Annapolis coach Dave Griffith said his team "couldn't do anything right in the first half" of last night's Class 4A East Region quarterfinal matchup with Old Mill.
But he saw nothing wrong with the way his sixth-seeded Panthers finished.
After waiting nearly nine minutes to get its first field goal, Annapolis "pulled together" in the second half and defeated Old Mill, 43-41.
The Panthers, who eliminated Old Mill in the playoffs last year to end the Patriots' bid for a fourth consecutive state title, will visit No. 2 seed Severna Park tomorrow for a 7 p.m. semifinal matchup.
"The biggest thing I stressed at halftime was that for as bad as we played in the first half, we were only down by seven or eight points and to me that made a difference because I felt we still had a chance," said Griffith.
"If we were down by 20, it would have been hard to get them pumped back up but I didn't yell at them, I just kept telling them that they could do it and I reminded them of last year and how we came in and beat them and they just came in with a whole new attitude in the second half."
The Patriots, who defeated Annapolis twice during the regular season, looked like they were on their way to a third straight win during most of the first half.
Annapolis didn't get its first point until freshman Kammie Cottrell hit a foul shot with 3:53 left in the opening period and the Panthers' first field goal didn't come until a minute into second quarter when Jamie Pleyo (17 points) more than tripled her team's score with a three-pointer.
Old Mill (16-7), which entered the game having lost three of its last five, took its biggest lead, 16-4, when Kerri Eland banked in a three-pointer with 2:51 left in the first half.
A field goal by Pleyo, Annapolis' first from inside the arc, came with 2:20 left and started a five-point run by the Panthers that cut Old Mill's lead at the half to 18-11.
Annapolis came out pumped in the third quarter and cut the lead to one in just 72 seconds.
Stephy Samaras started things off with a short jumper, Cottrell followed with a tip-in and Pleyo forced Old Mill coach Pat Chance to use a timeout when she stole an inbounds pass and laid it in to pull the Panthers to within 18-17.
Turnovers plagued the Panthers in the remaining minutes of the third quarter that saw Old Mill escape with a 28-22 lead, despite a 3-for-17 performance from the field.
The Panthers (14-9) tied the game for the first time on a three-pointer by Pleyo with 3:43 left and took their first lead just over a minute later on a basket by Jackie Edwards.
Eland (19 points) tied the game at 36 on a baseline jumper before Samaras regained the lead for good with two free throws.
Eland gave the Pats one last bit of hope when she buried three consecutive foul shots to cut the lead to two with 22 seconds left, but the Patriots never got any closer.
"We didn't play well together well as a team, that's the bottom line," said Chance. "We made too many turnovers, took too many bad shots. We had poor shot selection, that's it."