Danny Sancomb and Tommy Stevens must be exhausted these days, seeing how far they've come in the past few years.
After getting cut from the junior varsity as freshmen, the two Meade seniors have made enormous strides in their transformation from scrubs to subs to starters. Now, they find themselves as major contributors on a Mustangs team longing for an invitation to Cole Field House and a berth in the Class 4A state championships.
"When they tried out for the team as freshmen, Tommy was a skinny kid and he ended up being team manager, and Danny was a short, little fat kid who wound up wrestling that year," said Meade coach Butch Young, whose squad locked up the top region seeding and the first-round bye after its 62-48 win Thursday over No. 19 Glen Burnie. "But, they both came back as sophomores and they still weren't that good, but they hustled so much and tried so hard on defense that I kept them on the team.
"They ended up being the Nos. 16 and 17 players on a 15-player team. I didn't even have jerseys for them, but as the season went on, some people got hurt, and they got their uniforms."
Now, Young asks, "Where are those other 15 players?" Of course, some graduated and others went their respective ways in the transient life of a military family, but Sancomb and Stevens stayed and never stopped trying.
Stevens says it was something Coach Young said that kept his hopes alive.
"Coach Young has always looked out for his players, and, even though he didn't know me that [freshman] year, he told me to keep trying," Stevens said. "He said, 'A lot of guys get cut so don't get down on yourself. Keep practicing and come out next year.' "
Neither let him down, and by their junior years, both were on the varsity and accepting their roles as reserves.
This season they're both starters, and Young couldn't be more proud.
Sancomb, who is leading Meade in scoring with an 18.1-point average a game, scored a team-high 24 points in Meade's last victory over Glen Burnie. The 6-foot swingman had 20 points
in a 72-61 victory over Old Mill, another 20 against Severna Park and Westminster and 31 points and nine rebounds in a tough 67-62 loss to Annapolis.
"Danny does everything," Young said. "He plays great defense off the ball, he moves well without the ball and he's our leading rebounder, which is unbelievable. He's just always in the right place at the right time."
Stevens agreed, adding, "Danny just has a knack for the game. He can doing everything. He's definitely not a one-dimensional player."
Stevens' statistics this season aren't as impressive, but his contributions weigh evenly. He's the Mustangs' assist leader, averaging 4.5, and he's also Meade's most consistent from the foul line, averaging 84 percent.
Scoring never has been Stevens' forte, but his 5.6 points a game and his trademark defense often have been the difference this season in a county league not lacking parity. "I know I play good defense, and I pride myself on my defense," said Stevens, who has 47 steals. "Even if I'm not scoring, I know I can always play good defense."
Said Sancomb: "My goal is to go out every game and do the little things like getting rebounds and assists. I know if I do the little things the points are going to come."
It's that kind of attitude that will make it hard for Young to say goodbye to these two when Meade's season comes to an end -- despite when or where. "It's been a pleasure to coach these guys because both of them are such students of the game," Young said. "I'd like to say that they're both overachievers, but I find it hard to call them that when they go and get the job done every night. What they've done this year has been kind of amazing. They've just come a long way."