By Alan H. Feiler, Staff Writer
Nothing seems to stand in the way of these ‘Stangs.
On March 4, the Meade High Mustangs boys varsity basketball team defeated the Annapolis High Panthers 62-59 in the Class 4A East Region final at Meade High School.
The Mustangs (22-3) are now headed to the state semifinals for the second straight year.
Last March, the team beat the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons 80-45 to win the 4A Boys State Basketball Championship. It was the first time since 1990 that an Anne Arundel County high school team won a state championship.
Meade High will face Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High School Vikings (17-9), winners of the West Region final, tonight at 7 at the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The winning team of that matchup will play against either the Eleanor Roosevelt High Raiders or the Perry Hall High Gators in the 2016 Boys State Finals on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Xfinity Center.
If the Mustangs win the finals, it would mark the first time that an Anne Arundel County team won a second straight title.
“It was a great win for us,” Mustangs coach Pete Corriero said about the March 4 victory. “I’m very proud of my guys.”
The star of that game was Meade shooting guard Tristan Easton, who scored 20 points and snagged seven rebounds.
With one minute and 36 seconds left in the game, the Mustangs trailed the Panthers 59-56. But the team scored the final 6 points to become the first county team since the Old Mill High Patriots in 2005-2006 to win two straight East Region finals.
Ten of Easton’s points were scored in the fourth quarter, including a layup that started the 6-0 run that ended the game.
Point guard Keith Duffin scored 16 points for Meade, including a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left in the game. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Nothing has come easy to us this season,” Corriero said. “We’ve had a lot of close games. It’s been a different kind of year for us.
“Last year, we won games by a lot of points. This year, the games have been much closer. But that’s OK. It keeps things interesting.”
Corriero offered high praise for the Panthers.
“They have a lot of pride and played really well. They’re the New York Yankees of the Anne Arundel league,” he said. “But my guys didn’t give up. A lot of people would have given up, but we’ve been here before and we know what it takes.
“When your back is against the wall, you have to execute. But they didn’t panic, and I’m proud of them.”
Corriero refused to make predictions about how the Mustangs will fare against Walt Whitman High tonight.
“At this point in the season, you’re playing against the best teams out there, so there is no favorable matchup,” he said. “If you got this far, you’re a very good team.
“We’re just excited to be playing against them. It should be a good game”
Similarly, Corriero refrained from predicting if his team will win its second consecutive state championship.
“Right now,” he said, “we just want to win on Thursday night. That’s all we’re focusing on right now.”