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T.J. Speight, Meade, junior, guard

Junior guard T.J. Speight scored in double figures in 22 of 24 games, erupting for a career-high 40 points to lead an upset of top-seeded North County in the Class 4A East Region I semifinals.

Speight ranked second in Anne Arundel County with a scoring average of 20.6 points, many of which came from the free throw line. The 5-foot-11, 155-pounder took the ball strong to the basket and wound up attempting 221 free throws and making 176 (80 percent). Speight also amassed 95 rebounds (4.0 average), 62 assists (2.6) and 47 steals (2.0).
He scored in double figures in 22 of 24 games, erupting for a career-high 40 points to lead an upset of top-seeded North County in the Class 4A East Region I semifinals. He also scored 38 points versus Old Mill and 30 against Glen Burnie.

“TJ Speight is the definition of a student-athlete and a winner. He’s a throwback kid by carrying a 3.3 grade point average while excelling at three sports (also football, track and field),” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “Our staff couldn’t be prouder of how he bought in and embraced being a leader and a great teammate. TJ is a great representative of our school community and is loved and respected throughout our building. One of the c players I’ve been blessed to coach in my 32 years.”

In a battle where every flinch was either a shot or a turnover, where each basket was amplified 100 decibels by a roar of a crowd packed to the walls in white or black clothes, who would emerge with a handful of tickets to the Class 4A state tournament? Who wanted it more?

That, you could see in the ferocity with which sophomore Karris Scott flung himself into the air — fighting for a rebound with nobody but air. That, you could see with the intensity with which junior Nigel Omotosho drove through a four-player pileup to the net and somehow made it.

That, you could see as Arundel players crashed into one another like a hurricane flood when the Class 4A East Region I title was truly in their hands.

The Wildcats rode a surge of energy in the fourth quarter to outpace their rival Meade, 63-52, in a clash that was, in itself, its own Route 175 Classic.“We love each other, and we did it for each other,” said Omotosho, who netted 14 points for Arundel. “I’m so happy to be on that banner. Everyone doubted us. And we’re really out here now.”

Arundel coach Rodney Ramsey always knew he had the talent, even in downward seasons in years’ past. It was something that coaches long before him had seeded in the ground, that other coaches and Ramsey himself worked to bloom.

On Thursday night, Ramsey’s Wildcats found the ingredient that, when combined with skill, would produce a victory in the region championship — resilience.

“This was something we started a long time ago and started to build, and we finally did it,” Ramsey said. “We feel good about it.”

Junior Tyson Brooks, who also had 14 points, suffered a sophomore season in which he and his fellow Wildcats could only finish with three county wins in hand.

Thursday’s achievement felt sweeter for it. “I’ve been waiting for this since freshman year. Last year, we had three county wins and now we’re regional champions,” Brooks said. “It’s a blessing from God.”

Deadlocked at 10 points apiece after one quarter, someone needed to pull a stick of dynamite from his pocket to break away from his opponent. For Meade, it was junior Nasir Brockington that had the lit fuse in his hand.
Brockington, who’d already had his share of all-star moments from the two previous playoff games, had run point on nearly every drive up to this time, a minute into the second quarter. When he found he couldn’t find an open teammate, the junior settled behind the arc and sunk a 3-pointer.

After that, Arundel, which struggled through the Mustangs’ choking defense to stir up anything good inside, turned to a different kind of star to swing momentum its way.

That came through every pair of long arms that hooked a would-be Meade shot and pounded it to the floor, carving room for Brooks to lay in a few baskets in the absence of Mustangs scoring.

“I thought their size was the difference in the game,” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “They’re a very, very long team and had some easy putbacks. That was the difference.”

That seemed to be the game plan that could quell a modestly-sized Meade team; that is, until junior TJ Speight, who dropped 40 on No. 1 seed North County two days ago, began to toss a little flair.

Speight’s triple snapped Meade’s scoreless streak and brought the gap. Two more points at the foul line gave them a lead.

Had Brooks not battled through traffic to deposit a last-second layup to put Arundel up 22-21 before the buzzer, Speight (18 points) could have gift-wrapped momentum by way of a Mustangs lead for the visiting team at halftime.

That’s exactly why the Wildcats had to draw up a blueprint to take Speight out of the equation entirely, and they found one. “It was effective,” Brooks said, “so we won.”

