LAFAYETTE — Even though things looked bleak for the underdog Mead High boys basketball team against Thomas Jefferson on Friday night, the Mavericks were determined to stick to their game plan until the shots started falling.
Facing the Spartans, who entered ranked third in Class 4A by the latest CHSAANow.com poll, the Mavericks hit a terrible shooting stretch in the second quarter that nearly cost them the game and a trip the championship match of the Boulder Valley Invitational. They also hit a red-hot shooting stretch that saved it.
For the Mavericks, it was all about staying the course in a thrilling 52-51 win secured on a jumper by senior Blake Goodwin in the waning seconds.
“Our guys battled and did what we wanted to do even in the stretch where we got a little bit cold and they went on a run,” Mavericks head coach Darin Reese said. “We were still getting the looks we wanted. We missed two layups and we missed two wide-open threes during that stretch. But all the way through, our guys were composed and made plays.”
Tied at nine points apiece through one quarter, the Spartans (3-2) opened the second quarter with a dunk from Josh McNair that sparked a 12-0 run. The Mavericks (2-1) went 0 for 7 from the field in the first 4 minutes, 15 seconds of the quarter, and 4 for 13 in the entire period, to fall behind 27-17 by halftime.
Early in the second half, however, the Mavericks found their range.
“It looked like they had the upper hand the whole game but we were getting good shots, they just weren’t falling,” Goodwin said. “We practice getting all our teammates good looks and hitting the open shot.”
Shooting 9 for 13 from the floor, and 4 for 6 from behind the 3-point line, the Mavericks outscored the Spartans 22-2 in the quarter and led 39-29 to start the fourth.
The Spartans cut the lead 45-44 with three minutes left to decide who would face Erie in the final on Saturday night. The Mavericks led 47-46 with two minutes left and 49-48 with one minute left.
With Mead leading 50-48 after an Alex Sandstrom free throw, Thomas Jefferson’s Henry Cooper hit a corner 3-pointer to put the Spartans up 51-50 with 30 seconds left. Goodwin answered with a mid-range jump shot from the right side to re-take the lead with 3.9.
“Walker (Korell) got made a good read and a good pass,” Goodwin said. “We practice shooting that shot over and over and over in practice so when it left my hands, I knew it was going in.”
The Spartans, who crushed Weld Central 63-25 in the first round of the Boulder Valley Invitational, traversed the court and got up one last shot from long range but it missed wide left.
Goodwin, who was a force inside at 6-foot-7, led all scorers with 19 points and also recorded four blocks. Mavericks junior guard Walker Korell scored 18. As a team, the Mavericks shot 47.9 percent from the field and forced the Spartans into 10 turnovers. The Spartans missed seven of their 15 free throws.
Having lost 62-51 to the top-ranked Longmont Trojans in their season opener and beating Prairie View 75-52 in the first round of the BVI, the Mavericks have already faced quite a gauntlet and still boast a winning record. They will face the Erie Tigers in the tournament championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Centaurus High School.
“Tonight was a big win for us,” Korell said. “We’re going into tomorrow night’s game with the same attitude: Just work hard and we’re going to play our hearts out and try to win.”
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Mead 52, Thomas Jefferson 51
At Centaurus H.S.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (3-2)
Moody 4 1-1 10, Garcia 2 2-2 6, Thaxton 0 0-0 0, H. Cooper 3 0-0 8, McNair 2 4-8 8, Gould 2 0-0 6, Rose 5 1-4 11, X. Cooper 0 0-0 0, Settles 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 8-15 51.
Maher 2 0-0 5, Ward 3 0-2 6, Korell 7 2-2 16, Cloke 0 0-0 0, Sandstrom 0 1-2 1, Rice 1 0-0 3, Gernant 0 0-0 0, Goodwin 9 0-0 19. Totals 22 3-6 52.
Score by quarters:
Thomas Jefferson 9 16 2 22 — 51
Mead 9 8 22 13 — 52
3-point field goals — Thomas Jefferson: Gould 2, Cooper 2, Moody; Mead: Korell 2, Goodwin, Rice, Maher. Total fouls — Thomas Jefferson 12, Mead 13.