For the past season, Meade High School’s boys basketball team hustled up and down the court to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The effort shows in its 17-5 record, placing the Mustangs in the Anne Arundel County championship Tuesday night against the Old Mill Patriots.
The Patriots were ahead at halftime 30-26 and finished the game 57-54, securing the championship title.
The regular basketball season ended Friday night with the Mustangs playing the Patriots.
“It was a good atmosphere,” Mustangs coach Pete Corriero said. “Whenever we play at any point in the season, it’s a pretty crazy atmosphere, which is good because it brings out a lot of people.”
Although Friday’s game had no effect on county standings, both teams came to play.
“It was more of just playing a rival and playing for pride,” Corriero said.
Old Mill led by 19 points midway through the second quarter, but Meade bounced back, 68-61.
Meade senior Malcom Moses led the Mustangs with 21 points.
“Both teams played extremely hard,” Corriero said. “Both teams came out to win the game. When we play Old Mill, there’s always a lot of excitement.”
The team’s main focus for this season was consistency in play, whether shooting, defensive work or hustling on a breakaway.
“We pride ourselves on being up-tempo,” Corriero said. “We look to run every chance we get. This is a young team. … We want to build consistency so that when we come out each night, we don’t have to worry about the effort and performance we’re going to get.”
New Team Culture
Corriero has been the head coach of the Mustangs for eight years. Under his leadership, the basketball team has established a culture of hard work and perseverance.
“The program was in bad shape when I took over,” he said. “The first few years was about setting the tone for how we want the program to go. We really just wanted to establish the culture of the program with a hardworking mentality.”
To build this culture, Corriero cut players and gave younger team members more play time.
“Coaches all say the same thing, but you have to back up what you’re saying,” he said. “You can’t be scared to cut kids and make changes. We changed the culture and the attitude of the team.
“Everything is different. We have 14 players, and seven of them are on the honor roll this quarter.”
Of those 14 players, four are seniors, two of whom are International Baccalaureate students and two who take honors and advanced placement courses.
“The seniors have been excellent in terms of leadership,” Corriero said. “It’s all about setting an example and backing that up.”
Last year, seven players graduated, leaving the team with a number of holes in its lineup.
“We had to preach to the guys that while the program has had a lot of success, it’s now their time and that success isn’t guaranteed,” Corriero said. “You have to compete on every possession.
“We have to play extremely hard, and to their credit the effort of this group is always 110 percent.”
As the team prepares for playoffs, Corriero said his players strive to be playing their best basketball.
“In the playoffs you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s a one-and-done scenario. We just have to expect everything and match [the other team’s] intensity. I’m sure we’ll do that. I’m confident.”
Whatever the playoffs’ outcome, Corriero views the season as a triumph.
“The season is a success in my mind because we established that we are a force in the county,” he said. “The guys played hard, and we want to win in the playoffs and defend our regional title.
“Regardless of what happens, these guys showed that we belong competing with the best.”
Playoff game Tuesday
Meade High boys basketball’s first playoff game is Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the school gym.