Arundel couldn’t quite plug every leak Speight worked through in the third quarter, as the junior guard would break through to notch seven points, inlcuding three from the perimeter, before the clock expired. But when the fourth quarter began, the Wildcats made sure Speight was nowhere to be found, relying on a 3-2 defense to slow Meade down.
“We also went man after the half to make sure everybody stopped getting good looks,” Omotosho said.
It wasn’t just the Arundel defense that needed to look inward at halftime.

Omotosho shot blanks in the first two quarters. In the second two, all he could do was land basket after basket.
“I have to do a self-talk, tell myself I’m not missing any more layups and help my team out,” he said. “That’s what I did.”
All of Omotosho’s 14 points came in the second half, as the 6-foot-3 junior tag-teamed with Brooks to strip the Mustangs of hope and pile it up on Arundel’s side.

The two combined for 18 points in the latter portion of the game, doing so as their fellow teammates kept chipping around them.

The Mustangs, on their third road game in a week, funneled the last of their energy into the third quarter, as they momentarily plucked a 43-42 lead from their hosts on Speight’s trey. To Glick, that was emblematic of the team that wouldn’t give up when they were just 5-11, that lost seven games in the final minute and still believed.

“We held it together, and we just got better and better as the season went on because everyone bought in. I just couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” Glick said. “They might have lost the last game, but to me, it was a championship effort.”
But come fourth quarter, Arundel still had energy to power all of Gambrills.

Meade junior Omar Beattie’s 3-pointer in the fourth would be the Mustangs’ last tying score and second-to-last field goal of the night. After senior guard Quaadir Spence’s full-court layup, there was nothing that could stop an Arundel player as he narrowed in on the net.

Of the last 14 Wildcats points not scored from the free throw line, only one shot misfired.
“Every player played their part,” Brooks said. “Each guy knew what they had to do and we came out with it at the end.”

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There was something about the “oooh” from the crowd when Meade junior Nasir Brockington gave his guard the slip, about the explosion of cheers from the bench as Brockington’s jumper sailed in before the buzzer, that felt a little different.
The Mustangs were moving with energy flowing through each step. That’s not something they were always used to.

But it was something that awarded them with another game to play in the 4A East region playoffs.
Consistency on shots from field goal range and the foul line gave No. 5 seed Meade the ingredients it needed to hand its rival Old Mill a thrashing in its own gymnasium in the 4A East Region quarterfinal, 82-49 — the Mustangs’ largest point total this season.

Meade moves on to face top-seeded North County on Tuesday in Glen Burnie.

“I’m just so proud of the way our kids have bought in," Meade coach Mike Glick said. "We’ve lost so many close games. We’ve lost seven games in which we were tied or down, with the ball, with the chance to take the lead or tie the game with a minute left. The kids never gave up.”

This week, junior TJ Speight (16 points) told his teammates that the regular season was long gone, and the playoffs marked a new year. That meant the Old Mill that hung Meade out to dry on transition points twice earlier in the season was gone, too.

“We talk about in practice how we got to get back on defense, we got to play hard. … It was 0-0 and now it’s 1-0. We came out flat the whole regular season, wasn’t doing what we had to do, so in practice, we told everybody we got to go hard, rebound," Speight said. "Everybody go 100 percent, do what we got to do so we can win.”
That kind of mentality was only possible because of the growth made internally by Meade this season after losing its senior leadership to graduation.

“Everybody had to pitch in and not be selfish," Brockington said. "This is a team game. Beginning of the season, everybody was selfish, worrying about them. Coach Glick had a talk with us, saying, it’s a team. We all need everybody to win.”

Senior Corey Williams (13 points) struck the flint to spark the beginning of the end for Old Mill.
The 6-foot guard shot three-straight baskets to break a tie with the Patriots in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer that both gave Meade the advantage and earned a “boom!” from his coach and teammates.
And yet, for a moment, Old Mill seemed to have rocked back onto its feet, with a triple by junior Alex Diggs (15 points) that tied things at nine.

That lasted about as long as cold weather in this Maryland winter.
Six-foot-5 Meade big Devin Barksdale carved out some room with a few putbacks before the buzzer, Brockington nailed a following triple to open the second and Speight continued to whittle away with good shots from the free throw line.

