KEENESBURG -- The Mead girls basketball program knew its first playoff win likely would have to come on the road, and it would not be easy.
Luckily for Mavericks head coach Michael Ward, he has a hungry bunch in the locker room.
Sandwiched by treacherous, snowy drives on Tuesday night, the 10th-seeded Mavericks (13-11) upset the seventh-seeded Weld Central Rebels (15-9) by a commanding score of 47-34 in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament. Turns out their first playoff win came a little easier than the Mavericks anticipated.
"We were all so ready and we practiced so hard," junior guard Marina Hanlon said. "We were just trying to keep focused and relaxed like the same thing we do any other game. There was a little more pressure but once we started playing, it went away instantly."
Having averaged 14.2 points per game during the regular season, Kasey McKrola, the Mavericks' 6-foot-1 senior, led her team with 15 against the Rebels. Junior forward Mikayla Martinez scored 11 points and Hanlon and junior Allison Majerus each added seven.
From the tip-off, however, it was the Mavericks defense that wrested the win from the Rebels.
The Mavericks held the Rebels to two points in the first quarter and six in the second. Leading 15-8 at halftime, the Mavericks picked up the pace on offense to match each potential run from the Rebels, who got no closer than eight points for the remainder of the game.
"We played a lot of zone and we've been working really hard on that in practice," sophomore Kari Lozinski said. "We've been tightening that up. We played really well as a team and we had a lot of drive to come together and get the win."
The Mavericks' trap and collapsing zone held Rebels junior center Ivannnie Robertson, who averaged 10.8 points per game this season, to eight points. The Rebels also missed 14 free throws.
In their first state tournament appearance last season, Ward's Mavericks lost 63-35 to Bishop Machebeuf in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Entering Tuesday's game with four losses in their last five games, the Mavericks had little momentum to carry them through the first round in 2013.
But Ward said the Mavericks had game-planned well to stop Robertson and the Rebels post attack. The Mavericks, he said, also did not feel like a true 10th seed, but that's where they ended up after a late-season skid in the Tri-Valley League.
"To walk out of here with out first playoff win, it's thrilling," Ward said. "I'm so happy for the girls. They went through a lot this year but they battled. We get to enjoy this tonight and then get ready for Centaurus."
The Mavericks have not played the second-seeded Warriors (16-7) this season. But Ward said they played them three times during the summer so the teams are at least somewhat familiar with one another. A small group of Warriors players was also in attendance at Weld Central High School on Tuesday.
The Mavericks will travel to Lafayette to play the Warriors on Friday.
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Mead 47, Weld Central 34
At Weld Central HS
Maher 0 0-1 0, Martinez 3 5-5 11, Daly 0 0-0 0, Reeves 0 0-0 0, Hanlon 2 2-2 7, Majerus 3 1-2 7, Lozinski 2 0-2 4, Ward 0 1-3 1, McKrola 6 3-4 15, Sheffield 0 2-2 2, Kalivas 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-21 47.
WELD CENTRAL (15-9)
Overman 0 2-2 2, Ries 1 3-4 5, Smialek 2 2-8 6, Gerken 2 1-4 5, Rupp 2 2-4 6, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Robertson 3 2-4 8. Totals 11 12-26 34.
Score by quarters:
Mead 9 6 17 15 -- 47
Weld Central 2 6 13 13 -- 34
3-point field goals -- Mead (1): Hanlon; Weld Central (0): None. Total fouls -- Mead 19, Weld Central 19. Fouled out -- McKrola. Technical fouls -- None.