Arundel coach Jeff Starr had a lot to worry about Friday night.
His wife is 9 months pregnant, and he was worried she would go into labor during the game. Unfortunately for Starr and the host Wildcats, visiting Annapolis didn't make the night any easier.
The No. 9 Wildcats (2-0, 1-0) got into some early foul trouble, blew a 15-point lead, and hung on to defeat the Panthers (0-1, 0-1), 76-74, in the first Anne Arundel County League for both teams.
Annapolis' Delaszo Smith led all scorers with 31 points. Austin Carroll led Arundel with 24 points.
"We had the early lead, but we had three starters with three fouls each, and Annapolis took advantage," Starr said. "I give them credit. We didn't lose the whole thing, and we hung tough at the end."
The Panthers looked outclassed and outmatched against the run-and gun style the Wildcats employed early in the game. Arundel built an early double-digit lead, and just kept lengthening it. The Wildcats had a 12-point lead at the half.
Arundel led, 45-30, on a free throw from Ryan Hill with 5:56 left in the third quarter, but then it got interesting.
With the regulars out, Annapolis used half-court and full-court presses to cut into the margin. The Wildcats began to foul, and Annapolis took advantage, converting six of 10 foul shots in the last 2 minutes of the quarter. As the clock counted down, Annapolis' Smith hit a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 54-49.
The Panthers continued to chip away, finally tying the game at 55 on Cullin Hardin's layup with 7:09 left. Arundel, behind a 3-pointer by Carroll and a layup by Keaton Mack, built the lead back to 67-61, but Annapolis still wasn't done.
The Panthers cut the lead to 76-74 on Josh Glover's jumper with 18 seconds left and actually had a chance to win the game on the last shot. That shot, fired from just past the center of the 3-point line as time expired, bounced off the rim.
"We finished strong after coming into the quarter a little slow," Wildcats guard Raheem Ramsey said. "We knew if we played tight defense and stayed focused, it would work out. In the end, we did what we were supposed to do."
Arundel 76, Annapolis 74
ANNAPOLIS – Jackson 2, Brown 12, Remaley 2, Smith 31, White 4, Johnson 7, Coleman 4, Glover 3, W. Brown 2, Pratt 3, Hardin 4. Totals: 25 25 20-33 74.