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To run off with its third victory of the still-young season, Meade waded through a thick, tangled vegetation that was the La Plata defense. That’s why they needed a machete.
Through play-setting and a team-high scoring total, junior TJ Speight guided the young hosts over the Warriors 59-48, in the Route 175 Classic tournament.
Speight (23 points) knew he’d inherit the Mustangs’ reins after seniors Mahzi Thames and Tre Dunn, who both regularly led Meade (3-3) at the basket, graduated.
Just one month into the season, Speight can see coherency of his somewhat inexperienced squad, beginning to take shape out of practice and on the court.
“We could be a way better team than we are. We’re real young, but we can learn,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of athletic people on the team.”
Speight lit the torch in the first quarter, hooking in a pair of layups that spurred Meade before La Plata could shake off its shooting cobwebs.
Surrounding the junior was a scoring effort from a committee of marionets, with Speight pulling the strings. Nearly every Mustang on the floor contributed to a ball in the basket, after Speight set the play.
Speight, who’d always been one to hit the gas if he could last winter, broke away from the Warriors at one beat too, zipping across the court, flipping a pass to junior forward Jaden Cobb, who dropped it in.
“He’s a leader that knows when to be positive and also when to get on people, and I’m really, really proud of the way he’s taken the leadership role,” Meade coach Mike Glick said of Speight. “He’s taken every team’s best shot. Every team’s geared around him, trying to stop him.”
A minute before the buzzer, the Mustangs padded up a 10-point advantage, but just before the second quarter, Meade’s primary antagonist rolled up onto the perimeter and drained his 3-pointer.
The Warriors’ Stalin Oaks set fires everywhere he ran with the ball in the second half, and it was difficult for Meade to douse them all in time. And while Oaks popped in a pair of layups, which he capped off with a steal and another 3-pointer, the Mustangs moved through La Plata’s defense like they were walking knee-deep in snow.
When someone’s coached as long as Glick has, it’s not wholly uncommon to run across former members of his coaching staff who, of course, know exactly how to run a zone against their former mentor’s offense. La Plata coach Spencer Way, who served for over a decade under Glick at Gwynn Park, qualified.
“It’s always tough when you’re coaching against one of your former assistants – he knows what you’re running better than my players know what they’re running,” Glick said. “He did a great job, for a very well-played game.”
Though the Mustangs managed two treys of their own before halftime, helping to maintain an eight-point lead as time expired, many of their would-be shots fizzled in the fray of La Plata guards, who rushed Meade shots, blocked attempted layups and monopolized rebounds.
“We had to do a better job of passing and not dribbling; I thought we were trying to dribble too much,” Glick said. “We also missed some really short shots that, if we were able to make some of those shots, it’s going in a different direction.”
With all of its early-third quarter action limited to the foul line, Meade turned to its leader to steer the ship back on course – especially as the center La Plata’s offense, Oaks, flung a pass to a teammate without even looking to close the gap to four points, and teammate Joseph Cottle shaved it down to just one with his own 3-pointer.
“They’re just trying to follow behind me, whatever I do. They follow me,” Speight said. “If I’m not a leader, everybody on the team’s gonna fall.”
Speight hurled in a layup to give Meade a little space to breathe on the scoring board, and then, stripped La Plata of its ball, hurtled up the entire court and dropped in another.
After Cottle tried to open another La Plata run with a bucket from beyond the arc, Speight nipped it in the bud with another field goal, which senior Meikhi Adams complimented with his own three-point shot.
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The Mustangs practiced navigating heavy coverage repeatedly in practice, putting something over the hoop to hinder their shots, training the players to box out more, amp up their aggressiveness.
Speight made sure that energy was put in action.
“We had to shade the zone to the shooters,” Speight said. “They had a couple shooters that could shoot. … Don’t let them shoot, because obviously, they were hitting. Everybody boxes out their man, one person runs out for a bunny layup.”
As Meade carved out more room to move in the paint offensively, it needed to handle La Plata’s hottest shooter, too, if it wanted to put enough space between them in the fourth quarter.
For that, it enlisted guards Josh Bishop and Nick Haylock.
The two smothered Oaks, limiting his action to a single layup and a trio of free throws.
“They’re our best two defenders on the team. Without them,” Speight trailed off. “They’re soldiers. That’s their role. They know how to shove people down. Whoever their best player, that’s who they’ve got.”
