The first half of Wednesday’s Southern/Annapolis boys’ basketball game was every bit a sprint. The squads combined for 72 points and six three-pointers.

The second half, however, seemed like a marathon. In the end, it was No. 12 Annapolis outlasting the 15th ranked Bulldogs, 63-62, in a key early season matchup of Anne Arundel County title hopefuls.

Senior guard Delonte Joyce had a game-high 16  points, and Sean Lee added 14 for Annapolis (2-0 overall, 1-0 Anne Arundel). Senior guard Bryan Harris had 15 points for Southern (0-1, 0-1 Anne Arundel), and senior Everett Marshall finished with 13.

Joyce’s free throw with 79 seconds remaining in regulation was the difference, but not until Harris missed a jumper with two seconds left as the defending Anne Arundel County champs began their title defense. Panthers coach John Brady could only breathe a sigh of relief.

“We were fortunate to win. Southern is a good team and we gave them a chance to win,” said Brady. “If we played a little better and made some plays at the end we could’ve put a little distance between us and them.”

“We had a lot of turnovers, but other players bonded the team together,” said Joyce.

Domico James (seven points) pulled Annapolis even at 62 with a put back off his own miss with 2:35 to play. After exchanging turnovers, Harris missed a jumper and Joyce was fouled on a shot attempt. He converted the second free throw for the 63-62 lead.

Joyce missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12.7 seconds left, and Southern gained possession with 8.5 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs inbounded to Harris, arguably the top player in Anne Arundel County, whose jumper from the top of the three-point line hit the back of the rim.

delonte joyce and sean lee“Every kid wants the game-winner, we put the ball in his hands and it just didn’t fall,” said Southern coach Ray Bowen.

“We had a play where I go back and get the ball and drive towards the basket, and if they come over then kick it to the wings,” said Harris. “They didn’t come over, I pulled up and just missed it.”

After a frantic first half, both teams cut off the other’s fast break chances over the final 16 minutes. Joyce gave the Panthers their largest lead at 44-32 early in the third before spending the most of the quarter on the bench for his shot selection.

“My teammates told me what I was doing wrong and I adjusted,” said Joyce, who scored 12 points in the first half. “Even though I didn’t knock down the last free throw I kept my head in the game.”

So did the Panthers, who received a big confidence boost Wednesday despite an uneven performance.

“The kids played their hearts out. Its Southern-Annapolis,” said Bowen. “Hopefully one day we’ll be able to knock them off, but right now they’re the kings.”


No. 12 Annapolis 63, No. 15 Southern 62
Southern: Joyce 7, Harris 15, Marshall 13, Burke 12, Bryan 9, Greenwell 4, Koller 2. Totals: 28 5-8 62.
Annapolis: Watson 2, James 7, Sewell 2, Lee 14, C. Varn 6, Papaleonti 5, Owens 2, D. Varn 4, Reid 2. Totals: 24 7-10 63.
Halftime: Annapolis 40, Southern 32.