LONGMONT — At first, Mead senior basketball player Anna Veltien was a little unsure of the Mavericks' hours-long trip in early December to a random tournament in Steamboat Springs.
After pocketing the championship of the Steamboat Shootout — perhaps incentive for the school to keep scheduling the bus ride over — Veltien has seen firsthand the positive way it has effected their team in her final campaign.
For Veltien, a game like Friday night's against Erie showed the growth of the squad. Coming out of the halftime locker room a little angry, the Mavericks had a big third quarter and were able to hold off the Tigers 51-45 to improve to 2-0 in Tri-Valley League play.
It was teamwork that led the charge.
"Traveling as a team, we just got to know each other a lot better and we built that chemistry, and then after we won that I think our confidence just took off," Veltien said after scoring a game-most 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting and adding 10 rebounds. "It really felt good to win that tournament, and then come back and get our league win against Roosevelt. It just feels like it's going to keep going from here."
"We're trying not to be a one-dimensional team and just trying to do better with getting everybody shots and getting everybody involved."
The Mavericks are 8-2 overall and Friday represented their first chance to get back on the floor for game action since before Christmas. They made it tough on themselves with eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, helping Erie close the gap after Mead had out-scored the Tigers 18-6 in the third, but overall it was a game the hosts could take and build on.
Veltien did most of her damage in the second quarter, helping Mead overcome a slow start to the contest. She scored four straight baskets for her team early in the frame before the Tigers went on a 15-5 run over the final 5:29 to take a 26-24 halftime lead.
Mead head coach Vern Rathbun made an impression on the Mavericks inside the locker room, and it worked as they spread the floor a little more to open up opportunities for Alanna Hernandez and Anna Maher. The pair accounted for 12 of the team's third-quarter points.
Abbey Glynn also had 10 points, and it was her offensive rebound and putback with 1:33 to go — after a Hernandez missed free throw — that was her biggest contribution, making the score 49-39 and essentially putting Mead back in the driver's seat.
"Our coach was pretty upset with the way we played the first half and wanted us to come together and try to play to our strengths," Veltien said. "It feels pretty good to have our second (league) win under our belt. We lost this game last year and just never seemed to recover from it."
Erie, which was playing without Kaitlyn Patterson, was led by Jade Phillips' 11 points. Freshman Anna Hefner made a solid contribution on both ends of the floor with eight points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
Mead 51, Erie 45
At Mead HS
ERIE (3-6, 0-2)
Purcell 3 0-0 7, Huonder 0 1-2 1, Phillips 3 4-8 11, Erbe 3 1-2 7, Green 0 1-2 1, Hobak 3 3-4 9, Kia 0 1-8 1, Hefner 4 0-0 8. Totals 16 11-26 45.
MEAD (8-2, 2-0)
Hernandez 2 1-3 7, Maher 2 8-11 12, Choksey 0 0-0 0, Levine 0 0-0 0, Veltien 7 0-1 16, Gilbert 1 0-0 2, Glynn 4 2-2 10, O'Dell 2 0-1 4. Totals 18 11-18 51.
Score by quarters:Erie1016613—45
3-point field goals — Erie (2): Phillips, Purcell; Mead (4): Hernandez 2, Veltien 2.