It didn’t hurt to pepper in some free points either. Speight pulled opportunities at the foul line like he’d dunked himself in glue; La Plata players just kept sticking to him, and fouling, giving the junior guard the chance to post seven points of what ended up becoming an 11-point margin by game’s end.
“I’m proud of the way we battled. We were resilient and we got better tonight,” Glick said. “Christmas is all about getting better. Our goal’s just to get better and better, and to try and play your best basketball in March.”
Meade’s winning season ends
Mustangs upset Patriots, but fall to Bruins in region final in home game March 13, 2019 Jack Chavez Education, News 0 Old Mill's Kyjuan Johnson tries to keep the ball away from Meade's Mazhi Thames as he reaches to steal the ball Wednesday night.The Meade Mustangs’ incredible run to the state 4A East Region final came to a halt with a 78-47 loss to the Broadneck Bruins on Friday, just two nights after upsetting the reigning county champion, the Old Mill Patriots.Though it was an abrupt ending for a team that had set its eyes on the state semifinals, its deep playoff run bucked the conventional expectations of how a young team will fare in the postseason.The loss caps the Mustangs’ record at 19-6, besting last year’s output by three wins — and they did it with just two seniors on the roster.“The way we lost doesn’t distract from our season,” coach Mike Glick said. “Broadneck played phenomenally. They were the better team and if they [continue to] shoot like that, it’s going to be hard for them to lose many games.”Meade’s run to the region final was the deepest it’s advanced since making it there two years ago.
The Mustangs advanced to the state championship in 2015 and 2016, winning it all in 2015.But to even get to the region title game, Meade first had to vanquish a formidable and familiar foe.Getting It DunnIt was Tre Dunn’s night.Meade’s Tre Dunn looks for an open teammate during Wednesday’s game against Old Mill.The senior forward scored 17 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had eight blocks as Meade sunk Old Mill, 60-57, on March 6.Five weeks prior, Meade blew a halftime lead against the Patriots, due in part to a crucial technical foul against Dunn. It was the second such loss to its cross-county rival this year.That’s not how it played out in the third matchup.It wasn’t a strong start for Meade. Turnovers and clean looks that yielded no points forced the Mustangs into a 5-point hole after the first quarter.A bright spot during the quarter — and one for the whole game — was TJ Speight’s accuracy from downtown. Speight finished the game with five 3-pointers.Meade found its bearings in the second quarter with Dunn creating opportunities on defense.
They even held a 5-point lead before the Patriots surged back and took a 23-22 lead into halftime.Star senior guard Mazhi Thames had been held to just 3 points at that moment, but the Mustangs were determined to write a different ending.So they turned up the heat.Forward Omar Beatty came off the bench and created plays on both sides of the court. Thames came alive with a pair of crucial baskets. Old Mill still couldn’t contain Dunn. And Meade took a 39-34 lead into the fourth quarter.“I try to let them know, we’ve got to step up,” Speight said. “All our players need to step up because if we don’t [all] step up, we can’t win.”The starting five can’t win the game by themselves, Speight said.In the fourth quarter, Beattie, Thames and Dunn combined for 20 of the team’s 21 points before a dramatic finish.With 26 seconds remaining, the Mustangs led by 9 points before a pair of 3-pointers by Old Mill star Avion Robinson cut the lead to 3.Then, with just two seconds left, the Patriots stole an inbound pass from their baseline and a last-second, 3-point heave sailed off Robinsons’ fingers.It missed.And just like that, Meade avenged its prior defeats and sealed its date with Broadneck on Friday for the 4A East Region championship.Speight and Thames finished with 16 points apiece. Beatty contributed 11 points.Mustangs coach Mike Glick made a point to praise Beatty after the game.“Omar Beatty is a player who didn’t play for us for 10 straight games,” Glick said. “In the last two games, he has stepped up immensely and went from a guy who was not in the rotation to playing the whole second half.“He did a phenomenal job of finishing around the basket and playing good defense.”
