Underdog Meade tries Cole again

Surprising Mustangs face Quince Orchard tonight

Boys basketball

March 09, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Meade wasn't supposed to be playing this late.

But the 16th-ranked Mustangs will tip off at 7 tonight at Cole Field House against Gaithersburg's 23-2 Quince Orchard in the Class 4A state boys basketball semifinals.

No. 2 Southern-Baltimore (20-5) will play Washington's third-ranked Oxon Hill (22-3) in the other 4A semifinal at 9 p.m. The survivors will play again at the University of Maryland for the state trophy at 8 p.m. Saturday.

"I've been telling everybody, we're kind of like a red-haired step-child," said coach Butch Young, in his 23rd season as Meade's only coach and 33rd in Anne Arundel County.

Meade (17-8) is making its second straight trip to the final four and fifth overall, but the Mustangs weren't supposed to be going. Then, favored No. 18 Westminster (20-3) and No. 17 North County (17-7) were upset in the Class 4A East regionals before Meade surprised 16-9 Severna Park, 71-63, for the region championship.

Meade got to the final by downing 9-14 Old Mill, 61-55, and 10-14 Arundel, 62-59, on Doug Underwood's 40-footer at the buzzer.

Underwood, a 6-foot-2 junior whose 20.4 points a game led county public schools in scoring and who shot 57.8 percent from the floor, scored 20 points and hauled in 17 rebounds in the region final.

"That might have been the first time this season we out-rebounded somebody," said Young, who is concerned about his guard-oriented team's lack of size against Quince Orchard, fifth-ranked in metro Washington. "We are guard oriented, and one of our weak points is inside defense and rebounding."

The Mustangs used 6-3 senior Marcus Roseboro (7.6 points, 6.4 rebounds) and 6-3 sophomore Kenny Johnson in the paint this season. They will need help again inside from Underwood (6.2 rebounds a game) against Quince Orchard.

The 4A West-champion Cougars use a three-guard offense with 6-6 senior Greg Rector (19 points, 16 rebounds) and 6-5 junior Javon Saulter (10 points, nine rebounds) in the post.

Their senior backcourt trio of Mandel Frazier (16 points, five assists), Jose Navarro, and Thaddius Pope is aggressive, combining for 32 points, four three-pointers and eight steals a game.

"I just don't know how quick their guards are, but I know they play the majority of the game, and they don't sub much," said Young.

It's imperative that Underwood and 5-6 senior point guard Eric Brown (11.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.1 steals) contain the Cougars' quickness and, thus, the tempo.

"We've been there before, so nerves should not be a factor, and we've been the underdog all season," said Underwood.

Like Meade, Quince Orchard has never won a state title. Its only other final-four appearance at Cole was in 1991.

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