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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.’”
Annapolis survives battle with Meade in final regular season game Meade
Sometimes it’s easier to hide your best weapon when he’s not a senior. People tend to overlook youth in favor of experience, especially when it comes to high school. But after watching Byron Ireland zigzag through Meade defenders to drop tie-breaking baskets, direct Annapolis traffic on the court and battle out rebounds in opportune moments, the Panthers’ top gun wasn’t a secret to Mustangs coach Mike Glick anymore. “Ireland is one of the best players in the league if not the best player in the league,” Glick said. “He’s a tremendous, tremendous player. He took the game over and was one of the primary reasons that they won. All credit goes to him.” Broadneck's victory over North County comes with benefits Ireland had stepped up more and more lately, Annapolis coach Dan Smalley said, and no more than Thursday night. The sophomore was necessary for the Panthers to survive a one-possession game, defeating Meade, 65-62, in the final bout of the regular season.
Ireland piled up 26 points – 13 in each half – to power the Panthers. Smalley knows there’s going to be a target on his guard’s back come March. “He’s going to be critical in the playoffs,” Smalley said. “…I hope other people step up because that’s the way it’s going to be. Old Mill secures spot in boys county championship When no one in black or white could find their way in the net in the first, Ireland was the first to strike. His layup started a small Annapolis lead that Meade found its way to tie, thanks to Tre Dunn, Mazhi Thames (24 points) and TJ Speight’s field goals and an assortment of free throws. The Panthers held their advantage by a thread, 9-8. “They were box and one. I think box and one was a very good gameplan. It caught us off guard a little bit,” Glick said. “We got down 5-0 then we started scoring, adjusting and got the ball in the basket.” And yet, the Mustangs were already running into their literal biggest problem – Xavier Green. The sophomore had at least half a head on any Meade player, a plus he demonstrated in a slam-dunk followed by punching the ball out of the Mustangs’ hands on their next possession. “We just gotta try to keep a body on him,” Thames said. “You got to box him out because once he gets it, he’s guaranteed two points.” Even as Meade stepped ahead to open the second, Ireland snatched the lead right back as his 3-pointer kissed the strings, following up with a steal to layup sequence. But if the Mustangs were fazed, they certainly didn’t show it. Speight knotted things at 16; when Dunn couldn’t convert Thames’ assist into a dunk, he tapped it in for two instead, which, of course would have been two either way to tie again at 20.
If Zion Green hadn’t stepped up, things might’ve remained that way for halftime, but the senior had a different plan. He first squashed the prospect of a Meade takeover – for the moment – with three. J’Quan Graves then fed him a pass for two. It was enough to secure the Panthers’ one-point advantage, 30-29, at the break. It wasn’t enough to hold the Mustangs back. “Big picture: that was a one-possession game,” Glick said. “Like all the games in the league, it could go either way.” On first touch, Speight potted the ball for two – and the lead change. Even as Ireland stepped in to score Annapolis’ first basket of the quarter three minutes in, it paled in comparison to what Meade was generating. Nick Haylock hit three; Speight hit another two. “We didn’t have any energy in defense,” Smalley said. Thames had just five points in the third, but he knew how to make them count. He dodged Ireland as the final seconds of the quarter ticked down, gazed up at the net. When the ball left his fingers, Meade had already secured its biggest lead of the game – but it didn’t hurt to add three points. Down 48-39, the Panthers needed to move like they’d all been given jolts of caffeine. And they did – Xavier Green and Ireland peppered the net with baskets, as well as Demari Turner, for two, and Demeiko Ross, his first field goal of the night counting for three. “They’re a good team, but I trust my teammates,” Ireland said. “I get my teammates involved and take over the game.” The Mustangs managed to stave Annapolis off – when the Panthers would get a hit, Meade would hit right back – but that couldn’t last forever.
“Our defense was excellent. We were controlling the boards. We were definitely in position to win the game,” Glick said. “I thought the deciding factor in the game was when Tre Dunn fouled out.” On back-to-back fouls, Meade had lost its “best rebounder and shot-blocker” for the game. Thames estimates at that point, Annapolis was simply out-hustling the Mustangs, winning more often on 50/50 balls. It was enough to win it all. “Finally, we started playing a little harder and everything got easier for us,” Smalley said. Glick didn’t let his players treat the game like a loss for long. The promise of winning was just around the corner – after a bye, Meade, seeded second in Section I, will take on the winner of Glen Burnie/Arundel in the upcoming Class 4A East Region playoffs. “I told them in there, they’re a championship team; we’re right where we want to be. Now we just gotta get a little bit better,” Glick said. “I thought it was a championship game and a great game for us to end the season on to start the playoffs.”
