LAFAYETTE -- The Mead boys basketball team broke into CHSAAnow.com's 4A state rankings earlier this week -- at No. 9 -- but the Mavericks didn't live up to their billing at the beginning of Friday night's game against Thomas Jefferson.
Mead fell behind 18-4 and 27-9 in the semifinals of the 16th annual Boulder Valley Invitational at Centaurus High School. And by the time the Mavericks snapped out of their early funk, they had dug themselves too deep a hole to post a win.
TJ fended off a late rally to upend MHS 67-55. Suffice it to say the result was a cold slap in the face for the Mavericks (2-2), whose only other loss came against No. 1-ranked Longmont.
"We started off with really bad energy. We kind of get a big head on our shoulders sometimes, thinking we can come out lazy and win," said senior Walker Korell, who shared team-high scoring honors with junior Michael Ward as each tallied 17 points. "Against a good team when you start out slow, it's hard to come back. ... (But) we definitely could have beaten that team."
Mead didn't look in sync on either end of the floor as TJ built an 18-point lead midway through the second quarter following a five-point possession. In the first 14 minutes of the game, the Mavericks were 4 of 22 from the field -- including several airballs -- and had committed nine turnovers.
"They sped us up early on," Mead coach Darin Reese said of TJ. "We had no rhythm offensively. We settled for some quick shots. And we didn't have anyone on the offensive glass to clean those up and chip in. We also gave them an awful lot in transition. Any team, when you get good looks in transition, that gets everything else going."
But Mead did eventually climb back into the game. After going scoreless from beyond the arc in the first half, the Mavericks nailed seven treys after intermission, with four coming from Ward.
Eventually, Mead crept within 54-50 with 3:30 remaining on a 3-pointer by James Maher. But the Mavericks managed just five points the rest of the way. And with TJ's Ravel Moody scoring 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, the Spartans secured the victory.
Mead hit just 34 percent of its field goal attempts on the night (20-58) and went 8 of 15 on its free throws. Despite early foul trouble, Maher (11 points) joined Korell and Ward in double figures for MHS. The Mavericks are expected to get some reinforcements next week as big men Alex Sandstrom and Van Lindemann return from suspensions.
TJ (3-2) will face Prairie View (3-0) for the BVI title Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Centaurus. PV held off Erie 63-55 in the second semifinal on Friday.
Mead, in the midst of a six-week stretch without a home game, will take on Erie (1-4) in Saturday's third-place game at 4:30 p.m.
In an earlier consolation bracket game, host Centaurus defeated Sheridan 53-46 and will face Standley Lake for fifth place Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CHS improved to 3-1.
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Thomas Jefferson 67, Mead 55
At Boulder Valley Invitational
Maher 3 3-5 11, Ward 6 1-2 17, Korell 8 0-2 17, Edwards 1 2-4 4, Rice 2 2-2 6, Cheung 0 0-0 0, Harrell 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 8-15 55..
Moody 9 5-10 24, H. Cooper 1 2-2 5, Street 5 1-4 11, Cecil 1 0-0 2, X. Cooper 6 0-1 12, Dotson 0 1-2 1, Sayers 1 0-0 2, Gould 2 0-1 5, Harper 2 0-0 5. Totals 27 9-20 67.
Score by quarters:Mead 8 12 18 17 — 55
Thomas Jefferson 20 10 19 18 — 67
3-point field goals — Mead (7): Ward 4, Maher 2, Korell; TJ (4): Moody, Gould, Harper, H. Cooper. Total fouls — Mead 14, TJ 16.. Fouled out — none.