COLLEGE PARK — If Meade boys basketball could have just kept doing what won them the second quarter, it’d be the Mustangs holding up the Class 4A trophy Saturday night.
Instead, for three quarters, Meade played as the team Parkville forced them to be. The ones that couldn’t stop the Knights from playing the game they wanted to play. The last step in the Knights’ story, rather than the other way around.
Falling 72-56 in the championship proved just how dangerous Meade’s final opponent truly was. But the score hardly reflected the true nature of the game, and moreover, did not wipe out what Meade boys basketball had done. The Mustangs lost in the state semifinals last year, graduated some key seniors, but chose to improve and go a step farther, becoming state runners-up.
“It’s been amazing. The season, the rollercoasters, it started off tough, but we stayed together,” senior Xavion Roberson said. “We worked through everything, communicated, and I felt like we got better. To be where we are today, win or loss, I’m thankful for it.”
The loss didn’t negate what the Mustangs had been to its community this winter.
Coach Mike Glick knows the pain his team feels now, but couldn’t feel more pride for the role his nine seniors played in the halls of Meade High School.
“It’s great because our school’s gotten a lot of negativity,” senior Kyree Scott said. “For me, everything we’ve done with basketball has been a good thing.”
Senior John Teague felt the doubt from others originally. But to feel the love outpouring all year long proved that what he and his teammates had done was convince everyone to believe in them, regardless of the outcome.
It’s that kind of love, both from community and from the team itself, that inspired Teague to put down two 3-pointers to help spark Meade’s one-and-only run of the night.
“They started pushing me. Coach Glick started to push me, to push me to go harder than what I was doing last year,” Teague said, “and I thank him for that.”
[ Parkville reaches ultimate goal of the program's first state championship ]
It wasn’t the cavernous expanse of the college court that fazed Meade. It wasn’t the pressure of all they’d done to get here, and how it would end with the second-place trophy if they didn’t put it to good use. It was just their opponent.
Meade had seen no one quite like Parkville in the county this year: unless it looked in a mirror. The Knights moved quickly up the floor. They forced and capitalized on turnovers. They made big blocks, shot game-changing 3-pointers over and over again (8-for-20). They owned the glass and the paint. Parkville funneled away 12 points on second chances, and an incalculable more on loose balls that, in any other game, Meade would be the one coming up with.
“You might feel worse if you played horribly, but I give Parkville a lot of credit,” Glick said. “They moved the ball exceptionally well.”
Senior Shawn Jones seemed the only antidote to the Knights’ play sometimes, shooting 71.5% from field goal range and perfect (5-for-5) from the line for 25 points, as well as 11 rebounds.
The 6-foot-6 senior stood tall in the first quarter and in the last two. It showed just how much he’d grown into what Meade needed him to be.
“I wanted to play with a lot of confidence and believe in myself,” Jones said. “I knew that if I played good, everyone else would feed off that energy. I could get my teammates the ball on offense. On defense, I could block shots and grab long rebounds.”
After trailing 21-13 after one, Meade had Parkville’s master plan under control. For a quarter.
Teague’s attacks sparked Meade’s 10-2 run, and senior KeSean Graham followed his lead. The Mustangs forced Parkville to rush shots and turn the ball over. Meade led 29-26 at halftime.
But in the third quarter, the Mustangs could hear the water rushing toward them. It had the defenses to hold them back. Graham’s 3-pointer seemed to stop Parkville’s run.
They were wrong.
Parkville not only reclaimed its power at the perimeter, outscoring Meade 21-7 to give itself a 49-41 lead. But a deficit Meade could manage. Losing Roberson, who suffered his third and fourth fouls in the third quarter, it could not.
Roberson, who scored 10 points Saturday, ran the point all season. To have to repeatedly bench him and gingerly use him when he was on the floor stole the beginnings of Meade’s drives.
“We stopped attacking the basket the second half. The zone they put on us was very effective,” Glick said.
Meade fell behind 63-53 in the final minutes. Just when hope flared in Jones’ 3-point play, Parkville’s Cayne Woodland (23 points) drained a 3-pointer.
With it fell Jones’ face. A minute remained, but there would be no heroics. There would be turnovers, missed shots and Mustang fouls. And silver medals.
“This is not the outcome we wanted, but we just have to keep our heads up,” Jones said. “This is a lesson, not a loss.”