LONGMONT -- It had been more than two years since the Mead boys basketball team last won six consecutive games, and the timing couldn't have been much better to revisit that heady experience.
A year after being left out of the 4A state playoffs despite a 15-8 record, Mead is finishing the regular season with an exclamation point.
With Friday night's 55-27 rout of Skyline on MHS' senior night, the Mavericks not only have reeled off six consecutive victories, but have prevailed in 14 of their last 17 contests.
"Every night before the game, coach (Darin Reese) writes up on the board, '1-0,'" said senior Walker Korell, who finished with a dozen points Friday. "That's our goal -- 1-0 for that game. That started six games ago. To keep that mentality in our head is what's really helping us improve -- just to focus on the game that's at hand."
And, though it's a long shot, the Mavericks still have a chance to share the 4A Tri-Valley League title. At 10-2 in league action (16-5 overall), Mead trails Windsor (12-0) by two games with two left, including Tuesday's head-to-head at MHS.
"To win the league is our goal," Korell said. "We're obviously striving for that. But first, second or third, whichever it is, we're going to the playoffs. I think overall that's the most important thing."
While there were some offensive highlights on Friday -- appropriately Mead's two senior starters teamed up for alley-oop dunks in the first and fourth quarters, with James Maher passing to Korell -- the defense was the show on this night.
Mead held Skyline scoreless for the first 9 minutes, 15 seconds of the game. Before Braden Blick hit a 3-pointer with 6:45 left in the half to break the ice for the Falcons, Mead was up 14-0 and Skyline had gone 0-for-8 from the field and committed seven turnovers.
"To do that on senior night in the first quarter showed the maturity (of the team)," Reese said. "That's been a big thing throughout the year: I think we've got a pretty mature team. To be able to handle that stuff and be able to play that well defensively was great."
The 27 points were a season-best defensively for the Mavericks as Skyline shot 23 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times.
The Falcons got back into the game pretty quickly once they hit their first shot of the game, narrowing the deficit to 16-11 before in the second period. But Mead put things out of reach with 15 unaswered points sandwiched around intermission.
Junior Michael Ward scored a game-high 15 points for the Mavericks, with Korell adding his dozen. As for the other seniors who played, Maher finished with nine and Phil Harrell came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer.
As for Skyline, it was a frustrating night offensively.
"We had a lot of (close-in) shots at the rim in the first quarter and our kids didn't finish them," said first-year SHS coach Tyler Cerveny. "Against good people, you've got to finish them. Give them credit. They guarded hard."
Despite Friday's loss, the Falcons still have a legitimate opportunity to finish the season with the winning record for the first time in more than a decade, SHS, which last won 10 games in a season seven years ago, is 10-11 (6-6 in league) with two games remaining, both against teams with losing records.
"It should be important to our guys," Cerveny said. "12-11 would be a great year as we start to change the culture around here."
After hosting league-leading Windsor on Tuesday, Mead closes out the regular season Friday at Berthoud. Skyline plays its final two regular-season games on the road, at Roosevelt on Tuesday and at Frederick on Friday.
Mead 55, Skyline 27
At Mead H.S.
SKYLINE (10-11, 6-6)
Higgins 4 1-3 9, Blick 2 1-3 6, Angstead 0 3-5 3, Gutierrez 2 0-0 4, Dietz 1 0-0 2, Nilsen 1 1-2 3, Ekern 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 6-13 27.
MEAD (16-5, 10-2)
Maher 4 0-0 9, Ward 7 0-0 15, Korell 6 0-0 12, Edwards 4 0-0 9, Sandstrom 2 0-0 5, Cheung 0 0-0 0, Rice 0 0-0 0, Silbernagel 1 0-0 2, Harrell 1 0-0 3. Totals 25 0-0 55.
Score by quarters:Skyline 0 11 5 11 — 27 Mead 12 13 15 15 — 55
3-point field goals — Skyline (1): Blick; Mead (5): Maher, Ward, Edwards, Sandstrom, Harrell. Total fouls — Skyline 7, Mead 15. Fouled out — none.
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