The Meade Mustangs bench jumped to their feet as teammate Malcolm Moses canned another 3-pointer.
As the ball swished through the hoop, the home team fans went wild, stomping their feet, clapping their hands and celebrating Meade’s sudden lead in the Class 4A East Section I semifinal basketball game against the Glen Burnie Gophers on February 28.
The third-quarter bucket catapulted Meade to a 66-54 win.
After losing both games to Glen Burnie in the regular season, Meade coach Pete Corriero knew that to win the game, the team had to shut down the Gophers’ key players, Dayvon Cuffey and Troy Smoot.
“We wanted to win the game because they beat us,” Corriero said. “Naturally, we’re competitive. We knew where their offense flows through and it’s Dayvon Cuffey. He’s very good. So, we knew we had to take him out. We knew Smoot was a really good shooter. We knew we had to take charges on Markell Watkins and we did all of those things.”
Moses and teammate Jeremy Washington hit shot after shot to secure a Mustang victory. Washington led the team with 19 points, while Moses put up 17. Mahzi Thames contributed 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals for Meade.
“We were able to execute on offense, we were able to make shots,” Corriero said. “… Our defense is good; the effort with this group is phenomenal.”
Watkins led Glen Burnie with a team high of 14 points. Cuffey put 13 on the board for the Gophers.
Taking The Lead
At the half, Meade led 30-25. The Gophers worked hard to even the score in the third quarter and went ahead, 36-35.
“We were able to get a lead and once we were able to get the lead, we were able to maintain the lead, even when they got close,” Corriero said. “I think they took the lead by 1 in the third [quarter] and we responded timely. Our guys played a really, really good game.”
The Mustangs pulled ahead at the end of the third quarter, 49-36.
Going into the fourth with a 13-point lead, the Mustangs played strong defense and smart offense to maintain their lead. As the seconds ran out, the stands erupted in celebration. The scoreboard read 66-54.
“We just came out and played as a team,” Washington said after the game. “We did what we did in practice, kept our focus and played great defense.”
Ready To Win
Meade hits the road as they face county rival Old Mill March 2 at 7 p.m. for the section final.
“It’ll be the fourth time [we’ve played this season],” Corriero said. “Every time it’s been tight. Every time it’s been a stressed environment. Both teams are playing really, really hard. It’s good for the county to see another slugfest between the top two teams.”
Moses is ready to lead the Mustangs to victory.
“We’re just coming out to play as a team,” he said. “Everybody is trying to contribute and just play the best basketball they can play so we can play Saturday at regionals.”
The Mustangs won the regular season finale, but the Old Mill Patriots took the county championship title.
For Washington, the encouragement of his coaches and the school has propelled the team forward during the season.
“The support from the coaching staff is awesome,” he said. “I really want to thank our school. Even through the tough losses, they always come out every night, cheering us on because they believe in us so much.”
Mustang Tyler Jiles is looking forward to his team’s continued success as they advance in the playoffs.
“I’m really excited,” he said about the next playoff game. “I think now we’re really coming together and playing as one. We’re playing for each other now.”