LONGMONT — The tipped passes and overthrown lobs got the groans. The uncharacteristic five offensive charges called against Mead on Saturday night got the Mavericks half of the raucous crowd at the Longmont High gym a little bit rabid.
Whether the calls were warranted or not, they fed into the 22 turnovers that proved costly for the Mavericks in Saturday night's 55-45 win for the Longmont Trojans in the Great 8 of the Class 4A boys basketball tournament.
Passing woes led to Longmont taking a 12-0 lead in the first 4 minutes of the game, and try as they did to whittle down that chasm — Mead was within five points of the LHS lead with 4:26 to go in the game — they couldn't overcome all that was heaved at them, ending their season at 20-6.
"That crowd, our crowd, was there because of what all 12 of our guys accomplished this year, so I couldn't be more proud of them," said Mead head coach Darin Reese, gracious in defeat in applauding the community for packing the gym to the tune of 2,500 people. "We got off to a slow start, and I knew we'd fight back because we've done it all year. But it was a big hole to climb out of.
"The calls were tough to take when you are attacking the basket and doing things right, but you give credit to (Longmont) for being in positions to force calls."
The Mavericks were treading water from the start, no doubt. But Reese couldn't help but be more livid each time the Mavericks were called for a charge. Michael Ward, the team's second-leading scorer, was called for two of them, and the second sent him to the bench with five fouls with 3 minutes to go in the game.
Ward, one of three dynamic 3-point shooters for MHS, was sorely needed at that point with the score down to 48-41. It changed the way Mead likes to attack, and both coaches acknowledged that after the game.
Longmont was able to get a piece of two 3-point attempts in the final minutes knowing it could hone in on James Maher and Walker Korell a little better.
"Ward's fifth foul hurt the momentum, because we had them rattled a little bit," Reese said. "It's a huge difference in terms of floor spacing, and it allows (opponents) to help a little bit more towards our two guys that are pretty good from back there."
"We told them we needed to make it extremely difficult on them, and not foul their jump shooters but make a difficult shot," added Longmont coach Jeff Kloster, whose team went undefeated at home for the second straight season and carries a 25-1 mark into next week's semifinals. "We didn't want them scoring with the clock stopped. The kids really had a lot of grit, and they did a great job inside of those last two minutes just nullifying that perimeter game."