LONGMONT — You can't help but wonder where the heads of the Longmont boys were when they took the court for their season opening basketball game against Mead on Friday.
"It is really difficult to ask young men to just turn the page, and we still have a lot of kids that are still hurting from the loss," said Trojans coach Jeff Kloster, who was referring to the football team being eliminated last Saturday against Windsor in the 4A semifinals. "but it was also nice to put them out in some competition and get some of that bad taste out of their mouth and start something new."
Time will eventually heal all football wounds, but the Trojans will have to realize that every team will be gunning to take them off of their preseason No. 1 basketball perch.
Mead gave them everything the wanted, and possibly a little bit more on Friday night. The Trojans scored the final seven points of the game and survived a scare from the Mavericks, winning 52-46 to open the season.
"We knew it wasn't going to be a clean ball game because we are still trying to figure out how to play basketball after running on the football field for so long," Kloster said. "I thought down the stretch, when we needed to have poise, we showed it and we had answers when we needed to find answers."
Mead (1-1), which scored an opening night win at Silver Creek, lead after the first quarter but saw their lead disappear quickly. The Mavericks trailed by as much nine points early in the second half, but never deviated from their game plan.
They battled back to within 40-36 going to the final quarter, making Longmont pay for some sloppy ball-handling.
With 3:04 to play, the Mavericks regained the lead, but it was short-lived after Ryan Rulon gave the Trojans the lead for good in transition back down the court.
"We had some opportunities at the end and we will get better from this," Mead coach Darin Reese said. "I told the guys in the final huddle that we are better now than we were an hour and half ago, but it was good for us to get in to that big game with a loud gym atmosphere and we'll be better because of it."
The primary focus of the Mavericks was obviously Justinian Jessup and for the most part, they made him work for his points and forced the other Trojans to beat them.
One player that stepped up to that challenge was Kolton Bachman. The senior scored 12 points and was at times a go-to player when Jessup was covered well.
"Anybody can step up on any night and we know we are a good team and that everybody can play," Bachman said.
Jessup finished with 23, including those aforementioned final seven points. His transition and-1 dunk with 18 seconds left sealed the deal for the Trojans.
Michael Ward led Mead with 13 points and Walker Korell — who also had the highlight of the night finishing off an alley-oop from Ward in the second quarter (he was given a technical for hanging on the rim) — had 11.
LONGMONT 52, MEAD 46
Cameron Cheung 0 0-0 0, James Maher 1 5-9 7, Daniel Cloke 0 0-0 0, Michael Ward 5 0-0 13, Walker Korell 5 0-0 11, Derek Edwards 3 0-2 6, Michael Rice 3 0-0 7, Phil Harrell 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 5-11 46.
Eli Sullivan 1 0-2 2, Luke Johnson 1 0-0 2, Justinian Jessup 6 9-11 23, David Speidel 1 1-2 4, Cooper Rothe 1 1-2 4, Kolton Bachman 5 2-7 12, Ryan Rulon 3 0-0 7, Tol Mugunga 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 14-26 52.
Score by quarters:Mead 17 7 12 10 — 46
Longmont 16 14 10 12 — 52
3-point field goals — Mead (5): Ward 3, Korell, Rice; Longmont (4): Jessup 2, Speidel, Rulon. Total fouls — Mead 19; Longmont 11. Technical foul — Korell.