Home, not so sweet, home

Brian Burns of Fort Meade takes a shot over Desmond Harris of Bethesda during a basketball match between the Fort Meade Patriots and the Bethesda Warriors on Saturday at Murphy Field House. The Patriots lost 92-70. (Photos by Daniel Kucin Jr.)

The last time the Fort Meade men’s varsity basketball team played at home, they had just nailed down their third straight win to start the Washington Area Military Athletic Conference season.

After six games on the road, in which the team went 3-3 and secured a second place finish in the 2017 Capitol Classic Tournament, the Patriots were ready to come home. Two victories over the weekend would mean a possible move into first place.

But, it wasn’t to be.

On Saturday at Murphy Field House, the Patriots fell to NSA Bethesda, 92-70. Fort Meade had previously beaten Bethesda by 7 points while on the road.

Sunday’s game was much more competitive, but the Patriots lost to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, 72-69. That was the Patriots’ second loss to Myer-Henderson this season.

Patriots head coach Ronny Cunningham had great hopes for the team before the weekend’s defeats.

“I thought we had momentum coming out of the Capitol Classic,” he said. “We got to the championship game in that big 16-team tournament, which is the biggest tournament left in the Army. We did pretty well. I was proud of my guys.”

After the weekend, Cunningham said everyone has to work harder — including himself.

Keenan Bennett of the Fort Meade Patriots makes a move during Saturday’s home game against the Bethesda Warriors.

“We had a lot of turnovers [Sunday],” he said. “… We just let shooters shoot knowing they’ll take the shot and that’s my fault. I got to work on that. I have to get them better prepared.”

Instead of first place, the Patriots are in fourth place with three regular season games remaining.

Cunningham believes the remaining games are winnable.

“Right now we’re 6-5,” he said. “If we can [win next] weekend’s games, we’ll be 8-5. Then we’ll be on the road at Langley, to finish 9-5.

“If we had [won] the last two games, we would be sitting in first place. … We just have to move forward. I still want them to try and finish out strong.”

The Patriots will face Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst at Murphy Field House this weekend.

On March 9, the team will travel to Joint Base Langley-Eustis for a make-up game to wrap up the regular season.

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Fort Meade Patriots, but opportunities remain in the post season.

“Once you get to the conference tournament, everybody is 0-0,” Cunningham said. “You still want to finish any regular season going into a conference tournament with momentum. So we’ve got to get it back.”

This weekend’s home games are Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Murphy Field House.

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