MEAD — Caleb Ayers and the rest of the guards for the Mead Mavericks were shooting at will from the 3-point line to start. They were hitting those shots, showing that they were a legitimate threat to defending Class 4A state champion Longmont on their home floor on Friday night.
But the Trojans showed their championship poise with a big second half, overcoming a 10-point deficit to win 77-64 at Mead High School.
"We showed tremendous resiliency in the third quarter," Longmont coach Jeff Kloster said. "We had a 10-point deficit at halftime and just didn't play the type of defense we expect from our program. We had to make some adjustments for the kids to know that that was what got us where we were last season."
Ayers hit his first 3-point shot of the game and saw Will Maher and hit another with him in the first quarter. The lead grew in the second with Ayers hitting three more shots from behind the arc while Trey Ward and others contributed from long range. By the end of the first half, the Mavericks were shooting well over 50 percent from the 3-point line, helping them take a 36-26 lead.
"The bottom line was we were not being pro-active, we were being reactive," Kloster said. "The ball was in the shooter's hands before we were going out to challenge them. We have to be able to see and move on release."
The Trojans were able to do a better job defending the 3-point line in the second half, holding Ayers to two shots made from behind the arc. Other players were not able to hit consistently in the second half as well.
When the shots were not falling, Longmont took its chance to swing the game in its favor in the second half.
The long shots off the rim were being rebounded inside and then followed by long outlet passes to set up the transition game. When the Mavericks were able to get back and set up the defense, the Trojans still attacked the rim, going for layups and looks in the paint.
Leading the way in the third quarter was Calvin Seamons with eight points, converting a pair of traditional 3-point plays and getting a third layup in the quarter.
"Coach (Kloster) was saying that to stop the run, we had to finish at the rim," Seamons said. "We did just that."
Seamons and company sparked a 17-0 run in the third quarter that saw the Trojans go from trailing by 10 points to leading by seven. They would take a 55-47 lead into the fourth quarter, only to see Mead score 10 straight points to get the lead back.
The aggressiveness on offense and composure in the fourth quarter made the difference as Longmont went on a 13-1 run midway through to go back up by double figures. Its big run was enough to see the Trojans hold on late for the top-10 win on the road.
"It feels real good to win this," Seamons said. "Especially with the end of last season, we just need to prove that we are a top-five team."
Beck Page led the Trojans with 16 points while Seamons and Brady Renck followed with 13. Five players would score in double figures for Longmont. Mead was led by 21 points from Ayers and 20 from Jax Wilke.
Longmont proved it can still be a dangerous team this season, but Kloster said there is still work to be done for his team to make another run at the state title this year.
"Our team still has to work hard in practice," Kloster said. "The thing I see is that we need to stress fundamentals on both ends of the floor. We have to make sure we recognize that there is a certain brand (of basketball) we want to play, and if we play that brand, we're going to be pretty good."