LONGMONT — With the painfully-learned knowledge that one or two more wins may have pushed the squad off of the playoff bubble and into the 4A state tournament last season, the Mead High boys basketball team isn't taking any opponents lightly this season.
The Mavericks' determination was apparent in Tuesday night's season opener against Silver Creek, a team that beat the Mavericks and went on to go dancing in 2014-15. Hosting the cross-town rivals in a non-conference matchup, the Mavericks pulled away early and didn't let up to beat the Raptors 61-38.
"We came out with a lot of energy," Mavericks junior guard Michael Ward said. "We executed our plays and played hard on defense the whole game. We want to go to state and do better than last year because we didn't get in. We think we can go far but first we have to do whatever it takes to get in."
Despite a 15-8 record last year, the Mavericks (1-0) were left out of the 4A state tournament. Still smarting from the perceived snub, the Mavericks opened the new season by shooting 53 percent from the field. Defensively, they held the Raptors (0-1) to 11 points in the first quarter and zero in the second.
"That's big for us," Ward said of the scoreless quarter. "I don't think we've ever done that. They like to attack so that says a lot about how we stayed in front of them and then got the rebound."
Senior guard Walker Korell paced the Mavericks offense early, scoring nine of his 16 points in the first half. Ward took over in the second, scoring 14 of his game-high 18 points after halftime.
"I thought our effort was really good tonight," Mavericks head coach Darin Reese said. "We defended well and did a good job of dealing with how physical they are. With this group especially, our defense is what jump-starts our offense and gets us in the flow. We have multiple guys who can put it in the hoop so if we continue to share it, we'll get good looks and guys will get hot."
Silver Creek beat Mead 78-57 at Silver Creek High School last season, finished 14-10 and made the 4A state tournament, losing in the first round to Sierra. But after the school year, the Raptors graduated four of their top five scorers and are looking to new players this season to assume new roles. The Raptors struggled to score points in the season opener, shooting 31 percent (14 for 45) from the field.
The Mavericks will head across town to take on top-ranked Longmont on Friday. Also on Friday, Silver Creek will hit the road to face Summit High in Frisco.
Mead 61, Silver Creek 38
At Mead H.S.
SILVER CREEK (0-1)
Rhythm Ajanku 2 0-0 5, Nick Hartman 0 0-1 0, Reese Barracks 3 0-1 6, Anthony Kasper 1 2-2 4, Trent Dykema 2 1-2 5, Andrew Rapp 4 1-1 9, Sam Schlegel 1 2-2 5, Tristan Tanner 0 0-0 0, Khari Harrison 0 0-0 0, Hunter Becvar 1 0-0 2, Christian Warner 1 0-2 2, Carter Blink 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 6-11 38.
Cameron Cheung 0 2-3 2, James Maher 2 0-0 5, Daniel Cloke 0 0-2 0, Michael Ward 6 4-5 18, Van Lindemann 0 1-3 1, Walker Korell 6 2-3 16, Derek Edwards 4 0-0 10, Michael Rice 2 2-4 6, Phil Harrell 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 11-20 61.
Score by quarters:Silver Creek (0-1) 11 0 12 15 — 38
3-point field goals — Silver Creek (2): Ajanku, Schlegel; Mead (8): Ward 2, Korell 2, Edwards 2, Maher, Harrell. Total fouls — Silver Creek 21, Mead 16.