MEAD — Kevin Mitchell missed a handful of Longmont’s preseason basketball practices, but he certainly wasn’t the only one.
With the Trojans football team making a run to the 4A championship game, several others were still on the gridiron while the rest of the Trojans were in the gym. Yet Longmont looked anything but unprepared Friday night at Mead, where the Mitchell-led Trojans topped the host Mavericks 62-51.
Mitchell missed practice time because of a hyper-extended knee and a lateral meniscus strain, but is recuperated now. He slashed his way to a game-high 26 points off the bench, dominating both in the paint and with a feathery perimeter jumper.
“It was tough, because we were struggling in the beginning with some scrimmages,” Mitchell said. “But we have the guys back now and we’re so happy to have them.”
Five football players are on the roster, including starters David Speidel and Eli Sullivan. The football season ended just Saturday, when the Trojans fell 45-20 to Pine Creek. The first basketball game followed Wednesday night, a 65-27 win against Weld Central.
“I’ll be honest, it’s been a tough go,” Trojans coach Jeff Kloster said. “We had kids who are really sore from the football game, so we had to be real careful with them. They’re great competitors, and they wanted to get that bad taste out of their mouth from (Sports Authority) Field and just move on.”
The Trojans (2-0), who also received 17 points from guard Justinian Jessup, led by nine at halftime before really ramping it up in the third quarter. They began the quarter on a 17-3 run and never looked back.
Mitchell was unconscious from the floor and would have had an even better night if not for a pedestrian 7 for 13 performance from the foul line.
“He was a big problem,” Mead coach Darin Reese said. “Against our defense in the high post area, when you have a kid that talented who can hit that 15-footer and then can also go to the rim with a variety of moves, it makes it tough.”
Michael Ward scored 17 for the Mavericks, who return only four players from last season’s varsity roster. Mead ramped up its patented perimeter game in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks entered the period trailing by 21.
Six-foot-7 center Blake Goodwin added 12 points and nine rebounds for Mead.
“Our four guys with varsity experience knew what to expect going in,” Reese said. “But our five other guys hadn’t seen that level of play. To start against a team that talented, it’ll make us better.”
Kloster would have liked his Trojans to close things out a little more smoothly and have a better performance at the line (15 for 29), but understands the Trojans got a later start than most.
“We saw flashes of what we’re going to become, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “But I love our athleticism and I love how competitive we are.”
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Longmont 62, Mead 51
At Mead HS
Justinian Jessup 6 5-8 17, David Speidel 2 1-2 6, Kolton Bachman 0 0-0 0, Blake O’Grady 3 1-2 7, Eli Sullivan 0 0-2 0, Cooper Rothe 2 0-0 5, Jorge Cordova 0 0-0 0, Ryan Rulon 0 1-2 1, Kevin Mitchell 9 7-13 26. Totals 22 15-29 62.
James Maher 2 2-3 7, Michael Ward 7 0-0 17, Walker Korell 1 1-2 3, David Gernant 0 0-0 0, Blake Goodwin 5 2-5 12, Ryan Cheung 0 0-0 0, Jake Cloke 0 0-1 0, Alex Sandstrom 3 0-0 9, Micahel Rice 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 5-11 51.
Score by quarters:
Longmont 11 18 20 13 — 62
Mead 10 10 8 23 — 51
3-point field goals — Longmont (3): Speidel, Rothe, Mitchell; Mead (8): Ward 3, Sandstrom 3, Maher, Rice. Total fouls — Longmont 15, Mead 21.