It's down to the final week of the regular season for the Anne Arundel County boys and girls public school basketball teams, with plenty on the line.
For the boys, four-time defending champion and No. 4-ranked Annapolis (19-1 overall, 14-0 league) clinched its sixth straight berth in the county championship game with a 79-71 win at No. 14 Southern-Harwood (14-6,11-3) on Friday night.
Those teams could meet again in the county final, set for 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 25 at Chesapeake.
Southern needs only one win in its last two games this week - at Broadneck (9-11, 6-8) on Tuesday and home against Severna Park (10-10, 7-7) on Friday - to clinch a berth.
No. 17 Glen Burnie (15-4) and Old Mill (13-7) are tied for third at 10-4 each. Southern has to lose both of its games for Glen Burnie or Old Mill to qualify for the final.
One of those two will be eliminated on Tuesday as the Gophers play host to Old Mill.
If Southern loses one and ends up tied with either Glen Burnie or Old Mill at four losses, the Bulldogs, who defeated both teams, would win by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Double absence for Brady
Laronja Owens scored 35 points to run the Panthers' overall winning streak to 19 and their county league winning streak to 74. And they did it without coach John Brady.
Assistant coach Dale Chambers ran the team while Brady was home suffering from back spasms.
"There was no doubt in my mind that Dale would get the job done for me," said Brady, who was in school on Friday, but had to leave early because of pain.
Brady said yesterday that he was feeling better and expects to be back at practice tomorrow, weather permitting.
Chambers assisted Jane Goode in the Panthers girls' 48-45 victory over Southern, as Whitney Crankfield scored 17. Brady also coaches the Annapolis girls.
Owens has moved into second place on the Panthers' all-time scoring list. The senior's 1,512 points passed 2000 graduate Thomas Hawkins, who had 1,507.
Marcus Neal, who started in the backcourt with Owens in 2001, is Annapolis' all-time leader with 1,744 points, good for second place on the county's all-time public school scoring list. Neal amassed his points over four years, while Owens has played only three varsity seasons.
Owens stands fourth on that list, which is led by Southern's Vince Barnett (1987-91), who had 1,823 points.
Owens' teammate, Josh Johnson, a 6-foot-6 senior, quietly became the 10th Panther to crack the 1,000-point milestone. Johnson, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds at Southern, has 1,113 career points, good for sixth place on Annapolis' all-time list.
No. 6 Arundel (17-3, 13-1) routed South River (12-8, 8-6), 58-38, on Friday to maintain its one-game lead over both No. 10 Severna Park (16-4) and No. 11 Chesapeake (17-3), each 12-2.
Amanda Hernandez and Alex McGuire combined for 34 points for Arundel.
Coach Lee Rogers' Wildcats will visit No. 17 Annapolis (13-5, 10-4) on Tuesday and will close the regular season at home Friday against Broadneck (9-10, 6-8).
If Arundel ends up tied with either Severna Park or Chesapeake, the Wildcats will take first place because they've defeated each of the other two, Severna Park twice.
With Arundel all but a lock for the 7:15 p.m. girls title game on Feb. 25, Chesapeake needs the Falcons to lose one of their last two to get a chance to play host to the final. Chesapeake was chosen as the site before the season started, but the Cougars lost to Severna Park and need help.
Severna Park will play its final two on the road - at South River and Southern (2-18, 1-13) - while Chesapeake is home for both of its games. The Cougars will play host to North County (3-16, 2-12) and No. 15 Meade (15-5, 10-4).
Sophomore guard Brian Johnson, who had eight points and played excellent defense for No. 3 Mount St. Joseph (24-2) in its 63-57 win over No. 5 Spalding (21-5) Friday, is the younger brother of former Annapolis All-Metro forward Marcus Johnson. ... Paige Cheek had 22 points and 15 steals in the Annapolis Area Christian School girls' 81-37 romp over Calvary Baptist. ... Severn (16-9) surprised St. Mary's (22-7) with a 64-63 win on the Saints' home court Friday in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference action. Sophomore Deon Peters led the Admirals with a game-high 25 points.
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