It took No. 9 Arundel nearly four quarters Wednesday night to establish what looked to be a secure lead in the final moments of the Anne Arundel County boys basketball championship game against Annapolis.
It took Panthers junior Juan Brown one flick of the wrist to swipe it right back.
Brown's steal, length-of-the-court drive and layup as time expired capped a stunning 8-0 run to give the Panthers a 51-49 win against the regular-season county champions at Chesapeake.
Tied at 49, the Wildcats inbounded the ball with 12 seconds left, looking to finish off a game they had led by six with under two minutes to play. But as guard Keaton Mack drove to his right near the foul line with time winding down, Brown made the game's decisive play.
"He went to the left, and he came back right and put the ball out here for me," Brown said. "I went for the steal, and I was looking to pass it, but I didn't have the angle. I looked at the clock and said 'it's two seconds, might as well take it myself.' "
His score set off a wild celebration in the neutral gym, packed with a majority of Annapolis fans. The win helped quell the memories of two previous losses to the Wildcats (20-3) this season.
"We wouldn't quit. We could not lose to them three times in a row," Brown said. "After the last time, I've had a bad taste in my mouth, and I've been wanting to get back at them. We just wanted to get back out here to win this."
Brown finished with 14 points for the Panthers, who also got 12 from fellow guard Delaszo Smith. Forward Ryan Hill scored 14 for the Wildcats, who at times were their own biggest enemy by making just seven of 20 at the foul line.
Down by four early in the second quarter, Arundel seemingly took control of the game by holding the Panthers without a field goal for the next 5:52, outscoring them 12-1.
Guard Austin Carroll nailed a three-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead, then Hill followed with put back off an offensive rebound moments later to put them up, 24-19.
They extended that lead to seven shortly before halftime, then again build up the lead in the game's waning minutes by scoring six of eight.
"We just had to play with confidence," Annapolis coach John Brady said.
Girls basketball championship — South River 59, Arundel 48: Tiffany McKinney scored 18 points and Bre Bolden added 16, as South River erased a double-digit deficit with an 18-1 run to open the second half.
The Seahawks (20-3) held the Wildcats without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in one stretch to defeat them for the third time this season. A potential fourth meeting could come in next Wednesday's Class 4A East regional semifinals.
Ke'la Ballard scored 15 to lead Arundel, which made just three field goals in the second half.
The Wildcats had threatened to pull away early, ending the opening quarter on a 14-3 run, and later scoring 10 straight to build a 32-19 lead late in the second quarter. Soon, however, the momentum shifted.
"We just picked up our intensity," South River coach Mike Zivic said. "Our defense also was huge."
The Seahawks will enter next week's regional playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the 4A East region, while Arundel is the third seed.
AA county championship
South River 59, Arundel 48
Arundel – Johnson 2, Ballard 15, Colclough 11, Roy 2, Green 10, McKellery 8. Totals: 18 10-21 48.
South River – Bolden 16, Chaney 6, Kovalick 15, Mckinney 18, Smith 2, Weaver 2. Totals: 18 17-25 59.
Half: Arundel, 33-23.
AA county championship
Annapolis 51, Arundel 49
Annapolis – J. Brown 14, Smith 12, Johnson 4, Glover 4, W. Brown 5, Yount 3, Hardin 1, Turner 8. Totals: 22 7-13 51.
Arundel – Mack 5, Lewis-Cenales 11, Oliphant 6, Ramsey 3, Carroll 10, Hill 14. Totals: 20 7-20 49.
Half: Arundel, 27-22.