BROOMFIELD — Thursday night's game between Mead and Holy Family had all the makings of a colossal regular-season boys basketball showdown.
The game, which featured the top two teams in the Tri-Valley League, promised to have a significant impact on the conference's title race.
Ranked No. 10 in Class 4A by the latest CHSAANow.com poll, Mead entered Thursday's contest riding a 10-game win streak and was unbeaten in Tri-Valley League play. Holy Family entered the game ranked No. 3 and had won seven in a row, and also entered the contest with an unblemished conference record.
Gutting out a hard-fought victory on the road, it was the Mead Mavericks who came out on top in a 50-45 game. With the win, the Mavs moved into sole possession of first place in the Tri-Valley League.
"It's amazing. I feel great right now," Mead senior Jax Wilke said. "We've been thinking about this game since last year and we've waited a year for it. They made a huge run to keep it close at the end but we've been playing really well. We've still got stuff to work on but this win was a big step for us."
Through their first 14 games, the Mead Mavericks (12-3, 8-0) hit an average of 8.9 3-pointers a game and were averaging 71.8 points a night after putting up 90 against Erie on Tuesday. The Holy Family Tigers (12-3, 7-1) had held its first 14 opponents to 43.3 points a game.
Despite a raucous home crowd, the Tigers got off to a slow start on Thursday night. The Mavericks, however, did not, and pulled ahead 15-6 after one quarter. With Mead up 26-12 at halftime, Holy Family's leading scorers Tanner Baird (15.3 ppg) and Kyle Helbig (13.8 ppg) had combined for just three points.
Senior Caleb Ayers hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for Mead, and Nick Jacobs scored a team-high 14 points including several critical baskets in the fourth quarter. Mead head coach Darin Reese said building a sizable lead on the road was critical for his team to pull off the upset.
"That was huge," Reese said. "They have been, and are, the class of our league. We've had some good battled and they've come out on top in most of them. I'm proud of our guys, sticking to it defensively. When we defend and we lock in, we can be pretty darn tough. We showed some good composure down the stretch when they made their big run, too."
The Tigers outscored Mead, 18-11, in the third quarter and trailed by between seven and four points for most of the fourth. Junior forward Adam Jolly made a layup to cut the Mavericks' lead to three with 19.3 seconds left in the game but the visiting team held on for the victory.
"We struggled that first half and we were too stagnant," Holy Family head coach Pete Villecco said. "The ball was sticking and we just didn't get many quality shots. It's disappointing in a game like this, but you know at halftime it was still positive. We felt like (that was) as poor as we could play and we were only down 14.
"We had a good conversation at halftime and our energy was at a different level and we fought a lot harder in the second half. We got to within seven and just kind of ran out of gas. They are a quality team, so our margin of error is small."
Holy Family and Mead will square off again in the Tri-Valley season finale on Feb. 14 at Mead.
Up next, Mead will host Berthoud on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Holy Family will host Frederick.
Mead 50, Holy Family 45
At Holy Family H.S.
MEAD (12-3, 8-0)
N. Jacobs 5 2-2 14, Maher 3 2-2 9, Wilhelm 2 1-3 5, Ward 1 1-2 3, Ayers 5 0 0-0 13, Knudsen 0 0-0 0, Wilke 2 2-2 6, McGill 0 0-0 0, KJ Jacobs 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 8-11 50.
HOLY FAMILY (12-3, 7-1)
Nellis 1 0-0 2, Helbig 1 0-0 3, Becker 0 0-0 0, Baird 6 3-4 15, Fernandez 0 0-0 0, Green 1 0-0 3, Jolly 8 4-6 20. Totals 17 7-10 45.
Score by quarters:Mead 15 11 11 13 — 50
Holy Family 6 6 18 15 — 45
3-point field goals — Mead (6): Ayers 3, N. Jacobs 2, Maher; Holy Family (2): Helbig, Green. Total fouls — Mead 7, Holy Family 11.