MEAD — Forget about easing into the season. Stress levels already were stratospheric Friday night.
In the opener for both teams, Longmont traveled to Mead and edged the host Mavericks 47-46 after a nervy sequence of closing moments.
Longmont sophomore Sarah Nichols broke a 45-45 tie with seven seconds remaining by drilling two foul shots in the pressure cooker.
“That was huge,” Longmont coach Mike Knaus said.
Mead’s Katie Maher then drew a foul on the other end with 0.1 seconds showing on the clock. She made the first then Longmont called timeout to ice her. The second fell short and the horn sounded almost immediately.
Longmont’s comeback from a nine-point halftime deficit was complete.
“We had those first-game jitters,” Knaus said. “We came in down at halftime and talked about what we needed to do. We slowed down the tempo a bit and just played better.”
Junior center Sydney Wetterstrom is Longmont’s marquee player, and after a quiet first half, finished with 14 points and six rebounds. It was a solid-but-not-spectacular performance, which is good news for the Trojans. It means Wetterstrom doesn’t have to be at her best for them to win.
Grace Hamm and Madi Gaibler added 10 points apiece for the Trojans, with Gaibler especially effective in the latter going. Her inside basket put Longmont ahead 45-43 with 1 minute, 18 seconds to play before Mead tied it on two Haylee McCullough free throws with 18 seconds left.
Gaibler’s two free throws at the 3:19 mark gave Longmont its initial lead since the first quarter at 43-42.
Knaus terms the Trojans a “work in progress” after losing his three perimeter starters to graduation, but liked what he saw from his newcomers, particularly Nichols.
“As we get better on the perimeter we’re going to get better as an entire team,” Knaus said.
Mead coach Michael Ward felt for Maher after the missed foul shot, but said the senior was able to keep her head up.
“It’s a tough position to be in, but it shouldn’t have come down to that,” he said. “It’s Game 1, and to come up short in that position, so what. You want to hit those, but it just didn’t work out for her tonight. She’ll be put in that position again this year sometime and she’ll knock them down.”
When Ward says it shouldn’t have come down to the free throws, he is referring to entering the second half up by nine.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We put them at the line too many times.”
Kaylee Dion scored 11 points for the Mavericks, who were entangled in foul trouble throughout and allowed the Trojans 31 trips to the foul line.
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Longmont 47, Mead 46
At Mead HS
Sarah Nichols 2 4-6 9, Grace Hamm 2 6-8 10, Sydney Wetterstrom 5 4-9 14, Madi Gaibler 4 2-2 10, Kyra Duffy 0 2-2 2, Alexis Cox 0 0-0 0, Sydney Fixmer 0 0-2 0, Kennedy Sheetz 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 20-31 47.
Kaylee Dion 3 3-4 11, Katie Maher 3 2-7 9, Kara Lozinski 2 0-1 4, Rylee Ward 2 0-0 6, Haylee McCullough 2 3-4 7, Cami Kamigaki 1 0-2 2, Shaylee Jelinek 1 0-0 3, Sophie Smith 0 0-0 0, Courtney McKrola 1 2-4 4. Totals 15 10-19 46.
Score by quarters:
Longmont 10 8 14 15 — 47
Mead 12 15 8 11 — 46
3-point field goals — Longmont (1): Nichols; Mead (6): Dion 2, Ward 2, Maher, Jelinek. Total fouls — Longmont 17, Mead 25. Fouled out — McKrola.