LONGMONT — It wasn't exactly what the Mead Mavericks had in mind for their 2018 playoff debut.
After earning a first round bye and the No. 13 overall seed in the Class 4A playoff bracket, the Mavs had plenty of time to prepare for, watch film on and mentally prep for the Sierra Stallions.
It's one thing to see them on film, it's quite another to experience the speed and athleticism up close and personal. Sierra, trailed 21-19 at the half, then opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run and never looked back en route to a 55-41 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night.
"You've got to give them all the credit in the world, they played really well. They are really athletic and really quick and they gave us a lot of trouble with their quickness," said Mead coach Vern Rathbun, whose team (for the second straight season) lost star Anna Veltien to a torn ACL.
"We had trouble getting into offenses and running things the way we usually do simply because their quickness made it so difficult for us."
And it didn't help matters that everything the 20th-seeded Stallions (17-8) threw up in the third quarter seemed to drop.
The Mavs hung around despite nine third quarter turnovers, down 30-27 late in the period when the Stallions put their exclamation point on a spectacular eight minutes of basketball.
A relentless 9-0 run over a 90 second stretch, that culminated in Aubrey Robinson's four-point play, seemed to take the Mavericks out of the game. Robinson finished with 26 points.
"We missed way too many layups and we missed way too many free throws," Rathbun said. "And that made the difference. You can't do that at this point in the season."
The Mavs, who made just three field goals in the first half, missed 13 free throws in the 32 chances they were given.
Mead made a concerted effort to get the ball to Abbey Glynn in the second half and the 6-foot junior scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the final two quarters. Anna Maher also scored 14 for the Mavs.
"I told the girls you have to remember that every team in the state has this game, but one," Rathbun said. "A lot of close games and we lost our captain mid-season. We had to come back from that and adjust and we won a lot of games that a lot of people didn't think we'd win."
Sierra will hit the road again in the Sweet 16, when they head to Windsor on Tuesday night. The Wizards, the Tri-Valley League co-champions with Holy Family, dispatched Steamboat Springs on Friday night.
SIERRA 55, MEAD 41
Wilson 4 0-2 8, Mileto 1 0-0 2, Williams 2 0-0 5, Lewis 0 0-0 0, Lacour 1 1-2 3, Robinson 8 8-9 26, Monroe-Shivers 1 0-0 2, Girling 1 4-5 6, Johnson 1 1-3 3. Totals 19 14-21 55.
Hernandez 0 2-3 2, Martinez 0 0-0 0, Griebling 0 1-2 1, A. Maher 2 10-13 14, Choksey 0 0-0 0, Levine 0 0-2 0, Gilbert 2 2-2 6, Glynn 5 4-8 14, O'Dell 2 0-2 4. Totals 11 19-32 41.
Score by quarters:Sierra9102016—55
3-point field goals — Sierra (3): Robinson 2, Williams; Mead (0): None. Total fouls — Sierra 19, Mead 17. Technical foul — Robinson.