By David J. Kim February 5 at 8:39 PM
Broadneck’s Nicholas Gatton was open for a shot in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but he passed the ball to teammate Jamar Young for an even better look. Young also kept the ball moving, eventually swinging it to Che Colbert, who drove hard to the basket for a wide-open floater to pad the Bruins’ lead.The sequence late in Broadneck’s 69-54 win over Meade in Fort Meade was representative of the Bruins’ season. Their unselfishness, along with each player’s ability to make shots when needed, has resulted in four players averaging double figures in scoring this season with no player topping 13 points per game.“Don’t let the ball stick,” said Young, who had 16 points Tuesday. “When you got the ball for more than four seconds, move it around. Don’t take an average shot. If you got an average three, why not move it around and get a perfect inside shot.”That philosophy was on display Tuesday as Colbert led a balanced attack with 17 points while Logan Vican contributed 12.
The win propelled Broadneck (15-4, 11-3) back into first place in Anne Arundel County ahead of the rival Mustangs (14-4, 9-3).The Bruins showed some signs of fatigue during their second game in as many nights and fell behind by six early in the first quarter. Even their 9-0 run was mostly nullified when Meade immediately recovered with an 8-0 burst of its own to cut the Bruins’ lead to one at the half.Broadneck asserted itself after intermission, however. The Bruins ran away in the third quarter with their outside shooting. Colbert and Young combined for five three-pointers to help Broadneck outscore the Mustangs 23-12 in the quarter and take control for good.“We allowed the guys to figure it out on their own — let them play freely,” Broadneck Coach John Williams said. “They did a great job of making good decisions this evening. I thought we were patient offensively in critical moments.”Said Young: “The defense created the offense. That’s our team. We played good defense, get fast breaks, slow the ball and play our pace.”
After losing its past two games by a combined five points, Broadneck was desperate for a win that would put it back in prime position to claim a county title. Even with a seemingly comfortable double-digit lead, the Bruins never let up and used their experience and ball movement to escape pressure and seal the win.“We knew we had to work on it this time and not have another close game,” Vican said. “When we went up, we made sure that we kept the lead and we protected it.”
Teams that suffer two straight losses usually need a good practice to help get back on track.Broadneck’s boys basketball team did the next best thing. After a pair of losses that brought them back to the pack in the county standings, the Bruins rebounded in a big way by winning at Meade, 69-54, on Tuesday.
Broadneck (14-4) watched a nine-point lead late in the first half turn into a one-point deficit early in the third quarter, but responded by hitting five 3-pointers during a 23-point quarter.“We were excited to have the opportunity to get back out there this evening,” Broadneck coach John Williams said. “We had a tough game (Monday) night against Annapolis and the ball didn’t fall our way.”The Bruins had a 29-20 lead with three minutes left in the first half, but watched the Mustangs close the half on a 8-0 run to go into halftime down by just a point. Meade’s Tre Dunn scored early in the third quarter to complete a 10-0 run and put the Mustangs back on top. After Nick Gatton drew a charge, Jamar Young hit a 3-pointer that started a 7-0 run and put the Bruins ahead for good.Young, who finished with 16 points, hit three 3-pointers during the Bruins’ third-quarter run.“We just had to put it aside. We definitely needed this win,” Young said. “Coach told us this year could really be our year, so we’re just trying to take it step by step.
”Che Colbert, who led the Bruins with 17 points and was one of three starters in double-figures, hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points in the third. Six of his points came over the final three minutes of the frame and helped the Bruins go into the fourth up by 12.“In the third quarter, we knew we had to come out with intensity, bring it back together and just get a lead,” Colbert said. “If one of us isn’t on, we know we can just bring in someone else and they can do it.”Logan Vican added 12 points, including eight in the second half. The Bruins led by as much as 17 early in the fourth, but the Mustangs fought back to within nine with 2:40 left. Young scored, then Vican scored off a nice feed from Mike Cantrell to extend the lead and helped the Bruins close the game out.
After hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, Broadneck finished with nine.“I think their 3-point shooting was the difference in the game,” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “They were the better team tonight and in the second half they took it to us.”Broadneck, the last team to lose a game in county play, improved to 11-2 in the county. Annapolis kept pace with the Bruins and improved to 11-2, while Old Mill is a half game back at 10-2. Following a 16-game county schedule, the top two teams will play in the county championship on Feb. 23 at North County.
“The kids are aware, and it’s a goal of ours,” Williams said. “We’d like to be in the county championship and we’d like to be in the region championship as well.”Mazhi Thames scored 22 points and added three assists to lead Meade (14-4 overall, 9-3 county). Dunn followed with 14 points and eight rebounds and TJ Speight added 13 points.“I’m actually proud right now to be 14-4 and to be where we are,” Glick said. “We just need to get better and move on to the next game.”
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.”