MEAD — Though he has the utmost confidence in his players, even Holy Family head boys basketball coach Pete Villecco was shocked at how handily his Tigers beat the Mead Mavericks on the road Friday night.
The Tigers (11-4, 6-0 Tri-Valley) entered Friday's game tied for the top spot in the Tri-Valley League with the Mavericks (12-3, 5-1 Tri-Valley), who are ranked seventh in the CHSAANow.com poll and figured to be the favored club playing on their home floor. Still, the Tigers held the Mavericks to a season-low scoring total and won 67-48 even despite a slow start.
Without a doubt, the Tigers knew Friday's game was a critical contest if they wanted to jump in the driver's seat for a conference title and weren't surprised by the outcome. The margin of victory, however, no one saw that coming.
"It's absolutely a surprise because Mead is a great team, we have a lot of respect for them and we knew coming here would be tough," Villecco said. "But our guys embrace challenges and they were up for it tonight."
As the Tigers turned the ball over on their first four possessions, the momentum was all Mead's in the first quarter. Mavericks senior Michael Ward (21.2 ppg), who led all scorers with 23 points, hit his first three 3-pointers to push the Mavericks out to a 17-11 lead to start the second.
But the Mavericks went cold in the second quarter. Once that happened, the Tigers outscored the home team 29-8 in the frame behind a combined 25 points from Tanner Baird, Kyle Helbig and Joe Golter, who hit a last-second layup that put the Tigers up 40-25 at halftime.
"Mead's a great team and we knew we'd have to come in and play as hard as we could, and that's what we did," said Helbig, who led the Tigers with 19 points. "Our mojo is toughness on the road and we stuck to that. We had a slow start but we fought as hard as we could to come back."
Now victorious in six of their last seven games, the Tigers led by as many as 21 points late in the third quarter and didn't let the Mavericks within 16 in the second half.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Mavericks, who will travel to play Berthoud (1-13, 0-5 Tri-Valley) on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Tigers will play at home against Roosevelt (7-6, 2-2 Tri-Valley).
Holy Family and Mead will face each other again on Feb. 14 at Holy Family.
Holy Family 67, Mead 48
At Mead H.S.
HOLY FAMILY (11-4, 6-0 Tri-Valley)
Helbig 8 2-2 19, Golter 3 4-4 11, Baird 6 1-2 14, Kinoti 1 0-0 2, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Price 2 0-0 5, Zeman 3 2-2 10, Miller 2 2-2 6, Hunter 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 11-12 67.
MEAD (12-3, 5-1 Tri-Valley)
Cheung 0 0-2 0, Brin 0 0-0 0, Wilke 5 0-0 10, Ward 7 6-7 23, Edwards 1 0-1 3, Sandstrom 0 2-2 2, Rice 3 0-0 6, Cloke 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 8-12 48.
Score by quarters:Holy Family 11 29 14 13 — 67
Mead 17 8 12 11 — 48
3-point field goals — Holy Family (6): Zeman 2, Helbig, Baird, Golter, Price; Mead (4): Ward 3, Edwards. Total fouls — Holy Family 13, Mead 14. Fouled out — Cheung.