The Mustangs would go on to put up a nearly perfect 20-for-21 mark from the stripe — the best, Glick said, Meade has shot all season and a stark contrast to Old Mill’s 6-for-13 performance.

“It’s crucial cause there’s a lot of games we’ve been down by three, a lot of games we’ve been down by missed free throws and layups," Speight said. "If we can capitalized off the missed free throws, and the layups and the turnovers, we’ll be a better team than we were.”

Junior Delonte Johnson’s bucket to close out a 10-0 Meade run before halftime, which earned an even more emphatic “boom!” from Glick and subsequent layup helped the Mustangs cross the border into rout territory.
“We’re a very deep team. We’re a team that can play 10 guys on any given day, any one of the 10 guys can step up and play, and that was the best we’d shot the ball this season," Glick said. “Our struggles have been, all season, that we can’t score. Getting guys coming off the bench hitting shots, I thought, was the difference offensively.”
But the Patriots that hustled out of the locker room were not the same ones that headed in with 38-18 deficit on their shoulders.

Old Mill came back, and you could blame it all on Meade. The Mustangs had momentarily lost the energy that now radiated from the Patriots as they knocked down five field goals, scoring seven points unchallenged, from a team with a revitalized sense of competition.
Suddenly, the Mustangs were back to 14 points up with momentum on the opposite end of the court.
So they reversed it.

Johnson picked a steal off the Patriots and rocketed it from going out of bounds to Omar Beattie, who hooked it in. Before long, after Speight’s basket, Johnson’s triple and Beattie’s pair from the foul line, Meade was right back where it wanted to be, riding a 26-point advantage, 59-32.
The Mustangs decided to have a little fun with it now.

Brockington drove the ball inbound, with his assigned Patriot, Diggs, staring him down. Brockington shifted left to right to left, eyes on the basket, and then stepped to left. Diggs dropped to the floor, and Brockington released the jumper that would bring all of the Meade crowd’s love down upon him like rain.

“I just wanted to score, get something for the crowd," Brockington said. "I think it pumped a lot of energy. It got the bench going, fans off their feet.”

With a 61-35 lead entering the fourth quarter, not one Mustang slowed his pace toward victory. Beattie drained a 3-pointer; Speight hit both of his free throw opportunities along with both baskets. That was the last move by the main players before Meade brought in its subs, who were then able to tack on another six points. With it, the Mustangs are hauling the exact kind of momentum they believe can quash North County. In their last meeting eight days ago, Meade fell by just three points.

“Hey, they’re the number one seed. We have nothing to lose," Glick said. "We played them twice and both games were very, very close games. We know them well, they know us well. We got to have a good couple days of practice and get out there ready to play on Tuesday.”

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If Meade High’s Mike Glick’s 26-year basketball coaching career were a river, it would be the Potomac, long and winding across the region.

Glick has more than 500 wins at Gwynn Park High during his 12 years at the school. Before then, he coached at Archbishop Spalding High (Anne Arundel County) and St. Vincent Pallotti (Prince George County.) He helped boost 45 players to Division I scholarships.

He also spent time as a college coach, assisting at Montgomery College-Germantown and Columbia Union College.
Now, a teacher at Meade, Glick recently led the Mustangs to the Class 4A Region finals.

Here are three things you might not know about him.

Before playing basketball at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and coaching, Glick helmed The Midnight Sun. The high school newspaper at Robert E. Peary High School [Montgomery County] was named in honor of the man widely credited with leading the first expedition to the North Pole.

Baseball, not basketball, set Glick on high school coaching path.

While Glick was coaching college basketball in the 1990s, the head basketball coach job opened at Pallotti.
Glick, then 26, believed he had no chance of getting the job, but he talked to a friend and fellow baseball umpire, Steve Walker. Walker, who become Pallotti’s school’s athletic director, promised to at least get Glick an interview.
“I went in … all nervous, trying to do the best I [could] and I got hired for one reason," Glick said. "My [former high school] principal was the principal at the school.”

Richard Dumais, who had been diagnosed with cancer, resigned from Pallotti two weeks after hiring Glick. He wrote to Glick, “The last thing I’ll ever do in my career is give you a chance. I always saw something in you.”

Rudy Gay was not Glick’s only NBA product. Rudy Gay is unarguably Spalding’s most famous athlete graduate. Before a 14-year NBA career, playing for four teams, Gay played for Glick.

