FREDERICK — The Mead boys basketball team has faced some of the toughest competition Colorado has to offer already this season.
But on Friday night, the Mavericks received a tougher test than they may have expected from the Tri-Valley League rival Frederick Warriors, who for three quarters far outplayed their 2-8 record. In the end, it was a 60-41 victory for the Mavericks and yet another learning experience for a team that is dead set on battle-testing itself in the hope of making a historically deep playoff run.
"They [Frederick] work really hard and they do a good job," Mavericks head coach Darin Reese said. "We shot the ball poorly but overall I think we did a pretty good job, especially with our effort defensively. Our guys grinding and extending the lead there at the end shows the kind of maturity we're working to develop."
The Mead boys are currently ranked No. 10 in the latest CHSAANow.com poll. Two of their three losses this season were by six against No. 1 Longmont and by five versus No. 3 Pueblo South before the holiday break. In their return to action in Frederick, the Mavericks led 24-22 at halftime and 39-31 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter, however, was all Mead's.
Outscoring the Warriors (2-8, 0-2 Tri-Valley) 21-10 in the final frame of their conference opener, the Mavericks (6-3, 1-0 Tri-Valley) found their rhythm offensively with guards Michael Ward and Walker Korell combining for 17 fourth-quarter points. While the Mavericks' shots weren't falling for most of the game, they were certainly happy to have big men Alex Sandstrom (6-foot-6) and Van Lindemann (6-foot-4) there to clean it up.
Sandstrom and Lindemann, who both missed time before the break, combined for 14 points and turned out to be critically consistent against the undersized Warriors.
"This was our first game back as a full team, and Van and I came into the game knowing we just needed to make the tough plays," Sandstrom said. "We started out making the cool plays [two dunks from Korell], but we didn't pull away until we started doing the little things like getting boards, playing defense and making free throws."
Warriors sharpshooter Chelton Lebon, who entered the game averaging 20.1 points had an off night with five points while Jose Campos led the Warriors with 10 points. But fresh off a two-point loss to Holy Family and having hung with the Mavericks for three quarters, Warriors head coach Enoch Miller said he is pleased with his team's progression to this point in the season.
"I was really proud of our kids," Miller said. "We struggled offensively but we were great on the defensive end. Mead is a phenomenal team and we did a great job of competing."
Mead will play at Roosevelt (3-4) on Saturday. Frederick will play at Windsor (5-3) on Tuesday.
Mead 60, Frederick 41
At Frederick H.S.
MEAD (6-3, 1-0)
Cheung 1 2-5 4, Maher 2 2-2 6, Ward 2 5-6 10, Lindemann 5 0-0 10, Korell 8 5-9 21, Edwards 2 1-4 5, Sandstrom 0 4-4 4, Rice 0 0-0 0, Harrell 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 19-30 60.
FREDERICK (2-8, 0-2)
Plock 0 0-0 0, Elkins 1 0-0 3, Lebon 2 1-2 5, Lords 0 0-0 0, Chohon 1 1-2 3, Nichols 1 3-5 5, Washington 4 0-3 8, Campos 3 4-7 10, Shirley 0 0-0 0, Bessler 2 0-0 5. Totals 14 9-19 41.
Score by quarters:Mead 12 12 15 21 — 60
Frederick 7 17 7 10 — 41
3-point field goals — Mead (0): None; Frederick (2): Bessler, Elkins. Total fouls — Mead 22, Frederick 24. Fouled out — Nichols.