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By Katherine Fominykh Capital Gazette
Mar 08, 2023 at 11:08 pm

SILVER SPRING — Meade boys basketball didn’t even think about what happened in last year’s Class 4A state semifinal. A blown double-digit lead, missed shots, tears and heartbreak were all forgettable.

Still, when Sherwood slashed the second-seeded Mustangs’ double-digit lead to just four points with under a minute to go, Meade faced a choice: maintain composure and advance to play for a state championship, or wilt and go home.

Shawn Jones made his choice. He raced to a loose rebound, preventing No. 3 Sherwood a chance to make it a one-possession game.

Not long after, the Mustangs cascaded over each other with dazzling smiles and happy tears, celebrating a 58-51 semifinal win and their first trip to the state final since 2016.

“It felt like the world. There, at that moment, we felt like we arrived,” said Jones, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half. “But we know after today, we go back 0-0, prepare for Saturday and bring [home] the [W].”

Meade faces Parkville, a 70-58 winner of Gaithersburg in the other 4A semifinal, at 8 p.m. Saturday at University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center. In their fourth trip to the final, the Mustangs are seeking their second state title and first since 2015.

For coach Mike Glick, who has experienced six final fours as a public school coach already, his Mustangs have already won half the prize: proving themselves in College Park, win or lose.

Meade players celebrate after a 58-51 win over Sherwood in Wednesday’s Class 4A state semifinal at Montgomery Blair High School.

“My heart breaks for those seniors who didn’t get to do this last year,” Glick said. “These nine seniors will play their last game at Maryland. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Meade made 13 of 27 free throws, but made three in the final 30 seconds.

Jones’ rebound led to a made free throw. In response, Sherwood rushed, too frantic in its attempt for a 3-pointer and the ball ended up In the hands of Mustangs senior Kyree Scott (19 points). He made two foul shots, and soon after senior Xavion Roberson rushed his teammates and the celebration began.

“Getting that moment was going to shut them down,” Jones said. “They started folding, started rushing 3s.”

Sherwood slowed Meade’s fast break early as the Mustangs battled through fouls as well as the Warriors, but they came to this game hardened to petty adversity.

In a flash, Meade burned Sherwood’s momentum, lead and joy to ashes. Seniors KeSean Graham and Scott spurred the Mustangs’ 12-0 onslaught.

Graham blocked Sherwood’s would-be response to keep the score at 16-11 after one quarter. Lucaya Baldridge made another two shots at the start of the second as Meade built its lead to 26-16 at halftime.

Jones fell silent in the fourth quarter in last year’s loss. Similarly, things weren’t going his way in Wednesday’s first half. But, he said, he just needed to believe in himself.

He’d let everyone hear him this time.

If the 6-foot-6 senior wasn’t hauling down boards alongside John Teague, Jaisean Kenner and Zamar Jones, he was breaking Sherwood’s press. He ran the team’s trademark fast break, scoring seven points in the third quarter.

“Shawn is a special player. He’s a leader. He’s unwavered, never too high and never too low,” Glick said, “and our team reflects that. They feed off his energy.”

Meade wouldn’t suffer a setback akin to surrendering 20 straight points to Winston Churchill last year. But shades of last year crept in.

Shawn Jones converted a 3-point play as the lead ballooned to 19. All the Warriors managed in the third was a single free throw.

That changed quickly.

Four consecutive Sherwood 3-pointers cut Meade’s lead to 42-33. Unfazed, the Mustangs reclaimed control and scored six straight points to close the third quarter.

“I’m proud of how we stuck together and executed towards the end, knocked down some big-time free throws,” Glick said. “What got us that victory was our defense in the last three minutes, getting key stops and taking time off the clock.”

Sherwood had minutes to prove it was not in this round by mistake.

The Warriors went on an 11-2 run and got as close as 55-51. Glick drew his team in to regroup. They just needed stops, to value possession-first mentality, to avoid the trap corners.

Jones made his rebound; he and Scott made the free throws.

“We knew we were the experienced players. We knew we weren’t going to fold when the moment came down, not let it get to the situation it did last year,” Jones said. “We just believed in each other, one through 15.”

