MEAD — Michael Ward had been eagerly awaiting his senior season with the Mead boys basketball team for years, and for good reason.
The Mavericks program had been building steadily over the past several seasons and with players like Michael Ward coming up, the Mavericks felt the 2016-17 season had the potential to be a special one.
As it has turned out the Mavericks were right to bet on themselves, and on Ward.
With Ward leading the way as a senior this past season, one in which he took the mantle as the program's all-time leading scorer, the Mavericks reached the Class 4A Great 8 for the second consecutive year and also won a program-best 21 games. For being the driving force that made all that happen, Ward is the 2016-17 BoCoPreps.com boys basketball player of the year.
"At the beginning of every season, we sit down with coach (Darin Reese) and we discuss our goals and what we want to accomplish," Ward said. "Every year, we have good senior leaders and it was our turn to do that this year. It helps to have a coach and a lot of guys who have your back. We wanted to have more wins than last year and we did. We got a home playoff game and it was just a great season."
Averaging 21.4 points per game as a senior, Ward ended his prep basketball career with 1,364 points. He also averaged 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.6 steals throughout his senior campaign. He scored 19.7 points per game in the playoffs, including a 23-point outburst against top-ranked Valor Christian in the Great 8 that nearly pushed the Mavericks through to their first Final Four.
Not only does Ward lead Mead as the program's all-time scoring leader, he is also the program's all-time leader in steals and 3-pointers made. The 35 points he put up against Berthoud on Jan. 24 is the highest single-game scoring output of any Mavericks player and the 556 points he scored as a senior is the single-season scoring mark.
"With him, he came into a situation where when he was a freshman, our program was still relatively new," Mavericks head coach Darin Reese said. "He was able to step into like our sixth game and give us a spark with his unique skill set and all the different ways he can impact the game. He's started basically every single game since then and he's been a great example for the younger guys of what it means to compete both in practice and in games."
Ward, who plays club basketball for the Colorado Titans, has not yet made a decision about where he might play college basketball but that he is beginning to narrow it down. The headliner for possibly the best senior class his school has had, wherever Ward ends up he said he will to look back fondly on the career he had with his teammates at Mead.
"Every year, our program has just gotten better and better," Ward said. "We've really worked hard on the little things and it's been a great time at Mead. Even the last game we played was one of the most fun basketball games I've ever been a part."