ERIE -- The Mead girls basketball team beat Erie in December and again in January. The Erie Tigers, however, have been a totally different team in the month of February.
In the Tri-Valley League rivals' third clash this season, the Tigers flipped the script on the Mavericks and beat them 50-35 on Tuesday night.
"We came out big for this game because we really wanted it, especially since we've already lost two to them," Tigers senior guard Amanda Ochoa said. "We've been trying to work on our defense because that's our strong point."
Ochoa, who scored 24 points against Roosevelt and 22 against Frederick last week, put up 14 against the Mavericks. She felt like her seven assists against the Mavericks' press, however, had a greater impact on Tuesday night.
"It's not about the points, it's about the assists," Ochoa said. "It's always good to have a big scoring game because it makes you feel good. But I just wanted to get my teammates some shots and get my team some points."
Serena Gudino and Piper Zeier, who combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds, held their own against Mead's powerful post players. Mavericks forward Kasey McKrola scored 12 points, Alison Majerus scored four and Mikayla Martinez finished with three.
"I wouldn't say it was entirely me and Piper. We had help," Gudino said. "We couldn't have done that without our team. Our defense is a big thing for us and we think we have the best defense in the league."
Since losing three straight games at the end of January, the Tigers have put together a five-game win streak. Their defense has held four of their last five opponents to fewer than 40 points. Roosevelt scored 42 against them on Feb. 5.
Zeier said the Tigers are excited about the way there are playing in February and the wins they've been picking up against Tri-Valley League opponents that beat them the first time through the league schedule.
"We came out hard today because we knew we had to get this," said Zeier, who hit a buzzer-beating shot to give the Tigers a 38-26 lead to start the fourth quarter. "Overall, we just showed a better defensive effort and we came out harder on offense."
The Mavericks beat the Tigers 43-34 on Dec. 8 and 46-41 on Jan. 18.
After scoring the game's first two points on Tuesday night, the Mavericks went scoreless until 3:45 remained in the second quarter. During that span, the Tigers went on a 20-0 run. By halftime, they trailed 28-11.
Head coach Michael Ward said the Mavericks, who have lost three straight games, struggled against the Tigers' trap. They turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter.
"They came out with more intensity. They started out the game and they were flying around," Ward said. "We didn't match their intensity, whatsoever. It also would have helped if we'd have hit some shots early and didn't get down so far."
The third-place Tigers (13-8, 8-4) widened their lead over the fourth-place Mavericks (11-10, 6-6) in the Tri-Valley League standings. Since the Tri-Valley League gets five automatic playoff bids, according to Ward, both teams will be looking to finish strong and remain in the top five.
Skyline (10-11, 4-8) and eighth-ranked Windsor (18-3, 12-0) remain on the Tigers' schedule. The Mavericks will wrap up the regular season against Northridge (2-19, 1-11) and Roosvelt (9-12, 6-6).
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi
Erie 50, Mead 35
At Erie HS
MEAD (11-10, 6-6)
Maher 4 1-1 10, Martinez 1 1-2 3, Daly 0 0-0 0, Reeves 0 0-0 0, Hanlon 2 0-0 5, Majerus 2 0-2 4, Lozinski 0 0-0 0, Ward 0 1-2 1, McKrola 4 4-12 12, Sheffield 0 0-0 0, Kalivas 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 7-19 35.
ERIE (13-8, 8-4)
Bauchert 1 0-0 2, Gallagher 2 0-2 4, Kraus 0 0-0 0, Ochoa 3 8-13 14, Kudrna 1 0-0 2, Romey 0 0-0 0, Gudino 4 7-9 15, Wattier 0 0-0 0, Martus 0 0-0 0, Hearon 0 0-0 0, Campbell 1 0-0 2, Zeier 5 0-2 10. Totals 17 15-26 50.
Score by quarters:
Mead 2 9 15 9 -- 35
Erie 14 14 10 12 -- 50
3-point field goals -- Mead (2): Maher, Majerus; Erie (0): None. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.