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By Katherine Fominykh Capital Gazette
Mar 04, 2023 at 6:10 pm

A different Meade boys basketball team made it to the Class 4A state semifinals one year ago. From the outside, most of the faces are the same, save for a few graduations.

But inside, these Mustangs are completely new: older, wiser, more mature. They proved it in their last appearance on their home court, dominating the glass, pushing the pace on offense and holding steady despite some foul trouble in a 64-53 win over No. 7 seed Wootton on Saturday.

The No. 2 seed Mustangs next face No. 3 seed Sherwood on the same stage — and likely the same location — of their downfall this time last year. In that game, Meade led by double-digits before crumbling in a loss to Winston Churchill.

The boys who remained shed their tears, then spent the next 364 days narrowing their focus on winning the title.

“To get back to that destination, then to come out with a victory, stay together, and mentally prepare for the last one,” said senior Shawn Jones, who netted 17 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday.

Meade coach Mike Glick travels to the state semifinals for the sixth time: four with Gywnn Park, two with Meade. He’s garnered only one win at this stage, and none in the state final.

It’s not just the bright gleam of anticipation in his players’ eyes that make him hope next Tuesday’s game is not their last.

“It’s a senior-laden team. It’s a team that’s experienced,” said Glick, who coached his 100th Meade game on Saturday. “It’s a team that’s learned to play with each other, so I just think that’s why they’d been able to set a goal for themselves: winning a state championship and not getting settled with the early successes. It’s kept them on-task and focused.”

Several players embodied the growth this season, just as several scored in double-digits Saturday. But senior Xavion Roberson (19 points, eight assists) stood out above them all.

After an exemplary junior season that earned him an All-County selection, Roberson came into December more of a shadow of his former self. Glick and his staff sat Roberson down and challenged him to take the role that should be his: the leader. To leave emotions behind, to own the ball.

“Ever since then, he’s totally embraced everything. His maturity and the way he’s become our team leader in January, February and now March is just remarkable,” Glick said. “That’s the reason we’re here right now.”

It started with Jones dominating on the glass, drawing a few fouls and hitting a pair of free throws.

Enter Roberson.

The 5-11 senior’s physical form seemed to melt away as he moved through Wootton scrums. Combined with Jones, Meade took the lead for the first and final time.

Then began the fun: KeSean Graham took the floor and sank two 3-pointers. Roberson joined him for another to make it 20-7. The Mustangs hardly stopped, bolting from one end of the floor to the other, Patriots chasing breathlessly behind.

The urgency addled Wootton to the point it no longer felt comfortable taking shots from the perimeter, but it had no answer in the paint.

Junior Zamar Jones (13 points) barely put five steps onto the hardwood before hitting a 3 to give the Mustangs a 23-7 lead: a deficit that wide would startle any state quarterfinalist into attack mode.

Wootton junior Taj Smith pushed his squad into double-digits from beyond the arc, signaling the freedom the Patriots had been able to carve out on the perimeter again.

Still, much of what Wootton had going for it in the second quarter was the whistle. Meade’s thorny defense started to stick barbs in its own side, sending the Patriots to the free-throw line and Kyree Scott to the bench with three fouls.

The Patriots seemed to sense the shifting wind. Wootton’s Peter Stanton stepped toe to toe with senior John Teague and Shawn Jones on the defensive glass, scoring six points to bring the Patriots within 35-23.

“You’re not going to beat teams by 20 points on the regular,” Glick said. “Teams are going to make runs at you. I just thought they responded to the runs, which was great.”

Roberson didn’t mind. The senior still battered through Wootton guards, rolling in another layup and keeping Meade on top, 37-26, at halftime.

The rest took his lead.

“We did our thing,” Teague said. “Anytime you’re down, this team picks you up. It’s the love we have here: it’s a good love.”

It wasn’t the frenzied monopoly Meade rode in the first quarter, but it was Meade basketball. Shawn Jones put rebounds away. Zamar Jones hit from 3-point range. Teague and Scott pressured ball-handlers into turnovers. All of them scratched the boards, boxing Wootton out. The Patriots found themselves on the wrong side of a 14-8 run.

