A dejected Meade coach, Butch Young, summed it up about as well as anyone could.
"A bunch of sophomores grew up and became juniors," said Young after his seventh-ranked Mustangs (19-6) were upset by No. 13 Annapolis, 64-62, in a Class 4A East region semifinal played in Maryland's capital.
Young was referring to six sophomores among the eight Panthers who played, four of the youngsters scoring in double digits along with junior Kyron Belt. Thomas Hawkins led the way with 19 points, seven coming in the final period.
The game was close down to the wire before a pair of free throws by Hawkins made it 63-57 with 24 seconds left and another Hawkins' foul shot with 10 seconds remaining iced the win.
Annapolis (20-6) goes after its 13th region title in the last 21 years and state-record 24th overall at Westminster tomorrow. Westminster (16-8) advanced with a 66-61 victory over Glen Burnie (10-15).
Westminster will be playing at home because it is the region's higher seed, sixth vs. Annapolis' eighth.
The Panthers, who last won the region in 1996, turned the tables on the Mustangs in more ways than one in posting 20 wins for the 17th time in the last 21 years.
History repeated itself only in the Panthers' favor. Meade, which beat Annapolis twice this season, lost twice to Annapolis in 1992-93 before winning that season's region final over the Panthers at Meade.
This time, Annapolis prevented the sweep with a huge, home victory made possible by a balanced attack and better rebounding, two ingredients that had buoyed Meade in their two wins.
Meade out-rebounded Annapolis in each of the first two games, placed five in double figures in the first game (80-70) and four in doubles in the county championship (70-63).
Annapolis had three players in double digits in each of the first two games, but it was Meade that had only three last night in Maurice Davis (17), David Stangee and Jeff Charles, 16 points each.
"We didn't adjust very well to their combination zones, and their man on Steve [Spurlin] with a little triangle in the back that gave us a lot of trouble," said Young. "We've always had four guys that scored, and we didn't get anybody to step up for Steve."
Spurlin, who was held to six points (half his season's average) last night.
Besides Hawkins, other Panthers in doubles were Belt and Travis Foster with 11 points each, and 10 each by Marcus Johnson and Marcus Neal, who also had six assists, six rebounds and three steals.
"Seemed like they beat us to a lot of loose balls, and they probably beat us on the boards," said Young, whose club was in fact out-rebounded, 37-32. "And that was a real determining factor."
Pub Date: 3/06/98