LONGMONT -- The Erie boys basketball team almost felt helpless the first time it encountered Mead nearly four weeks ago, as the Mavericks rained down one 3-pointer after another upon the Tigers.
Erie vowed that wouldn't happen again. On Tuesday, the Tigers followed through on that promise.
Erie made a big statement while creating a logjam in the middle of the Class 4A Tri-Valley League, unleashing a stellar defensive performance that paved the way for a 49-38 win at Mead.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Tigers, while Mead lost for the third time in four games. The win gives Erie a split of the season series with Mead and moves the Tigers even with the Mavericks for fourth-place in the conference behind front-runners Roosevelt, Windsor, and Frederick.
"We were just talking and playing together, and not letting them shoot the 3 very much because that's what they killed us with last time," Erie junior Dylan Brink said. "This is a huge win to win on the road like this against a team that was right above us. Hopefully it carries on for the rest of the season."
In the teams' first meeting on Jan. 18, which Mead won 70-58, the Mavericks went 11 for 20 from 3-point range. It was a completely different story on Tuesday, as Mead made only two if its 22 long-range attempts while going 0 for 15 after halftime.
Erie opened with a collapsing zone defense that gave the host Mavericks fits out of the gate. Although Mead's leading scorer, Ryan Lozinski, finished with 16 points, the Tigers took Mead's shooters out of the game. The Mavericks' second-leading scorer, Aaron Cheung, made only one field goal while being held to six points.
"We didn't shoot the ball well at all," Mead coach Darin Reese said. "I thought we got good looks for our shooters, but with that zone packed in we didn't get into the gaps very well. And we didn't hit the boards well. When you're not shooting well, you're not getting second chances, and you're not penetrating, you're going to struggle offensively.
"Give credit to them. They stuck to their game plan and it was effective."
Erie (9-12, 6-6 Tri-Valley) never trailed after putting together a 9-0 run early in the first quarter, but the Tigers nonetheless had to hold off several Mavericks runs.
The most promising rally for Mead occurred midway through the third, after consecutive baskets by Lozinski pulled the Mavericks within 26-24. Mead appeared to have a defensive stop on Erie's next possession, but the Tigers' 5-foot-8 Coltin Brink grabbed an offensive rebound between a pair of Mead forwards and turned the play into a layup by Dylan Brink.
That basket began a 7-0 burst by Erie that spelled the beginning of the end for Mead. The Mavericks never drew closer than six points the rest of the way as Erie steadily pulled away.
Erie's Kyle Leahy knocked down five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 25 points.
"This is a huge win for us," Erie coach Tim Leahy said. "I thought our kids managed the game well. They didn't get out of synch. They didn't get out of rhythm, even when Mead made a couple runs on us. I think that is just a little bit of maturity that our guys are starting to learn."
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Erie 49, Mead 38
At Mead HS
ERIE (9-12, 6-6)
Leahy 10 0-1 25, C. Brink 1 0-3 2, D. Brink 4 2-2 11, Melton 1 1-2 3, Tallman 0 0-2 0, Egan 1 0-1 2, Baker 2 0-1 4, Smith 0 2-3 2, Lucas 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 5-15 49.
MEAD (11-10, 6-6)
Cheung 1 4-5 6, Desch 0 0-1 0, Perez 1 0-0 2, Nelson 5 2-2 14, Lozinski 6 4-6 16, Lamb 0 0-0 0, Beaver 0 0-0 0, Korell 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 10-14 38.
Score by quarters:
Erie 14 10 11 14 -- 49
Mead 12 6 9 11 -- 38
3-point field goals -- Erie (6): Leahy 5, D. Brink; Mead (2): Nelson 2. Total fouls -- Erie 18, Mead 13. Fouled out -- Baker.