When shots didn’t fall, one senior was always there: Teague.

He took his coaches’ lessons as gospel: pass to the shooters and rebound. Glick doesn’t believe he’s seen his 6-3 senior play better than these playoffs.

“I kept my composure,” Teague said. “My coach tells me to go hard: I go hard.”

Suddenly everyone wearing white — except Roberson — had three fouls as Meade took a 57-36 lead. But no one fouled out. Scott buckled down and executed on defense. Glick felt pride that he never earned his fourth.

The senior crew held the lead until Glick relieved them and swapped in the backups with under two minutes left. At that time, Meade led by 20.

The finality of playing their last home game sunk in at different moments, but it skimmed off Roberson as he struggled with the scissors to slice off his piece of net.

He doesn’t think it’ll all truly sink in until the season is over. He doesn’t intend for that to happen until he’s standing on University of Maryland’s floor, lifting a plaque with his teammates.

“We’re finally here,” Roberson said. “Time to prove ourselves.”

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By Katherine Fominykh Capital Gazette
Feb 28, 2023 at 9:38 pm

Meade’s KeSean Graham hits a three-point shot in the third quarter. The Meade Mustangs defeated the

Meade coach Mike Glick noticed KeSean Graham months ago.

The 5-foot-9 guard was a ghost last winter behind seniors Andre Campbell and Bryson Spruell. But when Graham arrived for summer workouts and played with more energy than anyone, Glick told his assistant coaches, “Watch this one. He’s going to do something this year.”

Graham lived up to his coach’s words Tuesday night, in the top-seeded Mustangs’ rout of No. 5 Arundel, 64-39. The senior helped permanently swing the momentum in moments Meade needed a little flair, amassing 15 points on five 3-pointers.

Meade’s seniors know better than anyone that one playoff win doesn’t give you a trophy. The Mustangs fully remember falling one game shy of the state final last year. Meade hosts Reservoir in Thursday’s Class 4A East Region I championship game.

“Our team is all seniors. This could be our last game. So we have to play off,” Graham said. “Stay motivated.”

Meade wouldn’t have won so handily if it was just Graham doing the work. It’s never been the Mustangs’ style to put the onus on one person, or even two. Meade is at its best when every person on the floor is fulfilling their role.

And the Mustangs reached a personal best on Tuesday.

“We have a senior-laden team that has really come together in terms of being friends and brothers off the court,” Glick said. “And it’s very obvious there’s no selfishness on the team. The kids buy in to everything we’re bringing with them.”

It wasn’t just his offense either. Graham’s strengths weren’t limited to his offensive output. He shouldered one of the most essential — if not the most essential — tasks of the night in guarding Arundel junior Noah Frayer, one of the best shooters in the county who had 37 points against Meade in the regular season and 37 against Old Mill on Friday.

Meade forced early turnovers and yanked down defensive rebounds. The Mustangs deployed a diamond-and-one defense on Arundel’s Noah Frayer, who posted 37 points on Meade in the regular season and 37 against Old Mill in Friday’s quarterfinal. Sophomore Jaisean Kenner led the effort in shutting the prolific attacker, who failed to score until the fourth quarter.

“The fact he didn’t touch a ball, that we stayed in front of him,” Graham said, “as soon as he tried to drive on us, we cut him.”

But other than John Teague, Meade struggled to score.. But It wasn’t Teague’s baskets that changed that; it was his hands.

Most teams zero in on 6-foot-6 senior Shawn Jones because of his length and neglect Teague. Tuesday proved the same; Arundel zoned in on Jones and Xavion Roberson. Teague took advantage. He pulled down offensive and defensive rebounds and limited the Wildcats’ possessions.

“I thought John had maybe one of the best games he’s had in a Meade uniform,” Glick said. “John is one of the best rebounders in the county. He was absolutely relentless tonight.”

Arundel had a chance to get within a point in the final seconds of the first quarter, but Roberson came up with a steal and fed Graham for a 3-pointer to close the first quarter 16-10.

Between Graham, Teague and Kyree Scott, you wouldn’t have even noticed Meade’s two leading scorers, Roberson and Jones, hadn’t yet scored.

