LONGMONT — The Mead girls basketball team took the floor Saturday night with a chance to make their 2013-14 home opener the win that brought them back to .500 after the holiday break.
Facing a resurgent Niwot team, the Mavericks shook of the holiday rust to beat the Cougars 63-38.
Mavericks senior forward Allison Majerus powered the win down low with 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Most importantly, Majerus said, ringing in the New Year with a win allowed the Mavericks (4-4) to enter the Tri-Valley League schedule more confidently with an even win-loss record.
“It’s a good start to kick off our season because it gives us confidence going in,” Majerus said. “I think our first eight games really helped us but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We feel we could have done a lot better in league last year and we’re playing a lot better as a team than at this point last year so we’re excited.”
The Mavericks, who went 7-7 in Tri-Valley League play last year, used their height and pressure defense to take a 33-18 halftime lead against the Cougars.
While they had the rebounding advantage, the Mavericks felt their balanced scoring and passing offense made the difference. Reserve guard Haylee McCullough dished out five assists, combining with guards Rylee Ward, Katie Maher and Marina Hanlon for 12.
In all, the Mavericks scored 19 of their 28 fields goals on assists.
“The way we passed the ball was huge tonight,” Mead’s Kari Lozinski said. “We’ve been working on fast breaks and pushing it up the floor. In the half court, we were looking for each other and that helped a lot.”
Saturday’s win left the Mavericks happy to enter their conference schedule at .500. Though they lost, the Cougars are pretty happy to enter the 4A Northern League schedule with a winning record.
“That’s a better record than I’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” Cougars junior Hannah Sarosi said. “We all want to finish with a better record this year and that really helps our confidence. We’re going to win conference games this year and we’re going to make a difference.”
In the first year of head coach Terri Ward’s return to the bench, the Cougars already have won more games in 2013-14 than in each of the past two seasons. Last year’s 52-19 loss to the Mavericks was their worst offensive performance of the season against a non-conference opponent. Doubling that scoring output Saturday night one was indicative of how far they’ve come in one year.
Sarosi finished with seven points and five rebounds. While the Mavericks held Niwot leading scorer Anna Dunnell (13.3 points per game) to six points, Callie Hensen led the Cougars with nine points.
“It was a better than last year,” Sarosi said. “Our energy level didn’t go down at all and we kept playing well even when we were down. We definitely need to work on our boxing out and not giving them second chances. We all played better together. We weren’t selfish and we made the extra pass.”
Before Saturday, both teams last played in mid-December. The Mavericks went into the break riding a 45-40, non-league win over conference rival Erie on Dec. 14 that earned them fifth-place at the Boulder Valley Invitational. Five days later, the same Erie team defeated the Cougars 45-28 to snap Niwot’s three-game win streak.
The Cougars went 0-14 in 4A Northern League play last year but the Cougars are more confident this year, entering the conference schedule with a winning record. The Cougars will begin their 4A Northern League schedule at home against Thompson Valley (4-3) on Tuesday.
The Mavericks will open the 4A Tri-Valley League schedule at home against Frederick (3-2) on Tuesday.
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Mead 63, Niwot 38
At Mead HS
Montgomery 1 0-0 2, Mercier 0 0-0 0, Hensen 3 2-3 9, Sarosi 3 1-2 7, Chen 0 2-2 2, Jenkins 0 0-0 0, McCaffrey 2 2-7 6, Pilewski 1 3-4 5, Dunnell 3 0-0 6, Albert 0 1-5 1. Totals 13 11-23 38.
Dion 1 0-0 2, Martinez 6 1-2 13, Daly 0 0-0 0, Kraft 0 0-0 0, Hanlon 1 0-0 3, Majerus 7 2-2 16, Rayl 2 0-2 4, Lozinski 3 2-3 8, Ward 2 1-4 5, McCullough 2 0-2 4, Maher 4 0-2 8. Totals 29 6-17 63.
Score by quarters:
Niwot 9 9 11 9 — 38
Mead 19 14 16 14 — 63
3-point field goals — Niwot (1): Hensen; Mead (1): Hanlon. Total fouls — Niwot 14, Mead 22.