The victory also marked the 500th career victory for the first-year Meade coach.Glick paused for a moment to reflect, saying that hitting the milestone was “surreal,” then quickly placed the focus back on his players.“Forget about everything with me personally,” Glick said. “To see where these kids have come from — and [how] they supported each other and cheered each other on — it’s the definition of a team. I just couldn’t be prouder.”Hitting The WallMeade simply didn’t have an answer for Broadneck’s aggressive style on Friday.Save for an 8-2 run halfway through the second quarter, the Mustangs struggled to string together any sort of success.“They hit shots,” Glick said. “We did not hit shots that we’ve hit most of the season. They shot the ball very, very well.“They’re a big team but I don’t think their size dominated us, per se. I think if anything, they’re an extremely experienced team who’ve played together [a while].”A raucous Broadneck home crowd certainly didn’t help. Glick acknowledged that challenge but said his team knew what to expect.“Broadneck has not been in this position many times and they’ve got great community support, the No. 1 seed and they definitely had a great home crowd, without question,” Glick said.“I just thought that it was a matter of we didn’t play well and Broadneck played exceptionally.”Speight led the Mustangs with 16 points and Beatty finished with 10 points.
Bright FutureFriday’s loss marked Meade’s farewell to senior co-captains Thames and Dunn. But looking ahead, Glick said there’s plenty to be excited about.Core players like Speight, Beatty and starting forward Josh Bishop are all sophomores, Glick pointed out. And the junior varsity team just finished at the top of its league.“I think our future is very, very bright,” Glick said. “We had a great season and I couldn’t have asked for more support from the families, players and administration in my first year.“I’m extremely proud of this team. I’m as proud of this team as any team I’ve coached. The fact that we got beat in the last game does not distract from what we just did.”
Mazhi Thames might have had a fond memory of last year’s Class 4A East Region Section I final, but the rest of his current teammates didn’t. Thames will have happy thoughts about this year’s game as well, as will the rest of his Meade teammates. Thames, who led Old Mill to a victory over Meade a year ago in the same game, returned to Meade this year and walked off the floor at Old Mill happy once again after his Mustangs held on for a 60-57 victory over the Patriots on Wednesday night at a sold-out gymnasium at Old Mill. Thames scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Meade, which had a nine-point lead with 26 seconds left, but still had to survive a last-second 3-pointer that would have forced overtime. Young leads Broadneck over North Point to region final “First half, I was settling for a lot of jumpers,” said Thames, who didn’t score his first points until midway through the second quarter. “In the second half, I just looked to get to the basket and get my teammates more involved.” Meade (19-5) advances to face Broadneck on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the region final. The Mustangs are shooting for their eighth region title and third since 2015.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “It’s a beautiful moment for me personally, and to see the way those kids have been unselfish all year long and how they had each other’s backs. It’s the definition of a team.” As thrilling as Wednesday’s win was in that it helped the Mustangs advance, it was also the 500th career win for Glick. “I’ve been coaching for a long time,” Glick said. “I’m just blessed to have phenomenal players, phenomenal coaches and a phenomenal administration and teachers who have bought in. It really hasn’t hit me yet.” Tre Dunn led the Mustangs with 17 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks, TJ Speight and Thames each added 16 points and Omar Beattie scored 11 points off the bench for Meade, which avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Patriots. Speight hit five 3-pointers in the first three quarters and helped the Mustangs take over the game after going into halftime down a point after the Patriots closed the first half on a 6-0 run. His final 3-pointer of the game came in the final minute of the third and pushed the lead to seven.
“Today was probably the best I ever shot,” he said. “We’ve been working real hard at practice and I’ve been telling the players we need to step up. If we don’t step up, we can’t win.” Dunn was consistent from the beginning. He had eight points in the first half and added nine more in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter. “It feels great. My whole team stepped up tonight, and that’s all we needed,” Dunn said. “We just needed the energy from our bench and all of our players.” Glick was sure to praise the play of Beattie, who scored nine of his points in the second half.
After Old Mill had pulled within four with just under two minutes left in the game, he scored four points in a 30-second span to push the lead back to eight. “He was a player that didn’t even play for us for 10 straight games and wasn’t even in the rotation,” Glick said. “In the last two games he has stepped up immensely. He went from not being a guy not in the rotation to playing the whole second half. He did a phenomenal job of finishing around the basket and played good defense.” Daevone Johnson and Avion Robinson concluded their stellar careers by combining for 46 of the Patriots’ 57 points. Johnson led the team with 24, while Robinson hit a pair of late 3-pointers that gave the Patriots a chance and finished with 22 points. They both played a role in the Patriots’ region title a year ago and helped them win the county championship game this year. “I’m proud of these guys and I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Old Mill coach Mike Francis said. “I was proud of the way the guys battled.” Glick said the Mustangs will surely celebrate the win, but will get back to work on Thursday for Broadneck.
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.”