Meade outlasts Glen Burnie in overtime to advance to 4A East Region Section I final
Mazhi Thames needed to relax.It was hard to do – the cacophony pouring down from both bleachers weighed heavy in the Meade gymnasium air. At any given second, Glen Burnie and Mustang players stormed after the ball and one another like a flurry of tornadoes.Mekhi Simmons had just knotted things up for the Gophers, and there wasn’t much time left to correct it – 4.8 seconds, actually.Thames stilled himself at the perimeter, and hit for two.
“We were going to nobody else at the end of the game,” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “We win or lose with him.”On Thames’ eleventh-hour field goal, No. 2 Meade survived a close frenzy with Glen Burnie to win in overtime, 74-72, in the 4A East Region Section I semifinal. The Mustangs advance to face Old Mill on Wednesday night.Thames, of course, contributed much more than those key final points. The senior – one of only two on the whole team – ended the night with 30 points, 11 in the first quarter alone.“His unselfishness, his ability not to get flustered getting double-teamed the whole entire game, him making the extra pass to his open teammates, him not getting down when his teammates missed wide open layups,” Glick said, “kid’s remarkable.”
There would have been no overtime at all, though, if not for sophomore Omar Beattie. With no time left in the fourth quarter, with Glen Burnie up by two, the 6-foot-2 forward navigated through the Gophers to drain the equalizer.“Omar hit the big shot and sent us to overtime,” Thames said. “Without his bucket, we wouldn’t even be there.”Beattie’s efforts would have been for nothing had it not been for another unexpected source. Sophomore Josh Bishop, who Glick had mostly utilized as a defensive specialist from the start of the season, laid down two 3-pointers in overtime.“He was not a good shooter at the beginning of the year,” Glick said. “Those were the biggest shots of the season.”
The Mustangs needed to shake off playoff jitters as the game began; Glen Burnie didn’t. The Gophers scored on both of their first two possessions while forcing Meade to misfire passes.Thames was the first Mustang to settle in. The senior’s entire demeanor was as easy as a mild summer’s day as he lofted back-to-back-to-back shots from the 3-point line.Safe to say, Meade carried a five-point lead, 19-14, into the next quarter.While his fellow senior had already racked up 11 points, senior forward Tre Dunn (15 points) had his own role to play. He dropped his third dunk of the night to open the second and then tried to marshal the Mustangs defense, one that suddenly needed to step up more than they had before.After all, Glen Burnie was done trailing its hosts. While the Gophers defense double-teamed Thames, Tyrone Cropper (15 points), Simmons (21 points) and Dominick Williams (16 points) peppered the net with baskets, reducing the Meade lead to nothing and then moving beyond. Cropper’s shot from downtown secured a Glen Burnie lead that kept to halftime, 34-28.“Tre played really within himself,” Glick said. “Thought he did a great job of rebounding the basketball and anchoring us on defense. I thought he did a great job playing with four fouls at the end of the game in overtime.”
As a unit, though, the Mustangs struggled to box the Gophers out, and the problem only worsened as the game waxed on. Even as Glen Burnie didn’t always complete its extra opportunities, tallying six points off second-chances over the next two quarters, the Gophers ate up the clock, giving Meade far less time to undo the Gophers’ takeover.Glick has that all on a to-do list before Wednesday.“We did a very poor job of rebounding the basketball,” the coach said. “We gave them second, third and fourth chances. That’s something we’re going to have to do better next game.”As Thames gradually chewed Glen Burnie’s advantage away with made free throws, giving way for TJ Speight (17 points) to pot the go-ahead. Off of three-straight steals, Speight hit two points that gave Meade a fragile lead, one that Cropper unraveled with a 3-pointer followed by a Williams putback. The Gophers led by three, 50-47.It seemed like Meade’s best chance to overtime vanished as Nick Haylock missed an open layup with mere seconds to go. Glen Burnie had a two-point advantage, and that was enough.Enough, at least, until Beattie’s overtime-earning shot dropped and the Mustangs crashed into one another on the court as if they’d just won.In a way, the Mustangs had. The course was set. Williams’ and guard Braeden Cavey’s own 3-pointers, the Gophers’ only field goals of overtime, were canceled out by Bishop’s pair.
Thames struggled to find his opening. The intensity of the moment had gotten to his head.“My strategy from that point is to try and play off the ball. Try to get my team involved more,” Thames said.Once he stepped back on the court and hit his final basket, it would be only seconds until it was over.The Mustangs are 11-1 in games decided in the last three minutes.“It’s hard to beat a good team three times. Glen Burnie beat Broadneck, they beat Old Mill. … I thought coach (Mike) Rudd had an excellent game plan and his kids played exceptionally well,” Glick said. “They pushed us to our limits, but our motto all season has been ‘We’re within five points, six points, three minutes left in the game – it’s our game.’”