‘Time to prove ourselves’: Meade boys basketball beats Wootton, 64-53, to reach state semifinals for second straight year

Posted by Michael Glick on Mar 09 2023 at 10:10AM PST

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.”


There are no comments for this announcement.