FORT WASHINGTON -- It couldn't have been any closer or any tougher last night for Annapolis, losing the Class 3A East regional final, 73-72, on Sam Young's free throw in overtime with 28 seconds left at Prince George's powerhouse Friendly.
The fourth-ranked Panthers (23-2) had three shots to win it in overtime as time ran out.
"I'm glad I got a chance to play with these guys and wish them success next year," said a dejected Laronja Owens, who scored a game-high 28 points. "We played our hearts out."
The Panthers' three shots included a put-back by Josh Johnson in the final 10 seconds that just didn't fall.
Their 23-game winning streak ended as Tavon Randall's jumper hit off the backboard and into the hands of Johnson for his 15th rebound. Leaning slightly to his left, Johnson, who had pumped in several put-backs throughout the night on the way to 24 points, was slightly off balance as his tap hit off the rim with two seconds left.
A desperation shot by Kojo Snowden just missed from the corner as time expired. The Panthers had hoped for Owens, who scored 22 points in the second half -- including five in the extra session -- to take the shot. But, he was trapped and had to pass the ball out to Randall.
The host Patriots (22-1), ranked No. 2 by The Washington Post, were led by Tevon Jackson's 25 points. They came into the final averaging nearly 85 points a game and avenged losses to Annapolis in the semifinals in each of the past two seasons.
"They've been whipping people all year, and it came down to one possession in overtime at their place," said Annapolis coach John Brady. "If the ball goes in, we're celebrating."
It was the Patriots' fourth regional title, the first since 1998 when they claimed the school's only state title in boys basketball. Friendly will play the West regional winner at 3 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at the Comcast Center in College Park.
Annapolis was bidding to add to its state-record 25 regional titles, 14 under Brady, but the Panthers lost the 3A East final for a third straight year to a Prince George's school.
"We knew we had to go through Annapolis to do it, and we've got the soldiers now," said coach Gerald Moore, who led Arundel to the 4A East crown over Annapolis in 1995 before moving to Friendly in 1998.
Owens finished as the fourth-leading scorer in Anne Arundel County public school history and second on the Annapolis career list with 1,624 points.
A--Owens 28, J.Johnson 24, DeVoe 12, D. Johnson 5, Snowden 3. Totals: 27 9-11 72.
F--Jackson 25, Young 19, Howard 14, Allen 10, Miner 3, Strong 2. Totals: 27 12-16 73. Half: F 36-30.