By the time Roberson did add his input — a layup and a 3-pointer sandwiching another Scott basket — the Mustangs were in full control, leading 36-18 at halftime.

“I couldn’t be happier how our kids embraced the game plan,” Glick said. “Seized the moment.”

That isn’t to say Roberson (17 points) didn’t collect a share of spotlight for himself. The senior stormed in the last three Meade baskets of the third quarter and accounted for eight of the Mustangs’ 21 points in the frame. What he didn’t score, he tended to assist.

“We go as he goes. His leadership is unbelievable,” Glick said. “His ability to talk to us about what he’s seeing on the court, and he’s terrific in transition. And our team’s premise is getting defensive stops and rebounds to get out in transition.”

Even after Glick swapped out his starters with four minutes left in the fourth, Arundel still turned over the ball. It still missed open shots. Sylvan Amegashie made a basket and then blocked the Wildcats on the other end, to the absolute delight of his teammates.

The Mustangs will celebrate this game before growing serious for No. 2 Reservoir. They don’t take the visitors from Howard County lightly; they’ll work the next two days on a game plan to ensure they’re ready.

But it’s not just film preparing them for victory.

“The hope of winning it all,” Graham said. “We have to get it this year.”

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By James Peters
Published on: February 18, 2023 10:23 PM EST|Updated on: February 20, 2023 3:24 PM EST

Meade players examine their medals following their victory in the Anne Arundel County Boys Basketball Championship game in Odenton, Md., on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Meade defeated Broadneck 60-51 in regulation time to win the championship

Meade players examine their medals following their victory in the Anne Arundel County Boys Basketball Championship game in Odenton, Md., on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Meade defeated Broadneck 60-51 in regulation time to win the championship. (Tom Brenner for The Baltimore Banner)
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Meade boys basketball coach Mike Glick and his veteran staff drew up an intricate defensive stratagem for Broadneck, his squad’s opponent during Saturday afternoon’s Anne Arundel County championship game at Arundel High School.

But after watching the Bruins guard Jalen Carter bury four long-distance 3-pointers in the first half, Glick and Company went back to the drawing board and the result was a second consecutive county title through a 60-51 victory against the regular season champion Bruins.

“No. 5 (Carter) shot us out (of the initial Triangle-and-2 defense),” Glick said. “No. 5 shot extremely well. If we’re going to go out, we’ve got to go out guns ablaze. We’re an athletic team. We have the ability to play man. I thought that flipped the game.”

It most certainly did in the second half as the Mustangs (20-3), switching to a man-to-man defense, limited the guard-oriented Bruins to a mere 15 points going into the final minute of the contest to open up a 60-43 advantage with 46.3 seconds left in the contest. Broadneck (16-7) dropped in eight straight points, including two more 3-pointers from Carter (20 points), in those final 46 seconds as Glick emptied his bench.

“I thought it was the best man-to-man defense we played this year,” the Meade coach said. “We challenged the kids. We’re a zone team. We’ve been a zone team all year long. I thought we were engaged. We communicated. We were able to switch screens. Very, very impressed with our man-to-man defense.”

Leading by three points, 31-28, at halftime after a slow start to the contest–the Mustangs fell behind 6-0 on two Carter 3-pointers–Meade held Broadneck to eight points in the third quarter by limiting the Bruins to one shot per possession and those looks were usually under duress to push that advantage to 10 at 46-36 going into the final eight minutes of this championship matchup.

Broadneck closed the gap to 48-43 with 4:39 remaining on two free throws by Jordan Brown (15 points), but the Mustangs put the game away with a 12-0 run capped by four straight 1-and-1 free throws from Shawn Jones, who led all scorers with 26 points to go along with 13 rebounds and a block that led directly to a fast-break basket by Kyree Scott (14 points) to extend his team’s lead to 56-45 with around a minute left.

“We just locked in and crashed the boards together and got out on our outlets,” said Jones, who converted a loose ball into a layup in the closing seconds of the third quarter and had six fourth-quarter rebounds, including an offensive rebound off a missed teammate’s free throw that he converted into two points. “We knew we could open the offense and stretch the lead. We knew in the third quarter, that was going to be the turning point.

