If basketball games lasted eight minutes instead of 32, No. 17 Arundel would have been in great shape in last night's game against No. 9 Annapolis.
Unfortunately, for the Wildcats, the home-standing Panthers kicked its high-octane offense into gear on their way to an easy 93-71 4A county league victory.
"I think we played a heck of a ballgame. We put in 28 good, solid minutes," said victorious coach John Brady. "I thought we shot the ball well, and J. J. [Juan Johnson] did a great job of giving the ball to the right people."
Annapolis went on a 17-4 tear during the first four minutes of the second period to take a 35-22 lead.
Lewis Day (20 points, five rebounds) keyed the run with eight points on two three-pointers and a tip-in.
After two free throws by Jeff Hedrick cut the lead to 38-30 at the 2:11 mark, the Panthers went on a 9-2 spree to close out the half, with Lenny Barber's free throw giving the hosts their biggest lead of the half at 47-30.
Kevin Higgins' layup with five seconds left cut the lead to 15 at halftime.
Annapolis continued its barrage during the second half as sixth-man Johnson worked on the Arundel defense with surgeon's skill.
The 6-foot senior point guard handed out nine assists -- seven in the second half -- and chipped in with six points.
"J. J. was the one who broke our backs. He did it this time, and he did it the last time when they beat us in our gym," said Wildcats coach Gerald Moore.
Johnson wasn't the only reason the Wildcats struggled, though, Moore said. "Our problem was we got away from doing the things that make us successful," Moore said. "We didn't get tired, they were just better. [After the first quarter] we didn't play good defense, we didn't work our traps, and we didn't play our usual brand of defense."
The Panthers (11-2, 7-1) led by as much as 30 on two occasions during the middle of the final stanza. Kelsey Watkins' (game-high 21 points, four three-pointers) free throws gave Annapolis an 89-59 lead and Larry Brown's free throws gave the victors a 91-61 advantage.
Rodney Watts (eight points) led the Panthers in rebounding with nine, while Barber pulled down seven to go with six points.
Arundel (9-5, 5-2) held the lead for the entire first quarter, with Sean Fairbanks' inside basket giving the visitors a five-point bulge with 1:21 remaining in the period. Watkins' three-pointer and a Watts layup tied the game at 16, but Hedrick's drive with 30 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats an 18-16 lead after one.
Hedrick led all Arundel scorers with 14 points, and added seven rebounds. Bakari Ward added 11 points and Higgins 10 points and seven rebounds.
"Arundel has a very good team, and we knew that coming into the ballgame," said Brady. You have to play good defense and score against a team like that, and that's what we did."