Gay is not Glick’s only former player to make it big.

Jerome Williams, who was coached by Glick, was drafted in 1996 by the Detroit Pistons and accumulated 11 years in the NBA by “rebounding his ass off.”

Glick also coached Jarrett Jack at Pallotti before Jack joined the NBA.

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Anne Arundel basketball coaches react to death of Kobe Bryant, daughter

By Katherine Fominykh

Capital Gazette |
Jan 27, 2020 | 10:40 AM

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant celebrates with his daughter following the Lakers’ 99-86 defeat of the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Amway Arena in Orlando on Sunday, June 14, 2009. Bryant and his daughter Gianna died Sunday in a helicopter crash in California. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

For Archbishop Spalding boys basketball coach Josh Pratt, watching his 9-year-old son Joey playing in a youth basketball game should have been a happy moment, one that he’d always enjoyed.
Then, Pratt’s nephew sent him a text letting him know that former Lakers star Kobe Bryant had died. Bryant and his daughter Gianna were two of nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles on Sunday morning.
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The longtime NBA veteran, who had spent 20 years in Los Angeles, amassed over 33,000 points in his career and garnered five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards and two Olympic gold medals.
Basketball had been a through-line in Pratt’s life and his long coaching career. Pratt began coaching in 1993, three years before the Lakers drafted Bryant. Bryant, 41, was only a few years younger than Pratt.

“As I’m walking out of the gym, we’re all looking at each other, everyone’s whispering,” Pratt said. “Nine year olds, you know, they don’t really know what’s going on. The parents, they’re looking at each other like, ‘is this even real?’”

Kobe Bryant’s death leaves NBA players, others in shock: ‘There will never be a greater warrior in our sport’

In the grocery store after the game, Pratt was enveloped by mourners looking at their phones, taking in the news. Life goes on but the Crofton resident hugs his children a little bit tighter.

“This happens, it puts things in perspective,” Pratt said. “You could tell he was a wonderful dad to his daughters, which makes it all more tragic. I’m still trying to process it all really.”

Meade basketball coach Mike Glick, whose long career accomplishments link to the NBA, includes mentoring multiple professional veterans like Rudy Gay at Archbishop Spalding, was watching the Maryland men’s basketball game when his son texted with the news. Horror washed over him.

“He’s one of the best players to ever live,” Glick said. “He’s an icon, and he’s positively affected millions of people around the world. It’s a horrible loss to humanity.”

The circumstances of the tragedy, and the loss of the John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa — fellow parents with their child, heading to a travel basketball game — were all too familiar to him.

“I think of the amount of hours I’ve spent in cars taking my three sons to national baseball tournaments,” Glick said on Sunday. “I’ve done the same thing Kobe was doing this morning. It’s tragic.”

When the news struck Southern coach Will Maynard, he’d hoped it was a hoax — born out of the hype surrounding LeBron James surpassing Bryant for third on the NBA all-time scoring list the night before.

When he’d realized the news had been confirmed, and then the subsequent news about his daughter Gianna, it put Maynard in a daze. He’d been watching the Maryland game, too, and preparing to rebound from Friday’s loss to Annapolis to keep Southern as the No. 1 seed in Class 2A.

But as the news sunk in, he couldn’t watch film anymore. For three to four hours he scrolled through Twitter, silently pleading that some news outlet would walk it back, say it wasn’t true after all.
He thought of Marvin Wallace.

“I lost a kid in the beginning of the (school) year a few years ago. First week of school,” Maynard said. “He was never able to put on a Southern uniform, but he played for us during the summer and he would have made the team.”
Wallace was 14 years old, just one year older than Gianna Bryant, when he died.

“I remember the effect that had on the kids, on the community. It wasn’t a national story, but seeing someone that young just when the best times of your life… to be taken away is tough,” Maynard said. “Never question God, but it was an unfortunate situation.”

Maynard recalled when he was young, when University of Maryland first team All American Len Bias died two days after getting drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986. Pratt will always remember where he was when Bias died, just as he will never forget what he was doing when word arrived about Bryant.

“We tend to believe tomorrow’s always guaranteed, but in this situation, it shines light that you’re never guaranteed to see the next five minutes," Maynard said.