In a match-up of two schools that have never won a state title, Meade put up a valiant effort, but the inside game of Quince Orchard was the difference as the Mustangs suffered a 57-50 defeat in the Class 4A semifinals at University of Maryland's Cole Field House.
The Cougars' pair of 6-foot-6 post players, senior Greg Rector and junior Javon Saulter, led their team into Saturday's 8 p.m. final in the 67th annual state tournament vs. the winner of the Southern-Oxon Hill semifinal.
Rector had game high totals of 19 points, 13 boards and three snuffed shots while Saulter scored a dozen points to go with eight rebounds as the Cougars (24-2) outrebounded the Mustangs, 40-31.
Senior guard Mandel Frazier launched a pair of threes and chipped in with 12 points for the Cougars.
The decided difference however was on the Meade offensive end where they were outrebounded by a whopping 21-7 and the Cougars scored 26 points inside, not counting several short pull-up jumpers in the paint.
Leading 27-23 at the half, Quince Orchard scored their first five baskets and 12 of 14 points overall in the third period to take a 41-38 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Unable to put the Mustangs away with two 11-point leads in the first half and a pair of nine-point deficits in the second half, Quince Orchard could not deliver the knockout punch as Meade held on until the bitter end.
"They were so much bigger inside and we didn't execute, " said Meade head coach Butch Young. "Every time we would get back, we wound going right back and missing easy shots. It was kind of like we were trying too hard."
It marks the first time 13-year old Quince Orchard (24-2) advanced to the state championship, their only other appearance in 1991 ended in the semifinals.
Montgomery County was not very good to Anne Arundel County yesterday sweeping Meade and Annapolis before that in the 3A semifinals as Paint Branch upset the previously unbeaten Panthers (25-1), 63-56.
In what was its second straight trip to Cole and fifth overall, Meade (17-9) got 15 points from 6-foot-2 junior guard Doug Underwood and 16 from senior JoJo Whitaker, but shot 39.6 percent (19-for-48) from the floor.
"I don't even want to see the stat sheet, because we usually shoot 45 to 50 percent, " said Young.
"We just didn't execute and I thought our shot selection was not very good."
Underwood, who shoots 58 percent from the floor and led Anne Arundel County public schools in scoring (20.4 points per game) this season, only got off seven shots in the first half, hitting four and scoring 10 points.
Going 7-for-15 overall from the floor, Underwood was often open, but his teammates avoided him somewhat and trailed by 27-23 at the half.
The Mustangs were down by nine at 26-17 with under four minutes left before the break. A 6-1 run by Meade with Underwood scoring from the paint just before the buzzer closed the half.
Each of the Cougars' three guards -- Frazier, Thaddeus Pope and Jose Navarro (five points each) -- hit a three-pointer in the first half while Rector tossed in 10 points.
A three-pointer at the buzzer by Eric Brown (six points, four assists, six rebounds) pulled Meade within 41-38 going into the final eight minutes.
Falling behind by eight twice in the last three minutes, Meade cut the deficit to 55-50 on two free throws by Marcus Roseboro (nine points, four boards) with 28 seconds remaining only to have Rector sink both ends of a one-and-one for a 57-50 Cougar lead with 20 seconds left.
Quince Orchard -- Rector 19, Saulter 12 , Pope 5, Frazier 12, Navarro 5, Fahey 4. Totals: 21 11-16 57.
Meade -- Underwood 15, Whitaker 16, Brown 6, Roseboro 9, Davis 4. Totals: 19 7-9 50. Half: Q 27-23.