The expected happened last night at Severna Park, as 18th-ranked Annapolis (19-5) outlasted the 17th-ranked Falcons, 47-45, in the Class 4A, Region IV girls basketball semifinals.
Shannon Henderson, who suffered a strained neck in the third-seeded Panthers' 66-44 quarterfinal victory over Chesapeake on Monday, scored a game-high 19 points, including what proved to be the winning basket with 33 seconds left.
It was the Panthers' second win in three games against the Falcons this season.
Now the Panthers have to hope for the unexpected 7 p.m. tomorrow, when they visit two-time defending state champion Old Mill (22-1) for the 4A, Region IV title. The second-ranked Patriots, with 19 consecutive wins this season, haven't lost to an Anne Arundel County team in more than two years.
"We will have to play the way we are capable of playing, which is something we have yet to do this season," said Annapolis third-year coach Teresa Ross, who is moving to Kansas City after this season.
NB "We've seen sparks for 30 seconds here, two minutes there, but
not an entire game. If we do, we can do it Saturday."
The Lady Panthers arrived at 6:30 p.m. expecting to play at 7, only to learn that Severna Park had changed the game time to 7:30.
Ross chose not to use the wait as an excuse for her team's slow start. "We've been starting flat all season."
Second-seeded Severna Park jumped to a 13-5 lead in the first period, with senior guard Amy Carnaggio scoring six of her eight points in the first eight minutes.
A free throw by junior Janelle Queen (five points, five assists, three steals and six rebounds) and a layup by sophomore Cristi Samaras (11 points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds) enabled the Panthers to cut the gap to 13-8 at the end of the first period.
The Panthers' Artina Trader hit a pull-up jumper with 1:46 left in the half to produce the game's first tie at 23. From there it was a roller-coaster ride for both teams.
Henderson scored from the lane for the fourth lead change early in the third period to give the Panthers a 27-26 edge, and they managed to build it to 37-31 before the Falcons'Jenny Shanahan (seven points) scored with 10 seconds left to cut it to four points.
Senior Sandy Jenkin, who led the Falcons with 10 points, hit back-to-back field goals and the home team took the lead, 39-37, with 5:31 left in the game.
Samaras, who had been out after getting her fourth foul seconds into the final period, returned and hit back-to-back layups to push Annapolis ahead, 41-39 with just under four minutes remaining. Her return sparked the Panthers down the stretch.
dTC "Dave [Griffith, assistant coach] reminded me to put Cristi back in and she is a momentum-changer," said Ross.
Henderson hit underneath and Annapolis had a 43-39 lead, but Shanahan and Carnaggio answered with baskets of their own to tie it at 43 with 2:17 left.
Sophomore Emily Nugent canned the go-ahead field goal (45-43), her only two points of the game, and after a Severna Park miss, grabbed the rebound and fed Henderson at the other end for the winner.
"This team wants to win bad and we truthfully expect to win Saturday night," said Henderson.