Nothing fazes the members of the Meade boys basketball team.
Whether leading Southern by 16 to battling to maintain that lead, the Mustangs remained mild as May. They showcase trust in one another in passes through traffic, in boxing out on offensive rebounds, in maintaining leads.
And why not? It’s gotten them this far.
Led by versatile junior Xavion Roberson, the Mustangs cruised to their seventh win in a row, a 74-47 victory over the Bulldogs to Improve to 8-0 in county play.
“It’s one of the most together teams I’ve coached in 34 years,” Meade coach Mike Glick said after his team improved to 8-1 overall. “They play for each other. There’s no selfishness whatsoever. The kids are totally bought in.”
When Glick and his staff lay critiques on their players mid-game, the Mustangs visibly absorb it. There’s never a complaint, the coach said. Even when Meade limited its rotation Tuesday, the bench supported without protest.
It’s a team, Glick said, that is truly pleasurable to coach. That translates directly to the floor.
“We just play off each other,” said Roberson, who had 18 points. “We don’t care who scores. We just want to win the game.”
Meade is no more fortunate than anyone in Anne Arundel in that it lost practically every player from last season. This year’s group meshed quickly. Junior John Teague remembers that bond they felt with one another from the very first day of practice.
“We’re a good team. We work together, play together, practice hard with each other,” said Teague, who had 16 points. “We’re trying to get to the top. We’re trying to get a championship.”
If it wasn’t for Southern’s cold shooting early, the Mustangs would’ve found themselves stuck in a hole. Once Meade relaxed, Roberson, Shawn Jones and Kyree Scott began to push in the paint and flick in easy layups. Their box-and-one defense quickly frustrated the Bulldogs, who quickly lost their early pace.
Suddenly smothered under an 18-4 score, Southern made an effort to pressure its guests under the net. Try as they might, though, the Bulldogs could not successfully box out.
“Going into the end of the first quarter, we had ‘em,” Roberson said.
Where there was wealth with Meade’s top scorer, Roberson, there was famine with Southern’s. Senior and Division I hopeful Larry Bulluck stamped 20-plus-point performances throughout the season. But for a time, Bulluck was locked down Tuesday.
Roberson approached Glick before the game and demanded to guard Southern’s best player.
“I love that. It’s showing leadership on his part,” Glick said. “And he did an outstanding job.”
Guard Aureon Johnson hit Southern’s first two 3-pointers of the game, kicking off an 11-0 Bulldogs run at the top of the second that cut the deficit to 10. Senior Chris Thomas followed suit hitting a 3-pointer.
Most of the quarter slipped away from Meade before Roberson settled in and drilled Meade’s first triple. And it appeared he’d sparked the life again when senior Andre Campbell complimented him with a basket.
Then, Bulluck finally had his say: a 3-pointer, a steal-to-layup and then another trey. He finished with 12 points.
Leading 33-25 at halftime, Meade’s lead showed cracks. Rather than fretting, Meade’s staff adjusted – shading towards Thomas, for instance.
Really, there’s one thing that keeps them stable.
“We just feel like we’re the best,” Roberson said.
The Mustangs patched the holes, stringing confident passes for baskets, powerful box-outs for baskets and stripping Bulldogs for baskets.
While Southern didn’t wither away entirely, Meade gardened its double-digit control through the third quarter and took a 50-33 lead.
But all the things Meade excelled in, it put on full display in the fourth. The Mustangs carved daring runs through Southern’s defense and when those shots didn’t land, players like Jones and Teague bodied Bulldogs down to hit the putback.
“Shawn and John compliment each other excellently. John’s the heart and soul of our team,” Glick said, “a great rebounder and unselfish kid. Sometimes he’s too unselfish and he compliments Shawn because Shawn’s more of a lengthy, inside blocker. It’s great to have two big men that are totally different.”
The players nodded understandingly at their assistant coach, Mike Francis, when he said, “The score of the game doesn’t matter. It’s how we finish.”
That mentality stretches beyond this game. As Teague said, there is one goal. They won’t get cocky in their abilities, no matter how confident in them they are.
“It’s really the heart,” Teague said. “What we put on the court.”
Added Roberson, “It’s the bigger picture. We know what to do to get there.”