ANNAPOLIS -- Rob Wooster bailed out fast-fading Annapolis three times in the last 31 seconds, as the Panthers hung on to edge Broadneck, 71-69, in a blistering Class 4A, Region IV final before a sellout crowd of 1,400 last night.
Second-ranked and top-seeded Annapolis (21-3), which had major foul problems, rallied from six points down to build a seemingly safe 66-53 lead with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left.
But No. 3-seeded and 11th-ranked Broadneck (21-4) scratched back behind 7-foot-2 center Boris Beck (22 points) -- a senior transfer from Hamburg, Germany -- and a pressure defense that forced three straight turnovers.
For some time, it appeared that Beck would personally pull the Bruins through. "If they'd won, I never would have eaten sauerkraut again," Annapolis coach John Brady said.
The Bruins, who would lose their third straight regional final at Annapolis, pulled within 68-67 with 44 seconds left when Johnny Williams followed Beck's three-point play with a leaning jumper in the lane.
Williams and Dennis Edwards (23 points) of Annapolis then missed free throws before junior guard Wooster went to work.
After Carlos Evans made the first of two free throws to put Annapolis up, 69-68, with 31 seconds to go, Wooster sneaked inside to rebound Evans' missed second shot.
Teammate Gerard Hyman missed the front end of a one-and-one with 19 seconds to go, but Williams misfired at the other end and Wooster battled inside of Beck to rebound with seven seconds showing. He was immediately fouled and sank both free throws, making academic Beck's follow shot at the buzzer.
Wooster, who brought the ball upcourt in the latter stages, made four of five free throws in the last 1:34. "No doubt you think about them, but we practice those pressure shots every day, so I had the confidence to go up there and try them," said Wooster, who totaled 20 points despite playing the last 20 minutes with three fouls.
Said Brady, who switched Wooster to the point during Broadneck's comeback: "In 14 years here, I've had four or five guys who were ice on the free-throw line. Rob's one of those guys -- and it was the best shot we had.
Brady won his 11th Region IV crown and is set to defend Annapolis' state 4A championship in College Park next week, but the Panthers were in serious trouble much of the way.
Beck came off the bench to score 12 first-half points, as Broadneck mounted a 33-27 lead midway through the second quarter. Then, Beck drew his third personal five minutes before halftime and Annapolis rallied to tie, 35-35, on six straight points from Edwards and Ahmad Middleton's rebound goal at the buzzer.
Edwards' seven points and three straight three-point goals from Wooster opened a 51-43 edge with just more than 11 minutes to go. The Panthers maintained their lead until Damain Spain's baseline drive and Jeff Vincent's three-pointer ignited the late Bruins surge.
"Broadneck is just a resilient team. We pounded them (75-39) the last time we played, then they had to play three overtimes [in beating Old Mill, 72-70] the other night, but they bounced back," Brady said. "They didn't win 20 by packing it in."
Broadneck might have pulled the game out had it not been for Annapolis' exceptional man-to-man defense that forced five quick turnovers at the outset of the fourth quarter. Those helped the Panthers to their late late 66-53 advantage.
"We anticipated them playing man-to-man, but they have good, quick athletes who play hard," said Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek. "But we never let down, and played with guts. That says a lot about these kids."