Athlete of the Year: Mayo shines in slam dunk senior season, leaves lasting legacy at RM

Senior Dante Mayo celebrates after hitting a deep three-pointer in the regional championship.
Senior Dante Mayo celebrates after hitting a deep three-pointer in the regional championship.
Ari Fine

“Big-time players make big-time plays,” senior forward Max Merringoff told teammate Dante Mayo as he stepped up to the free throw line. Mayo hit both free throws to give his team their first win of the season, but little did he know this was just a preview of the success that would follow. 

Heading into the playoffs the boy’s basketball team had hit a slump, only winning two of their last seven games, with all being decided by less than 15 points. Despite the slump, the boys secured the third seed heading into the regional playoffs. Ahead of them were three teams they had previously beaten in the regular season. But, as sports fans know, anything can happen in the playoffs. The boys went to work and were able to win three games in a row and eventually win the regional championship for the third time in five years. This was largely due to the confidence and poise of Mayo. For these reasons, the timeliness of his performances, and his ability to lead his team on and off the hardwood, Mayo truly deserves the honor of Male Athlete of the Year. 

Mayo. a senior guard, struggled his junior season due to lingering shoulder injuries. Coming into his senior year, Mayo was regarded by most coaches as the best shooter in the county, but with great honor comes great responsibility. Defenses made Mayo the focal point of their gameplans and they were sure not to make it easy for the senior guard.

Mayo came into the season hot, nailing two game-winning free throws versus WJ. On top of that, Mayo scored thirty points a couple of days later in an overtime thriller versus Wootton. Amazing performances from Mayo propelled the team to a 7-1 start to the season.

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“Dante played a big part in our success,” sophomore guard Boogie Vaughan-Cooper Said. “He set the tone for us early and we never looked back.”

Although Mayo is a renowned scorer, his effect on the game is way deeper than the stat sheet may reveal. 

“Dante was able to make his shots when we needed, but his ability to stay calm was contagious,” Vaughan-Cooper said. “Although it may go unnoticed by fans, his ability to be a leader was a big part in our playoff run.”

Off the court, Mayo dedicates his time in the gym through skills and strength training. Mayo can also be seen hanging with his teammates and friends.

“The most memorable part of playing with him wasn’t anything that happened on the court,” senior forward Jesse Boone said. “It was talking and hanging before and after practice or things we did outside of basketball.”

Mayo’s best performances came when the lights shined the brightest and his teammates needed him most. Mayo was a star during the boy’s playoff run, most notably hitting timely threes to help his team gain momentum. 

“His impact was extremely significant, he showed up in big ways every game,” senior forward Siddarth Sastry-Clark said. “His presence single-handedly determined whether we win games or not.”

Alongside the team accomplishments, Mayo had countless individual accolades to round out his historic senior season. Mayo received Third Team All-Met in which he was one of very few public school athletes to receive the honor. Mayo was also First Team All-County and First Team All-Division. Mayo broke the county three-point record in a season with 101, the county three-point record in a career with 258, and set a new school scoring record held since 1967. To top off the lengthy list of awards, Mayo surpassed 1000 points throughout his time at RM and ended his career receiving MCPS Player of the Year.

“I’m thankful to receive this award for athlete of the year. It means a lot to me to be recognized for the time I’ve put in,” Mayo said. “I want to thank my coaches, teammates, and the students who supported the team this year, too. Go Rockets!”


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