“We have a lot of experience this year, so we knew we were going to win two times in a row. It feels good right now, but in the playoffs, we’re back to it.”

Meade forward Xavion Roberson (11) looks to pass to a teammate during the Anne Arundel County Boys Basketball Championship game in Odenton, Md., on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Meade defeated Broadneck 60-51 in regulation time to win the championship. (Tom Brenner for The Baltimore Banner) (Tom Brenner for The Baltimore Banner)
Broadneck coach John Williams agreed with Jones’s assessment of Meade’s ability to control the offensive and defensive rebounding as a major reason his squad came up short Saturday despite taking a 13-9 lead in the first eight minutes.

“They beat us on the glass,” Williams said. “They got a lot of offensive rebounds and putbacks we weren’t able to overcome. It was tough to get big buckets in the second half. This is just going to get us better for the playoffs. I think we found that we’re a little bit deeper than we thought. Give them a lot of credit: they raised their level of play in the second half.”

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

MEADE 60, BROADNECK 51

Meade 9 22 15 14 – 60

Broadneck 13 15 8 15 – 51

Meade – Jaisean Kenner 8, Xavion Roberson 9, Kyree Scott 14, Shawn Jones 26, Zamar Jones 3. Totals: 24 8-16 60.

Broadneck – Jalen Carter 20, Jordan Brown 15, Jacob Aponte 3, Joey Smargissi 2, Aurion Johnson 1, Amare Jeffries 6, Kyle Miles 2, Grant Kelly 2. Totals: 19 5-11 51.

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By Varun Shankar February 18, 2023 at 8:56 p.m. EST

The Mustangs topped Broadneck to capture the crown in Anne Arundel County on Saturday. (Varun Shankar/TWP)

During a second-quarter timeout, Meade forward Shawn Jones told his teammates he was going to dunk.

The Mustangs had just called Stack, a play that set up a three-on-two and gave guard Xavion Roberson two options: find the shooter in the corner or feed the post. Roberson picked the latter and bounced a pass to Jones, who fulfilled his promise with a slam over a defender before briefly hanging on the rim.

Jones notched 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks as Meade won the Anne Arundel County championship Saturday afternoon, defeating Broadneck, 60-51, at Arundel High School.

The dunk kick-started Jones, he said, encouraging him to finish strong at the rim and get to the free throw line. Twenty-four of his points and all six of his free throws came in the last three quarters, but the slam also seemed to demoralize the Bruins.

“After the dunk, I just changed my whole mentality,” Jones said. “We knew that was a momentum-changer. Their players started arguing at each other and fussing at each other.”

Broadneck beat Meade by 16 when the teams first played on Feb. 8. Jones scored just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting in the loss and struggled to finish through contact. To prepare for the rematch, a Meade assistant coach hit Jones with a pad in practice to simulate the jolts he’d feel at the rim and to get him finishing toward the basket.

It worked. The Bruins threw multiple defenders at Jones but it didn’t matter as he closed them out by dominating inside.

Late in the game, with Meade up just five, he rebounded a missed free throw and put it back up for a layup. On the ensuing Bruins’ possession, he contested the shot and grabbed the rebound before feeding a teammate for an and-one that all but sealed the game.

While the win had no impact on the region standings and the playoff seeding, it meant a lot to the Mustangs.

Meade lost to Arundel in the county championship game last season — and although the Mustangs exacted revenge by beating those Wildcats later that year in the 4A region final, players wanted to bring home the school’s first boys’ basketball Anne Arundel championship since 2016.

Meade will take a couple days off to enjoy the win and then return to practice Tuesday preparing for elimination games, Coach Mike Glick said. The Mustangs could have lost this game and their season would have continued. That won’t be the case moving forward.

Meade will host until the state semifinals — the round it lost in last year to Churchill — if it continues to win. Its playoffs start Feb. 28 in the region semifinals against the winner of Old Mill and Arundel.

“We [know] that the season is dwindling down,” Jones said. “This is what we’re all meant for right here … just embrace the moment.”