LONGMONT — At times, the boys basketball game between the Skyline Falcons and Mead Mavericks felt more like a heavyweight title fight than a basketball game.
Both teams would trade leads and big plays in a competitive battle for four quarters in a packed gymnasium at Skyline High School. A small run in the third quarter helped the Mavericks take the lead for good as they went on to win 59-49 to complete the season series sweep over Skyline and win for the 17th straight time.
“In these high energy games, it’s always good to get a win,” Mead’s Will Maher said. “It’s good preparation for the playoffs and it was a great atmosphere for a Friday night.”
Friday’s game began fast with Mead (17-1, 11-0) getting out in transition and scoring inside and out. Despite the faster pace, Skyline was able to hang with the Mavericks, its own mix of scoring in the paint and from the 3-point line resulting in a 19-17 score after a quarter of play.
The pace slowed a bit in the second quarter, with Skyline (12-5, 6-4) using more time on the clock and getting back in transition to force Mead to set up in the half-court offense. When the Falcons were able to run their motion sets on offense, it led to center Austin Robison scoring on the block, at the foul line and even out beyond the arc — part of an 11-point effort for the senior in the first half.
“I just try get my teammates open, and once they get open, I get open,” Robison said.
Skyline took its first lead in the second quarter, but Mead drained a couple of 3-pointers late in the quarter that helped them take a 28-25 lead at the half.
Another slow quarter followed in the third and forced Mead to execute in the half-court and trade the lead with the Falcons. Gage Robertson drilled a shot from the perimeter to put Skyline in front by one, which led to a spark finally coming from the Mavericks. Using steals to get out and run, along with a string of shots falling from deep, the Mavericks closed the third quarter on a 9-0 and then scored the first six points of the fourth to pull ahead by double digits.
“I think this shows how tough of a team we are,” Maher said. “(Skyline) is a great defensive team and it’s tough to play here. You put those two things together and it’s tough to get buckets. But we did what we had to do to show how tough we can be.”
The lead would get up to as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Mavericks as they never looked back down the stretch.
Mead finished 7-for-22 from the 3-point line and shot 51 percent from the field in the win. Maher led the team with 17 points and made four 3s, while Trey Ward scored 11. Jacob Bartholomew stepped up inside for the Mavericks with nine points.
As for getting their 17th win in a row, the team says they’re not focused on that and are looking towards the big picture of a deep postseason run.
“We’re just focused on next Friday and going from there,” Maher said.
Robison led all scorers with 24 points and Robertson scored 13 to pace the Falcons in the loss. Playing with the No. 2 team in the state gives the team both confidence they can play with anyone and shows areas they need to work on moving forward, according to Robison.
“I think if we can challenge them, we can play with anyone,” Robison said. “We got the talent to play with them. We could handle the pressure. So if we can do that against other teams, we can make a run.”
Young Mead girls show growth in win
In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, Mead (8-9, 4-6) defeated Skyline (4-13, 2-8) on the road 49-40 to snap a four-game losing streak.
“We were going on a good run with Holy Family and Erie, but it kind of fell back down against Windsor, so it’s good to get back on our feet,” Mead’s Maddox Boston said.
Lindrey Schendel scored the first basket of the game for Skyline, but the rest of the quarter belonged to Mead. The Mavericks scored 12 unanswered to end the first and added 14 points in the second. Meanwhile, the Mavericks were able to contain Schendel and Ashayla Powers on offense and hold the Falcons to 2-of-19 shooting from the field in the first half to get a 27-7 lead.
“They like to drive, so we have to keep our hands up and not foul them,” Boston said.
More defense in the third quarter got the lead to 38-16 heading into the fourth. Skyline refused to go away quietly in the final quarter as they put 24 points on the board thanks to their work attacking in the paint and getting rewarded with layups and free throw opportunities. In the end, the Mavericks did just enough to complete the season series sweep.
Freshman Kyra Haan led the Mavericks with 11 points and Boston, a sophomore, scored 10. Production from fellow underclassmen Charlotte Brennan and Jackyln Stephenson helped the team get the win and showed the potential for the group moving forward.
“It’s been a lot better since last year,” Boston said. “It’s only going to keep getting better as we keep going because of our youth.”
Powers and Schendel scored 34 of Skyline’s 40 points with Powers getting 22 and Schendel scoring 12.
Both Mead and Skyline are scheduled to face the Frederick Warriors in their next games. Skyline will travel to Frederick on Tuesday while Mead will host the Warriors next Friday.