The Maryland 4A East region title was already well in hand when Annapolis junior Josh Glover stole a pass and raced down the court Friday night. As soon as he took a dribble, he knew he was going to dunk. But when his feet left the ground, he also had some doubts.
“I didn’t know I was going to make it to the rim at first,” he said. “I took off from so far.”
But Glover did make it to the rim, throwing down a vicious one-handed slam on the head of a Severna Park defender to extend the sizeable Annapolis advantage late in the third quarter. The Panthers led by more than 20 points the rest of the way to seal an emphatic 72-47 victory over No. 19 Severna Park in a rematch of the Anne Arundel County championship game.
With the victory, Annapolis (17-8) captured its 27th region championship and first since 2005. The Panthers advance to face Whitman (20-6) in the state semifinals at Comcast Center in College Park on Thursday night.
Senior point guard Juan Brown finished with 27 points, and Glover added 13 points and 10 rebounds. The win capped a remarkable late-season turnaround for Annapolis, which beat Severna Park (23-3) for the first time in four tries this season.
Exactly two months prior to Friday’s region final, the Panthers were 4-5 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Late in January, with the majority of their county schedule behind them, they were 8-7.
“If you’d have told me when we were 8-7 that we’d be going to Comcast,” Coach John Brady said, “I’d have thought you needed to be drug-tested.”
The Panthers avenged their 63-52 loss to Severna Park in the county title game by getting off to a fast start, something they had rarely done this season. They led by seven points after three minutes, 14 points after eight minutes and 24 points at halftime.
Brown said the team was in a groove after winning two tough road games against North Point and Great Mills the previous two nights. The long bus ride to Severna Park was nothing unusual for the Panthers, and they were teeming with confidence after their overtime victory Thursday.
“It was basically intensity,” Brown said of the hot start. “We played two tough teams and they got us ready for this game right here. We just came out ready to go. Coach told us, ‘Fourth time’s the charm.’ ”
Severna Park, which came into the game with a 16-game winning streak, finished the first half with 10 turnovers and 12 points. And the second half wasn’t much better. The Falcons were forced to trap on defense, creating easy opportunities for Annapolis.
Point guard Jerrell Harris, one of the team’s eight seniors, finished with 18 points.
“They were snakebit,” Brady said.
After only practicing once in the past 10 days, Brady said he is eager to get his team back on the court for some much-needed preparation before Thursday’s state semifinal. Brown, meanwhile, was content to savor the moment. He clutched the region championship plaque at mid-court as several Annapolis fans in attendance came over to congratulate him.
“Playing in front of my Annapolis crowd, going to Comcast,” Brown said. “This is a childhood dream come true.”