Mead’s James Maher, left, and the Mavericks will battle rival Longmont Saturday for the right to go to next week’s Class 4A Final Four.
Mead's James Maher, left, and the Mavericks will battle rival Longmont Saturday for the right to go to next week's Class 4A Final Four. (Jonathan Castner / For

LONGMONT — The Mead Mavericks have been there and come close to doing that.

On the first weekend in December, when the season was just getting underway, coach Darin Reese's team walked into Longmont High School and gave the preseason No.1 team everything it could handle in a raucous playoff atmosphere.

Both teams remember it well.

On Saturday, they return.

"It'll be different for sure, but having seen somebody once and narrowly losing, it's easy motivation," said Reese, whose team lost 52-46 in December. "It's going to be a fun atmosphere and we expects something pretty similar this Saturday."

The third-seeded Mavericks in the Richard Tate Region of the Class 4A tournament reached the Great Eight with a stellar two days down in Colorado Springs at Sierra.

They first dispatched of Green Mountain and then on Saturday, played arguably their best of the season against the host Stallions.

Playing a complete contest, the Maverick pulled away from Sierra in the fourth going on a 16-2 run break a 42-42 tie. James Maher and Walker Korell poured in a combined 47 points in the mild upset.

"Our kids really stepped up to the challenge and we played probably one of our most complete games, all 32 minutes, on Saturday," Reese said. " Our kids are getting better and getting tougher every game out."

Said Korell: "I think we caught them off-guard a little bit. I don't think they were expecting us to play the way we did and I think we are going to catch a lot of teams off guard. We are underestimated from the get-go and that is good for us, it gives us a little edge."


Korell made one of the plays of the game in the first meeting against Longmont, going up high to finish off an ally-oop from Michael Ward.

That threesome of Maher, Ward and Korell have combined to average over 43 points this season and each have had their big games. It's a triple threat that make it difficult on a defense.

"We are just going to go out and play our game," Korell said. "We've seen what they want to do and how they want to play and that is good for us.

"We have a week to prepare and try to capitalize on any weaknesses they might show."

Also playing into the Mavericks hand this week is the familiar athletic style displayed by both Sierra and Longmont. Reese has doubled as a mad-scientist this week — tinkering with a few things to come up with the right formula to try and solve the top-seeded Trojans.

"There are definitely some similarities that we can fall back on for sure, Longmont is bigger," he said.

The winner will face either Valor Christian or Windsor on Friday, March 11 at the Coors Events Center.

Jon Yunt: or