Playing their best final period in three games, especially at the foul line, No. 6 Annapolis ended a two-game losing skid with a 62-43 victory over Severna Park, leaving both teams at 3-2.
The host Panthers scored 19 points (the margin of victory) in the final period by sinking 15 of 20 free throws (18-for-26 overall), as well as a pair of field goals.
Senior guard Todd Nicolini was 8-for-12 from the line down the stretch and led all scorers with a career-high 20 points.
No. 19 Severna Park got 17 points each from Greg Korwek and Ville Jarvi, but the duo did most of their scoring in the first half (10 points each) as the Falcons faltered in the second half by daring to run with the Panthers.
Playing under control in the first half, the Falcons shot 45 percent from the field (10-for-22), only to fall into the Panthers' trap in the second half and hit just eight of 28 (29 percent).
Once into the frantic tempo they love to play, the Panthers went from shooting 28 percent (9-for-32) from the field in the first half to 48 percent (12-for-28) over the final 16 minutes.
"We did an excellent job getting the lead and maintaining it," said Annapolis coach John Brady, who is one win (399-76) from becoming the second boys coach in Anne Arundel County history to post 400 career victories.
"The last five minutes we were flawless," Brady said, explaining: "We didn't give up layups, didn't foul, handled the ball well, didn't give them second shots on misses, and we hit our free throws."
By starting cold from the perimeter, as they did in previous losses to No. 4 Dunbar and No. 11 Arundel, Annapolis found itself down, 24-21, at halftime.
Again, their 6-foot-7 twin towers, Boo Diggs, who was called for his fourth foul at the start of final period, and Brian Barber, who fouled out late in the game, got into early foul trouble.
Korwek (six rebounds, one block) and Jarvi combined for 20 of the points and the Falcons out-rebounded the Panthers, 16-13, in the first half. Annapolis would out-rebound Severna Park, 22-10, in the second half and 35-26 overall.
"We didn't get beat by their big guys," said Severna Park coach Paul Pellicani. "It was more in the transition, and [Diggs and Barber] didn't dominate like they certainly have the potential to."
Barber (11 points, nine rebounds, one block) scored to bring Annapolis within one, 24-23, seconds into the third period. Scott Raspa (10 points, three rebounds, one block) then hit four straight field goals to ignite a 10-for-15 (67 percent) shooting spree by the Panthers.
Raspa's fourth was a put-back that gave Annapolis the lead, 31-30, for the first time since Nicolini had opened the game with a three-pointer.
Annapolis would lead the rest of the way as Diggs, who had a game-high 10 rebounds to go with two blocked shots, scored seven of his 11 points and DeMarkus Green (six rebounds) chipped in a two to make it 43-35.
"I thought for a half game we played well, played hard," said Pellicani.
"All of a sudden, we got out of our flow and started running with them. We're not going to be successful trying to run with Annapolis."
Pub Date: 12/20/96