SILVER SPRING - Like a baseball closer toeing the rubber looking to stymie a late rally to close out the victory, Meade High senior guard Kyree Scott stepped to the free throw line with his team clinging to a 56-51 lead with 16.3 seconds left in Wednesday’s 4A state boys basketball semifinal.
A year after a blowing a double-digit second half advantage in the same stage, the Mustangs saw another big advantage evaporate. The Mustangs had converted just 11 of 26 free throws Wednesday when Scott stepped to the line with the Sherwood faithful frantically trying to distract him.
Scott reversed that trend and exercised the memory of last year’s collapse, calmly burying two double-bonus free throws as the No. 15 Mustangs advanced with a 58-51 victory over the Warriors from Montgomery County at Montgomery Blair.
Scott led Meade (24-3 overall) with 17 points and senior post Shawn Jones added 13. Vincent Frene and Evin Thompson each finished with 14 points for Sherwood.
Meade is headed to the state final for the first time since 2016. The Anne Arundel County champs will play fifth-ranked Parkville for the 4A crown, Saturday at 8 p.m. at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.
The Mustangs were able to punch their ticket to College Park after avoiding another state semifinal collapse. Last year, Meade had a 14-point lead early in the third quarter before Montgomery County’s Churchill rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs rebounded, taking the lead late in regulation, but Churchill made just enough plays to claim a 55-50 victory at Henry A. Wise.
Wednesday evening in Silver Spring, Meade led 48-33 entering the final eight minutes of regulation. The Warriors, converting off turnovers and hard drives to the basket, trimmed down the Mustangs’ sizable margin.
Meade was only 4-of-11 in the quarter from the free throw line when Scott toed the free throw line with 16.3 seconds left in regulation of a two-possession game.
“For 10 minutes at the end of practice, we work on free throws,” said Scott. “We have the sound player on, so I’ve been there before. I’ve got to seize the moment. That’s all that happened. I’m glad we got over the hump. We took this game as a get-back to the state finals.”
After a slow start, Meade gained a 16-11 lead after one quarter of play behind a 14-3 run sparked by 6 points from Scott and back-to-back 3-pointers by Zamar Jones and KeSean Graham to erase an 8-2 deficit. Both defenses stiffened in the second quarter resulting in 17 total points with the Mustangs entering halftime with a 26-18 lead.
Meade ballooned its cushion to 19 points in the third, consistently attacking the basket both in its halfcourt offense and in transition, with the versatile Jones pouring in seven of 13 points on a combination of halfcourt looks, a fastbreak layup, and two free throws while being fouled on a break.
“We knew in the first quarter, it was going to set the tone for everybody,” said Jones, who ripped down 10 rebounds and helped break Sherwood’s press with his ability to bring the ball up the court. “We knew if we got the lead, it was going to be a hard-fought battle (for Sherwood) to come back. We just believed in each other and just executed.”
The Mustangs looked poised to easily punch their fourth state final ticket after Xavion Roberson’s runner gave them a 15-point lead midway through fourth, but Sherwood scored 13 of the game’s next 17 points to trim the deficit to 4 with 59.9 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws by Frene.
Frene produced 7 of his 14 points during the run that included a handful of turnovers by the Mustangs against their opponent’s full court press. Jones halted that rally by making 1 of 2 double bonus free throws.
Scott then rebounded an errant 3-point attempt by Thompson and was fouled, leading to his game-clinching free throws.
“We most definitely did (miss a lot of free throw attempts),” Jones said. “We knew it was going to be a free throw game at the end. If we knock down at least one of the two, we knew we were going to play defense, get the ball back, and get to the free throw line.”
“We’ve had some close games this season,” Meade coach Mike Glick said. “I did not think about, you know, what happened last year in the moment until the game was over, but I’m really, really proud of how we stuck together and how we executed toward the end of the game, knocked down some big-time free throws.”
Since leaving Wise after the disappointing loss in last year’s state semifinals, it’s been College Park or bust for Meade, which returned a major portion of its roster this season.
The Mustangs will play Parkville in an all-Baltimore area championship finale. The Knights defeated Montgomery County’s Gaithersburg, 71-58, in the other 4A semifinal, played at Wise.
Meade last won a state championship (4A) in 2015.
“Last year, we didn’t have the chance to do that (play in the state final). My heart breaks for our kids last year, especially our seniors, who didn’t get to experience that . . . so, I’m really, really happy that these kids, these nine seniors we have, have a chance to play their last game at the University of Maryland,” said Glick.
“It’s a pleasure (to make the state final)...We worked for this moment. We’re just going to stay humble and not settle,” said Jones. “Get back to practice and get ready for the state final on Saturday.”
CLASS 4A STATE SEMIFINAL
at Montgomery Blair
NO. 15 MEADE 58, SHERWOOD 51
Sherwood - Vincent Frene 14, Evin Thompson 14, Fontaine Green 5, Isaiah Smith 3, Chris Hall-Taylor 6, Micah Webb 6, Mason Eller 3. Totals: 18 10-15 51.
Meade - Kyree Scott 17, KeSean Graham 7, Zamar Jones 3, Shawn Jones 13, Lucaya Baldridge 6, John Teague 3, Xavion Roberson 9. Totals: 22 13-28 58.
Sherwood 11 7 15 18 - 51
Meade 16 10 22 10 - 58