LONGMONT -- Hosting the school's first home playoff game, the Mead boys basketball players knew they would get a big lift from one player or another that would guide them to their first-ever playoff victory.
On Wednesday night, that lift came from an unlikely source.
Junior guard Cody Beaver, who averaged 4.3 points during the regular season, shot 3 for 4 from behind the 3-point arc and scored 12 points in the second quarter to give the Mavericks (14-10) the lead for good on the way to a 57-43 win over Fort Morgan.
"I've never shot the ball like that," Beaver said. "My teammates kept encouraging me and the coaches kept encouraging me to shoot the ball. Tonight I just came out with confidence and, luckily, I got hot."
Beaver tied his previous season high in the second quarter alone and led the seventh-seeded Mavericks with 16 points. He scored just one point in the second half, but his effort when the game was closest spurred his teammates to play better after halftime.
Senior guard Taylor Desch said the win put the Mavericks on the map.
"A lot of teams don't know who we are because we don't have the playoff wins and the state berths and things like that," Desch said. "Coming in here and getting it done on our own home court is really big for us."
The 10th-seeded Mustangs were all over Mavericks senior forward Ryan Lozinski, who averaged 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds during the regular season, and held him to four points and four rebounds.
"I didn't have his normal game tonight," Lozisnki said. "But my teammates picked it up around me."
Wednesday was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. By halftime, junior guard Aaron Cheung said the Mavericks recognized their leading scorer was doubled, and he and starting forward Griffin Nelson both were limited with foul trouble. He said the guards knew then they'd have to pick up the slack.
Cheung (13 points) and senior Connor Lamb (10 points) combined for 23 points. Their ball pressure, and that of Desch, changed the game when the Mavericks turned to their full-court press.
"Coming into the game we knew we were going to do that a little bit more," said Cheung, who also had five steals. "Staying strong on defense and taking a couple charges was really key."
Mustangs (9-15) sophomore leading scorer Eric Kembel, who averaged 12.2 points per game during the regular season, scored 18.
The Mavericks made their postseason debut last season in the Class 3A tournament. Seeded 18th, the Mavericks lost 62-60 in overtime to Alamosa after going 9 for 20 on free throws and losing a 31-22 halftime lead.
Against the Mustings, the Mavericks made 20 free throws. More importantly, they shot 11 of 16 in the final three minutes to push a 10-point lead up to 15.
"This year's bunch has done a much better job with free throws," Reese said. "We've extended three or four leads like that because of free throws. It's even some of the guys that didn't see significant minutes last year."
The Mavericks left the floor with 35 regular-season wins in three varsity seasons, and one when they count extra. They'll now be looking to add a second on the road against second-seeded Thomas Jefferson (16-7) on Friday.
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Mead 57, Fort Morgan 43
At Mead HS
FORT MORGAN (9-15)
Bauer 0 0-0 0, Lopez 1 3-4 5, Zwetzig 3 0-0 7, Pollitt 0 1-2 1, Garcia 2 1-3 6, Frick 1 1-3 3, Raegan 0 0-0 0, Schneider 1 0-0 2, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Kembel 6 6-6 18, Ocanas 0 0-0 0, Weimer 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 12-18 43.
Maher 0 0-0 0, Cheung 3 5-6 13, Desch 1 2-4 4, Lozinski 2 0-0 4, Perez 1 2-3 5, Lamb 3 3-4 10, Beaver 5 2-3 16, Brady 0 1-2 1, Kowalski 0 1-2 1, Nelson 0 2-4 2, Goodwin 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 20-30 57.
Score by quarters:
Fort Morgan 11 9 9 14 -- 43
Mead 9 17 9 22 -- 57
3-point field goals -- Fort Morgan (2): Zwetzig, Garcia; Mead (7): Beaver 4, Cheung 2, Lamb. Total fouls -- Fort Morgan 22, Mead 17. Fouled out -- Nelson Zwetzig. Technical fouls -- Zwetzig.