Kyron Belt and Dewayne Hunt were the matches and sophomore Marcus Neal was the fire with 24 points, including six of the team's nine three-pointers, as No. 3-ranked Annapolis burned Broadneck, 69-40, in Cape St. Claire last night.
With the victory the Panthers advance to tomorrow's 5 p.m. Anne Arundel County championship game at No. 5 Meade.
The Panthers and Mustangs finish with identical 15-1 league records, just ahead of No. 9 Old Mill at 14-2. Annapolis and Meade are also each 21-1 overall and met in last year's county championship when Meade won, 70-63.
Belt and Hunt, two seniors who understand and relish their roles on what is a team of outstanding underclassmen, stepped up in the absence of 6-foot-5 junior Travis Foster.
Earlier this season, Foster had a monster game with eight points and 15 rebounds as Annapolis defeated the Bruins, 54-43, but the Panthers' big man missed last night because of flu. Belt and Hunt, who were All-County stars on the Panthers' football playoff team but role players in basketball, filled in admirably.
"We know our role and our role is to play defense, day in and day out, and do the little things to win," said Belt. "Everybody had to step it up after the way we played in the first half. It was a great team effort."
Hunt said coach John Brady told team members at the half they were "playing good," but "we had to play great and we finished the game out great."
The Panther duo combined for 15 points and 15 rebounds, with Belt grabbing 10, and sparked an explosive second half after the Panthers took a lackluster 27-22 lead to the break.
Broadneck out-rebounded Annapolis, 17-13, in the first half with Tremayne Williams pulling in seven and scoring eight of his 10 points. Keith Williams, no relation, scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half, but to no avail as the Panthers took their game to another level.
Annapolis had a 23-9 advantage on the boards and shot 50 percent from the floor after hitting only 10 of 30 attempts in the first half.
Belt and Hunt, a 6-1 forward who is superb at boxing out and positioning, controlled the boards in a 23-7 third period advantage for the Panthers.
Neal scored 11 of his 24 points in the third period by hitting four shots from the floor, including three of five from long distance.
'Coach called my number in the second half," said Neal, who landed his final trey midway through the final eight minutes. "After I hit that first one, I was just feeling it after that."
Pub Date: 2/23/99