Johnson, Old Mill hand Meade second county loss
Superman has kryptonite. Meade has Old Mill.The Mustangs hadn’t suffered a county loss since December, happily piling up eight Anne Arundel wins.Their last county conqueror? Old Mill.The Patriots rallied in the third quarter to defeat Meade, 63-52, on Friday. That’s what they did the last time too.“I thought the game was eerily similar to the first time we played,” Mustangs coach Mike Glick said. “Even first half and just a bad third quarter.”With an impactful, 11-point fourth quarte, Daevone Johnson led Old Mill (10-6) to the victory with 24 points.“He’s really deceptive with his length. He can defend, he can score,” Old Mill coach Mike Francis said. “He was first-team all-league last year, and I’ve been telling everybody he’s our all-around best player.”Just like last time, the two played neck-and-neck with Meade (13-3) holding a little edge.
TJ Speight (18 points) proved he’d be a playmaker in this contest by hitting the first basket for two, then following his appetizer with a pair of 3-pointers. Speight pointed to the sky on the last one, a grin washing over his face as cheers from the blackout Meade crowd rained down.Mazhi Thames, who finished with over a third (20 points) of the Mustangs’ total, joined his teammate’s endeavors with seven points, one from downtown.Even as Meade seemed to slow down the Patriots’ usual quick-paced style, Old Mill was able to almost match its hosts as Tra Thomas tallied six points. The Patriots trailed by just two, 17-15, after the first quarter.Save for a pair from beyond the arc by Kanari Smith, the Mustangs were mostly able to corral Old Mill’s scoring efforts in the second, while the Patriots kept Meade from running too far. The hosts improved their first-frame gap and had a slim lead at the half.The Patriots knew how this story played out.
The first half was just the first act, and things always look a little uncertain at a play’s intermission.The second act was where they’d shine.“We did a better job rebounding and we didn’t let Tre [Dunn], the big kid, control the boards in the second half,” Francis said.Old Mill’s a transition-scoring team, and Meade knows it. That didn’t mean they’d be able to stop it, though, especially once the Patriots shored their own defense up.A technical on Dunn gave Old Mill a golden opportunity at the foul line; the Patriots hit six straight free throws to add to their 10-0 run.“That gave them a lot of momentum, but we struggle when we don’t score the basketball. That was the difference in the game,” Glick said.Meade, meanwhile, didn’t score until there were just three and a half minutes remaining in the quarter – a Dunn putback.“I think what happened was we turned the basketball over, we shot quickly and we shot bad shots,” Glick said.By the end of the third, Old Mill had carved out an 11-point lead, 48-37.Johnson was just getting started.“When we play defense, he gets steals, he gets blocks, he gets layups,” Francis said.He then stripped Meade in the paint, charging down court and hooking a layup, unchallenged. He seemed to enjoy that, so he did it again, punching the ball out mid-air and carrying it up the court for another two points.“There’s a lot of time left!” Glick shouted at his players, who managed to creep within seven points of Old Mill with 58 seconds left. And yet, the Patriots became familiar once again with the free throw line – Johnson especially, who hit four. He screamed, “Let’s go!”, trading laughs with Robinson.
Old Mill’s season season hit some bumps last week, as the Patriots dropped two straight to Broadneck and Glen Burnie.“Meade’s got a great team,” Francis said. “We just played a little better defensively tonight than we have in the last three-game stretch. I’m really happy about that.”Glick lives by a “the most important game is the next game” motto. By that standard, it doesn’t matter to him so much that Old Mill took the battles if they don’t win the war.“If we play them again,” he said, regarding the playoffs, “we’d relish that opportunity.”