To remain the only undefeated team in county play, Broadneck needed to check every box off its list.
Shut down Meade’s transition game, smother the post, grab rebounds. Corral top shooters Xavion Roberson and Shawn Jones, while also managing to pressure the perimeter and limit 3-pointers, all while turning up on offense when possible.
A lesser team might not have been able to accomplish a list so expansive. But Broadneck proved to be at a higher level.
The Bruins impeded the Mustangs at every turn on the way to a 58-42 final, handing Meade its first loss in 14 games, its first in-season county loss since Feb. 20, 2020. In the process, the Bruins toppled the Mustangs from the top of the standings. It’s a position Broadneck does not sit on comfortably, knowing full well the teams will likely meet again next Saturday in the county championships — but its a spot it currently treasures.
“We were 4-4 [in 2019] when we went to states. We were 4-4 this year,” Broadneck coach John Williams said. “As long as you can collectively keep the group together and focus and not have guys jump off the ship, usually by January you learn from your mistakes.”
December was not kind to the Bruins. Broadneck (16-4, 11-0 county) dropped games to both in- and out-of-county opponents, usually starting with a dramatic dropoff in the third quarter. But in January, when the county games count towards standings, the Bruins finally began to mesh. They began to trust each other. They set goals for each other: limit dribble-drive in the penetration, stop teams beating them from the outside and take care of offensive rebounds.
“A lot can be said for having gone through what we did,” Williams said.
Junior Jordan Brown embodied that metamorphosis , showering 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. He was an inevitability Meade (18-2, 10-1) just could not quell.
“He definitely has that type of potential,” Williams said. “One of the more polished players we’ve ever had in our program. When he’s in attack-mode like he was tonight, he makes everyone around him better.”
Meade certainly tried to steer the game from the start. Kesean Graham hit a pair of buckets from the exact same spot on the perimeter to boost the Mustangs’ 10-2 run while Shawn Jones backed him up on the glass.
“You can’t get down early. You do that, you’re going to lose automatically,” Brown said. “So, we stayed up. We fought back.”
Meade’s scorching start disappeared as Broadneck’s defense rendered the Mustangs unable to land anything. All the Bruins shooters had to do was chip away as the minutes whittled down in the first quarter.
They chipped at first, a little jumper here, a layup there, aided by Jalen Carter, who finished with 16 points. But the undefended, go-ahead basket by Brown and subsequent 3-pointer from Amare Jeffries was less chisel and more sledgehammer, whacking Meade’s momentum to pieces.
Broadneck grabbed its lead tight. Seven minutes passed before Meade managed a basket again, finding itself down, 21-13 midway through the second before regrouping. Pressure of a short shot clock forced Scott to swing the ball to Zamar Jones and the junior didn’t hesitate. His 3-pointer reenergized Meade and John Teague’s tying basket silenced the Bruins — or snapped them back to attention.
Scott’s 3-pointer gave Meade a 27-26 halftime lead, but the Bruins were not going to let the Mustans get comfortable.
Brown downed a bottle of red Gatorade at the break and hit the floor with a fury. If he wasn’t popping points from downtown, he was leading the pressure on the Mustangs offense alongside senior Michael Schwob.
“Now we got punched in the mouth. We won 14-straight games and sometimes you feel like you’re flawless and you’re not going to lose. Now, this humbles us.”— Meade coach Mike Glick
“He did a great job,” Williams said of the senior. “Defensively taking care of things, and rebounding. That was our Achilles’ heel early on: offensive glass and teams just played tougher than us.”
But not anymore. In the midst of that suffocation, Meade’s shots were off. Nothing at the arc was working and drives to the basket were rare. Foul trouble had been an unwelcome hangup late in important games this season for Meade, but on Wednesday, the Mustangs seemed to be plagued by everything else. If Mustangs like Jones or Scott were able to drive to the basket, Broadneck turned the momentum against them, plucking easy rebounds and running them back for a layup or yet another Brown 3-pointer.
“Coach emphasized we had to get back on defense and stop fast breaks,” Brown said. “Third quarters weren’t our greatest thing at first, but first two minutes, we have to jump on top of them before they do. That’s what we did.”
Even free throws, one of Meade’s consistent strengths this winter, failed — 2-for-11 in the second half.
“This is the worst we’ve shot this year,” Mustangs coach Mike Glick said.
The demolition of the third quarter that closed with Broadneck up 46-31, eased by the fourth. But by the time the Mustangs clamped a boot on Brown and drummed up a little offense, the chance was behind them. The seconds wound to zero and Broadneck stood alone at the top.
For Meade, the loss may be looked back on as a blessing. It’s something the Mustangs didn’t have in the regular season last year, and in the end, may have helped harden them to the kind of comeback Winston Churchill staged against them in the Class 4A state semifinals.
“Now we got punched in the mouth,” Glick said. “We won 14-straight games and sometimes you feel like you’re flawless and you’re not going to lose. Now, this humbles us.”