FREDERICK - For Mead, it's not about scoring.
Sure, making baskets, drilling 3-pointers and cashing free throws is great, the Mavericks say, but no defense means no good play and, more importantly, no advancement.
And they know it.
On Friday night, they used an early defensive binge to take control on the road and run away from Frederick 71-46. The Mavericks have now won four games in a row since getting thoroughly spanked by perennial Tri-Valley League power Holy Family and advanced to 16-3, 9-1 in the loop.
Mead will spend Valentine's Day at Holy Family in Broomfield in getting another shot at the Tigers, but doesn't want to look ahead as it hits the final stretch of the regular season.
Back to defense - the Mavericks played a lot of it, including by leading scorer Michael Ward. And it worked.
"Energy. Energy and defense," Ward said. "When we play defense, it really helps us."
Said Mead coach Darin Reese: "Absolutely, that has been us. We've been trying to find an identity on defense. And I think over the last week-and-a-half or so we've kind of honed in on what we want to be on the defensive end."
It appears the Mavericks wish to create problems, as they did Friday - they protected the paint, bothered Frederick (8-11, 3-9) on the perimeter and created opportunities in transition.
The Warriors grabbed a 3-0 lead, then Mead reeled off nine straight points to establish a pattern - the Mavericks maintained control, weathered any hint of a move by the Warriors and won going away.
"Anyone can score for us," Ward said, although he once again led the parade with a game-high 28 points. The 6-foot-2 guard also had help, including from 6-8 sophomore reserve Jax Wilke, who added 14 points and turned in an assortment of plays inside on both ends.
As for the Warriors, they were lured into going fast, second-year coach Enoch Miller said, and it didn't help. Nor did poor shooting - Frederick made only 13 field goals - and turnover issues.
"I think our ability to (not) be patient and get the best shot available hurt us," he said. "When (the Mavericks) were on their run early, I felt we were rushing and had to get it back all on one play."
True, the Warriors created some opportunities, but also forced several that didn't develop or weren't there. And it wasn't a good move against Mead defenders.
"A lot of it turned into easy opportunities for (the Mavericks)," Miller said.
With four games to go, Mead feels confident about being ready.
"We are," Ward said. "We just need to go hard every time out."
Reese understands the value of following a seasoned, savvy player at the most meaningful stretch of the season. And he says his team has one in Ward.
"He's our leader and been our leader all season," the coach said.
Mead 71, Frederick 46
MEAD (16-3, 9-1)
Cheung 1 2-2 5, Ward 11 5-5 28, Sandstrom 3 0-1 7, Rice 1 1-2 4, Cloke 2 2-2 7, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Brin 0 2-2 2, Wilke 6 2-3 14, Lee 1 0-0 2, Jacobs 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 14-17 71.
FREDERICK (8-11, 3-9)
Washington 0 7-8 7, Elkins 3 4-5 12, Campos 1 0-0 2, Rawson 0 1-2 1, Lahr 4 1-4 9, Dreitz 1 0-0 2, Chohon 4 4-4 13, Green 0 0-0 0, Lowry 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 17-23 46..
Score by quarters:Mead 20 10 23 18 — 71
Frederick 10 9 14 13 — 46
3-point field goals — Mead (5): Cheung, Cloke, Rice, Sandstrom, Ward; Frederick (3): Elkins 2, Chohon. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.