‘Humble Arundel’ flexes consistency against Meade to capture Anne Arundel boys basketball county championship, 69-51
Any doubt Arundel boys basketball would win the county championship on Saturday vanished every time a Wildcat stole the ball away and careened towards the basket.
Spurts of skill and athleticism from Meade paled in comparison to the Wildcats’ unwavering stability. They showcased their speed and accuracy against a team no Anne Arundel team could conquer this season, bringing home the county championship hardware, 69-51.
Arundel (14-3) celebrated, a little. But as they embraced the championship plaque, the Wildcats’ sights already turned to the future. Both teams knew going in they’re likely to see one another a third time, in the region championships on March 2, should all go well in the playoffs.
“The battle of 175 continues,” Arundel coach Rodney Ramsey said.
This is Arundel’s first boys basketball county title since 2012, making it an emotional one for Ramsey. Ten years ago, Ramsey served under coach Jeff Starr in their county championship win, a title helped brought on by two players who are no longer here.
“It’s emotional because I reflect back onto that time, and those guys,” Ramsey said. “For me, it’s a healing process, to get back to here and to be able to accomplish what we accomplished.”
The Arundel players honored those memories as well as this new memory with grace. They embody the spirit their coach pressed into them: each day is not promised. There’s more to life than basketball. If they’d lost, Ramsey said, it would’ve been taken well because all that mattered was that they got to play.
The captains take that message and remind their teammates every practice and every game.
“Every game is a big game. Every game is going to change the future,” said captain Karris Scott, who lit up the floor with 22 points. “I like to say: ‘Humble Arundel.’”
Meade coach Mike Glick knows people forget how young his team is sometimes. It’s easy to do that when a team goes unbeaten in the county in the regular season. How they’ll fare in the playoffs depends on how they respond.
“We’ll have a few days off to reset,” he said. “The mark is going to be through the next week of practice: are they going to be able to go to another level?”
Both teams struggled early; erratic passing led to wild turnovers. Someone needed to settle down and for a minute, it seemed it would be Meade.
Cool and collected, junior Xavion Roberson (14 points) settled in, popped in a 3-pointer and his squad seemed to relax with him.
But soon, Arundel embraced its frenetic energy. Every Wildcat on the floor dropped baskets on Arundel’s 12-0 run, capitalizing off turnovers as the Mustangs tried, and failed, to match their foe’s energy. A 3-pointer from Arundel’s Elisha Williams had it 19-10 after one.
The tone had been set.
“We realized it wasn’t as chaotic as it may have seemed,” Scott said. “We just played through it.”
Meade’s problems became more obvious as they struggled against Arundel’s press. The Mustangs pride themselves on their passing, but on each second, third pass, the ball sputtered out of Meade hands and into the happy grip of whatever Wildcat was nearby. From there, Arundel players like Thomas Loughry and Deandre Johnson spirited away, drilling the transition basket before Meade could catch up.
At the same time, the Mustangs’ shots that normally found their mark just wouldn’t fall, for all except Andre Campbell.
The senior Mustang (20 points) battled through hordes of Wildcats, plucking every delicate ball and running it off for a layup. It’s how Meade kept close, while its perimeter game was off.
But one player wasn’t enough against five Wildcats. Everywhere Meade turned was a weapon in green and black, driving to the basket. Roberson awoke, found himself in open space and knocked down his second trey. But even so, the turnovers didn’t stop and Arundel rolled into halftime up 34-25.
Arundel celebrates with their championship plaque after beating Meade to win Saturday’s Anne Arundel County boys basketball championship game at South River High School.
Arundel celebrates with their championship plaque after beating Meade to win Saturday’s Anne Arundel County boys basketball championship game at South River High School. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)
Turnovers weren’t Meade’s only trouble: the Mustangs shot 11-for-20 from the foul line overall.
“I was most disappointed in our free-throw shooting,” Glick said. “Most of the time, we’re a pretty good free-throw-shooting team and we didn’t shoot the ball well at all. It’s huge when you can get into our press and get our defense set and maybe get a chance to get back into the game.”
Meade regrouped early in the second half. Shooters like Campbell, Bryson Spruell and Roberson moved with a fluid pace. For a moment, the gap dipped below 10 points, 43-34.
But while the Mustangs had to work on its issues, Arundel didn’t have much to fix.
Scott knocked down another 3-pointer. Loughry knocked down not one but two triples. It also helped to have Azim Sana, too, because when the 6-foot-7 senior wasn’t pawing down Meade shots, he was popping in putbacks — night and day from when Meade locked up the big in their previous meeting.
“I was in my head the last time,” Sana said. “I took it positively today and played well.”
With 3:49 left, Meade exploded out of the timeout with a fire previously unseen, but Noah Frayer immediately quashed that energy with a 3-pointer.
“We started the game tight. We missed shots we made all season long. But you can’t simulate this environment,” Glick said. “But I’d be surprised if the players didn’t grow from it.”
The Wildcats know Meade will use this as fuel, but they don’t feel afraid. After all, they bought in early, Ramsey said. It’s automatic now.
“They know the season starts over again. When we go into practice Tuesday, we’re 0-0,” Ramsey said.