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Big third quarter helps Meade get by Glen Burnie

In recent losses to Broadneck and Old Mill, Meade’s boys basketball team struggled mightily in the third quarter. The Mustangs could not afford a similar effort Friday evening with a hot Glen Burnie team coming into their gym. Meade coach Mike Glick challenged his team to respond at halftime.

His star players got his message loud and clear.

Mazhi Thames made three 3-pointers and scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the quarter, as the Mustangs used a dominant third period to knock off the Gophers, 66-48.

“Our two losses to Old Mill and the loss to Broadneck, we got run out of the gym in the third quarter,” Glick said. “I told them at halftime, ‘You are never going to beat the better teams if you cannot come out and seize the moment.’ They responded with their best third quarter of the season. They played with emotion and passion, and I thought the 2-1-2 was effective for us.”

The Gophers (14-5) had won eight of nine since a 15-point setback against these same Mustangs, and they were ready and game for a long night. Kennedy McKissic and Mehki Simmons combined to score all 14 of Glen Burnie’s first-quarter points to take one point-lead, and the teams were knotted at 21 midway through the second. McKissic led Glen Burnie with 15 points and seven rebounds and Simmons had 13 points and nine rebounds.

But Thames took control late in the quarter, finishing with 10 points in the period, including a jumper at the buzzer that gave Meade a 30-24 lead. He had 16 points in the first half.

“The county now is all about matchups,” Thames said. “The top four to five teams, it is all about how you play each night. We came out hard and strong.”

The Mustangs came out in the third harder and stronger. When Thames rebounded a missed free throw and smoothly slipped back behind the corner arc for a 3-pointer and followed it up minutes later by slowly walking up to his defender and drilling another trey, everyone on the court just had to shake their heads.

“When a guy is hitting shots from across the volleyball line with a hand in his face, what can you do?,” Glen Burnie coach Mike Rudd said. “I watched a lot of film and he had not been making shots lately. Well, he made them tonight. They did not miss in the third quarter, and we could not buy a bucket.”

Glick was effusive in praise of his senior leader.

“Mazhi is the best offensive player I have had since Rudy Gay,” Glick said. “He does things you cannot teach.”

While Thames was lighting up the scoreboard, Tre Dunn was closing up shop at the other end. As critical as Thames’ scoring prowess is, Dunn’s shot-altering capability played just as big a role in Meade’s win. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“Coach was intense with us about getting back on defense and we did a good job backing each other up,” Dunn said. “We don’t take anything light and we did a good job getting the ball inside and out all game.”

Glick concurred.

“Mazhi had the most points tonight, but Tre was the most dominant player,” Glick said. “He alters the game with his shot blocking and his ability to guard the paint is a game changer. There is no way we are a 15-win team without his defensive presence.”

Dominick Williams finished with eight points and five rebounds for Glen Burnie. The Gophers started strong from the line by making six of their first seven, but finished shooting just 50 percent (15 for 30) from the charity stripe.

“When we got fouled, we could not make the shots,” Rudd said. “But Mazhi was the difference. He hit shot after shot.”

That 1-2 combo of Thames and Dunn is critical with the playoffs looming. With five teams within a couple games of each other heading into the final stretch, this is arguably the most parity the county has had in years.

“This is a league that is extremely balanced,” Glick said. “It comes down to who hits their shots. They were a little cold tonight; I’ve seen them play where it feels like they hit everything. We had a little chip on our shoulder after the past couple of games and I thought we responded very well.”

Rudd agreed with the observation on the county’s parity, but he is only worried about one thing.

“We were pretty much eliminated from the county championship game, but I don’t care about that,” Rudd said. “We want to make sure we are ready to go for the playoffs.”

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