they play,” Brown said. “They slowed it down, and once they did, we had to panic our defense and they didn't miss their free throws.”Brown, who said the loss didn't diminish the team's playoff run, got off to a good start with the game's opening basket and a 3-pointer shortly after. His drive and dish to Wilton Brown at the first quarter buzzer gave the Panthers the biggest lead of the first half, 16-10.
The Vikings relied on the long ball to get close in the second quarter. Kyle Depollar and Adam Lowet hit consecutive 3-pointers in the opening minute of the second quarter and tied the game twice. Brown scored all seven of Annapolis' points in the quarter, his free throw with two seconds left giving the Panthers a 23-22 lead at intermission.
Class 4A state semifinals
(at Comcast Center)
Whitman 59, Annapolis 48
A – J. Brown 26, White 4, Glover 9, Pratt3 , W. Brown 6. Totals: 15 15-20 48
W -- Steinhorn 13, Castagnetti 7, Fried 4, Depollar 20, Shaver 8, Lowet 4, Joel 3. Totals: 15 24-32.
Half: A, 23-22