An eerie feeling of deja vu lurked around Old Mill's gymnasium with 6.3 seconds left in the Patriots' game against visiting Annapolis on Tuesday.
Less than 24 hours after a miraculous buzzer-beating shot to defeat North County, Camari Wilkerson and his teammates were in position to do the exact same thing to the Panthers.
Alas, it was not to be as Wilkerson, who had a game-high 31 points, could not get his game-tying attempt to fall and Annapolis (13-4) held on for a 57-54 victory.
"This felt good," said Annapolis's Christian Jones, who finished with six points and six assists and is progressing nicely after missing most of the season with an injury. "We played as a team, kept the momentum up like we are supposed to and played defense like we are supposed to."
Wilkerson had 35 in Monday night's win over the Knights, and he started off as if the previous game had not ended, making four field goals in the first quarter and scoring 14 points total in the first half, as the Patriots (13-5) trailed by one at the break, 28-27.
"We just had to forget last night's win real fast and worry about Annapolis, and I needed to see the ball through the net," Wilkerson said.
After four lead changes in the third quarter, the Panthers held the lead on the strength of 3-pointers by Walter Tolliver and Cameron Ford, who had 11 points, and strong work on the boards by Will Dion, who had led Annapolis with 13 points and eight rebounds.
"We knew we were playing a great team in Old Mill and we just had to keep our heads up through any adversity we faced," Dion said.
Up three going into the final period, Annapolis actually extended the lead to eight — on another 3-pointer by Ford — but Wilkerson would respond yet again. He made a 3-pointer and, later in the quarter, made four straight free throws, before a layup by teammate Terrell Bush (7 points, 10 rebounds) evened the game at 52 with 31 seconds to play.
"Both teams were causing turnovers late in the game and we were keeping the pressure up," Wilkerson said. "It was a very up tempo contest; it was a good game."
Jones stepped up and handled the Patriots' defensive pressure, finding Trey Gross inside for the go-ahead score with 19 seconds to play. Nyonjae Spriggs stole the ball for Annapolis with 7.7 seconds to play and was fouled immediately, but earned a technical for slamming the ball down in his excitement. He made both free throws and Wilkerson made his ensuing two, with Old Mill getting the ball out of bounds.
"Knowing that they have their key player to go to, it is easier to utilize our best defenders against them," Dion said.
Wilkerson got the ball just beyond the 3-point line, but was crowded and decided to attack the basket for a contested shot that did not fall. Da'Zhaun Cornish made a free throw to close the game for the Panthers, who have won nine straight and thrown their hat in the top-of-the county ring with the Patriots and Meade. Old Mill saw its five-game win streak come to a halt.
"We worked hard to deny them the ball in good positions at the end," Jones said. "We have been executing like we are supposed to."
Annapolis (13-4)12161316-57Old Mill (13-5)14131116-54
Savoy 1(1) 2-2 5; Ford 4(3) 0-0 11; Dion 5(1) 2-3 13; Cornish 1 1-2 3; Tolliver 2(1) 0-0 5; Bates 1 0-0 2; Gross 3 1-2 7; DeJesus 1(1) 0-0 3; Jones 2 2-3 6; Spriggs 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 20(7) 10-14 57.
Old Mill (54)
Wilkerson 10(2) 9-18 31; Barnes 1(1) 0-0 3; Kaskins 0 0-0 0; Jenkins 2 0-0 4; Johnson 2 0-0 4; Robinson 2 1-2 5; Butler 0 0-0 0; Bush 2 3-5 7; Denton 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19(3) 13-25 54.