LONGMONT — The Mead boys basketball team has put together deep playoff runs the past two seasons, but if the Mavericks want to repeat the feat it may come down to their ability to reset themselves after a couple of late season losses.
So far in the past week, it appears those setbacks to Windsor and Holy Family are but a distant memory. Earning the No. 20 seed in the Class 4A playoffs after ending the season with a victory against Berthoud, the Mavericks stormed out of the gates on Wednesday night with a convincing 55-47 home win over No. 45 Littleton in the first round.
Mead, now 15-9, out-scored the visiting Lions 32-15 in the middle two quarters of play, and only a small hiccup in the opening stages of the fourth quarter really kept the Mavericks from a runaway win.
"I definitely think we brought the intensity we needed, and that was lacking the last couple games," junior David Wilhelm said after posting 12 points — one of three double-digit scorers for Mead in the game. "We played together and got the win. I thought we locked down on defense pretty well the whole game."
In the few days prior to Valentine's Day, the Mavericks lost a heartbreaker to the Wizards and then couldn't follow up in a positive fashion against the Tigers. That dropped them to third in the Tri-Valley League and negated their chances of getting a first-round bye.
But, that could in fact be a blessing when all things are said and done. Against the Lions, they had to be ready to play strong defensively, especially out on top as LHS was not afraid to pop 3-point attempts. Not only did Mead hold Littleton 10 points below their season scoring average, but they did so by avoiding any foul trouble at all.
"Outside of maybe a couple possessions I thought we executed the defensive game plan really well," said head coach Darin Reese, whose team will gear up for a trip to No. 13 seed D'Evelyn on Saturday. "We didn't give their shooter many looks, we took away their driver, and didn't give their big guy many looks.
"We need to finish that game out a big stronger. I think we are in a good spot from a mindset standpoint. We've taken to heart all those (negative) moments from throughout the year, and I think some of those moments showed in our composure. It was pretty good all through this game."
Wilhelm scored some nice baskets and was rewarded for running the floor, but he was bursting with emotion when talking about the job Trey Ward did off the bench in a big second quarter.
Ward got an early second-quarter steal by throwing the ball off a Littleton player as he was going out of bounds, and on the Mead possession hit a 3-pointer to start a 13--0 run. In the midst of that stretch, he also drew a charge and would eventually have a blocked shot and hit another 3-pointer that made it 26-15 with just 30 seconds to go before half.
"Trey is probably the most energetic player on our team ... he just brings it every time," Wilhelm said. "He had a huge first half."
Derek Edwards took over in the third. The senior scored eight of his 15 points in that period and helped MHS forge a 42-25 lead by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Mead had four turnovers in the first 3 minutes of the fourth, easily its most sloppy stretch of play, but Littleton never got to within less than nine points until their final field goal with just a few seconds left provided the final score.
Mead and D'Evelyn played once this season already, a 54-48 win at MHS back on December 6.
"Hopefully we can play well and play with confidence on Saturday," Reese said.
Mead 55, Littleton 47
At Mead HS
Cutter 3 1-3 10, Levy 7 4-4 20, Kail 0 0-0 0, Tanner 1 0-0 3, Friedberg 1 0-0 3, Iken 0 0-0 0, McGuire 1 0-0 3, Bergschneider 1 1-2 3, Sagrillo-Smiley 0 0-0 0, Simon 0 0-0 0, MacDonald 2 1-2 5. Totals 16 7-11 47.
Ayers 0 0-0 0, N. Jacobs 2 2-2 7, Maher 1 0-2 3, Wilhelm 3 6-6 12, Ward 2 0-0 6, Lee 1 0-0 2, Edwards 5 3-6 15, Wilke 4 1-4 10. Totals 18 12-20 55.
Score by quarters:Littleton 108722—47
3-point field goals — Littleton (8): Cutter 3, Levy 2, Tanner, Friedberg, McGuire; Mead (5): Ward 2, Maher, Jacobs, Wilke. Fouled out — Bergschneider.