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High School Sports

Mustangs' run halted in state final

Bob Hough
Contact Reporterbhough@capgaznews.com

COLLEGE PARK – Meade was involved in another lopsided game at the University of Maryland's Xfinity Center.

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, this time they were on the other end.

After a pair of blowout victories in last year's state tournament, the Mustangs won the school's first boys basketball state championship. They returned this year and eased past Walt Whitman into the final, but finally met their match in a 72-39 loss to Eleanor Roosevelt on Saturday in the Class 4A state final.

Eleanor Roosevelt also beat the Mustangs, 62-54, in the final of the Route 175 Holiday Classic at Meade on Dec. 30. The Raiders built a 17-point lead in the third quarter of that game, but the Mustangs fought back late and pulled to within five before falling.

Meade never got that close this time.

"You can tell they were very focused," Meade coach Pete Corriero said. "They were a lot more focused this time around."

Naji Marshall scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Raiders, who never trailed. Jaden Faulkner followed with 16 points and eight rebounds and Trent Bishop added 13 points and six assists to give the Raiders three starters in double figures.

The Raiders shot 63 percent from the field for the game and went 18 for 26 (69 percent) from the field in the first half. Most of the points came from inside against Meade's 2-3 zone.

"We played so well tonight. That was a really good team that we beat," Eleanor Roosevelt coach Brendan O'Connell said. "One of the big things we talked about early was don't settle for jump shots and get the ball inside, and they did a really good job of that."

Kodie Jackson scored nine points to lead Meade, which had its 14-game win streak snapped. The Raiders were intent on not letting Tristan Easton beat them and held Meade's all-time leading scorer to just six points.

"I've been going through that for the last three years, so I'm used to it," said Easton, on the special attention paid to him by the Raiders. "It's nothing new. I don't get frustrated, I just keep playing."

Eleanor Roosevelt (24-3) won its third state championship and second in the last four years. The Raiders also were playing in the final for the third time since 2012.

Meade (23-4) is the first county team to play in two straight state finals since Annapolis in 1989 and 1990. Southern played in consecutive finals in 1972 and 1973 and is the only county team to play in three straight, which it did in 1979-1981.

The Mustangs will graduate six seniors who helped the program win 83 games in four years after six straight losing seasons.

"They worked extremely hard. The only thing I'm upset about is there's no more practice with these guys," Corriero said. "They were a lot of fun. I'd much rather have the season end here than in a high school gym."

The teams traded baskets in the first minute, but Eleanor Roosevelt quickly took over with a 16-2 run and was well on its way to the title. The Raiders led by 18 points after one and by as many as 28 in the second quarter before going into halftime with a 38-13 lead.

The Mustangs didn't quit in the second half and actually outscored the Raiders, 15-12, in the third quarter. Meade was able to get as close as 22 in the quarter and trailed by 24 after three, but was only able to get as close as 22 early in the fourth.

Meade didn't help itself with its shooting in the first half. The Mustangs shot just 21 percent from the field in the half and were 26 percent for the game. The 39 points scored were the fewest scored for the Mustangs since a 52-35 loss to Glen Burnie in 2009.

Ultimately, though, the Mustangs lost the game on the inside. The Raiders scored 60 of their points in the paint compared to just 14 for the Mustangs.

"We knew coming in that they were a small team," said Bishop, who went 6 for 8 from the field. "We just tried to force the ball inside and go up strong."

Keith Duffin had eight points and a team-high seven rebounds and Josh Qualls followed with six points. They're two of the seniors who will depart and will open opportunities for a new cast of players looking to continue the team's recent winning trend.

"They got some big shoes to fill," Corriero said.

E. Roosevelt (24-3)24141222-72Meade (23-4)671511-39

Eleanor Roosevelt (72)

Marshall 9(1) 2-2 21; Dancy 3 0-2 6; Faulkner 8 0-1 16; Drummond 0 0-0 0; Bishop 6 1-3 13; A Okafor 0 0-0 0; Bryant 1 0-0 2; King 0 0-0 0; V. Okafor 2 0-2 4; J. Brown 0 1-2 1; Benjamin 1 0-0 2; Merrifield 0 0-0 0; Certain 0 0-0 0; Bailey 1 0-0 2; C. Brown 2(1) 0-0 5. TOTALS: 33(2) 4-12 72.

Meade (39)

Easton 3 0-0 6; Qualls 1 4-4 6; Sturdivant 2(1) 0-0 5; Duffin 2(1) 3-6 8; Elder 1 1-2 3; Huff 1 0-0 2; Washington 0 0-0 0;Black 0 0-0 0; Jackson 2 5-5 9. TOTALS: 12(2) 13-17 39.

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