Annapolis' Johnson on glass shatters L. Reach hopes, 57-46


There were abrasions on his knees and elbows, and his back might ache a bit today, but Annapolis' Joshua Johnson expected nothing less after a hard night's work.

The 6-foot-6 inside force scored 22 points and grabbed 10 of his 17 rebounds in the first half as fourth-ranked Annapolis pulled away from a hard-playing, 15th-ranked Long Reach squad, 57-46, last night in a Class 3A East region quarterfinal.

Tomorrow, the Panthers (22-1), who are in search of their 23rd berth in the state semifinals, play River Hill, which beat Severna Park, 57-36, last night.

"The ball comes off the rim, it's my job to get it. I had a lot of fun in there, getting the rebounds," said Johnson, who had 13 of his team's 28 points in the first half. "I did whatever it took from diving on the floor, scratching my arms up. And my team stepped up when it really needed to."

Guard LaRonja Owens scored 18 points for Annapolis, despite shooting 2-for-11 from the field in the first half. Kojo Snowden added nine points.

Nine of Owens' points were in the final period when he made five of eight free throws as the Panthers used a 13-1 run to emerge from a 43-43 tie.

Owens complained of dizziness after falling to the floor in the first period, but refused to sit, said coach John Brady.

"I told him to come out, but he said he was all right. I knew eventually he'd come through, and he did - he's that type of player," Brady said. "They're a great team, talented, well-coached and they have good size. We just made a few more plays during that last four minutes."

Down 28-21 at the half, the Lightning (19-5) tied the game three times in the third period, once at 35 on a layup by diminutive guard Mike Smelkinson (nine points) with 1:51 left.

Long Reach had earned its first lead (33-32) a minute earlier as Jared Bradford (eight points) capped a 12-4 run.

"We were hyped in the locker room because we knew this game wasn't over by a long shot," Bradford said. "It came down to aggressiveness on the boards, and their big boy, he had a lot of points and a lot of rebounds. That was a definite minus for us."

The Lightning, which got a steady eight points and nine rebounds from 6-5 junior Zack Hines, tied the game for the fourth and final time at 43 after Eric Smith hit his third three-pointer with 3:48 to play.

Long Reach was whistled for 23 fouls compared to 10 for Annapolis. Hines was in foul trouble midway through the third period, and 6-5 starter Terrell Blackwell fouled out.

"In my 35 years doing this I've never blamed a game on the officials, but I thought we got totally, totally hosed tonight," said Long Reach coach Al Moraz, whose Lightning was 2-for-5 at the line. "The kids played their hearts out, but it's a shame it was put in the hands of two guys [officials] like that. Those guys were horrible. They stole it from us."

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