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Girls basketball: Mead cruises into second round of 4A state tournament

Mavericks eye regular-season rematch with Thompson Valley on Friday

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Mead forward Jackie Stephenson (23) jumps and reaches out to receive an inbounds pass versus the Northfield Nighthawks in the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 at Mead High School.
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LONGMONT — The Mead Mavericks girls basketball team won their first playoff game since 2015 in dominating fashion with their young roster Tuesday night.

The No. 27 seeded Mavericks upended the No. 38 seed Northfield Nighthawks 62-28 on their home court in the first round of the Class 4A state basketball tournament.

“It feels great,” Mead’s Jackie Stephenson said. “We’re getting better every day and it’s just coming together. I’m proud of us, we did good.”

Mead broke an 8-8 tie with six unanswered points to end the first quarter, and it was in the second where they went on a big run that created a sizable cushion. Northfield hit a 3-point shot with just over seven minutes to go in the second and did not score again until there was 1:57 left in the half with a pair of free throws.

“We challenged our kids to get in the passing lane tonight, read that next pass and go get it,” Mead coach JR Sagner said, his team 12-12 and onto a second round game Friday. “I thought the moments we played good defense, we did that.”

In the span where Northfield (12-12) did not score in the second, the Mavericks went on a 14-0 run with transition layups and post ups that led to a big scoring advantage in the paint.

“When we play good defense and get out in the transition game, our offense opens up quite a bit,” Sagner added.

Another long stretch of tough defense in the third quarter put the game out of reach for good and saw the Mavericks lead 52-21. In particular, the team worked to shut down Northfield’s leading scorers in Malia Heien and Giavonna Meeks, both of whom were averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds a game. On Tuesday, the duo was held to nine points and 13 rebounds between the two on the night.

And, the Mavericks had their own post player in Stephenson to counter on the offensive end.

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Mead guards Savanna Griebling (left) and Charlotte Brennan (right) dive with a Northfield player to get possession of a loose ball in the first half of their Class 4A state girls basketball tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 at Mead High School.

Stephenson went 8-of-11 shooting from the field, almost exclusively in the paint, and  also hit 4 of 5 free throws for a game-most 20 points. She was the lone double-digit scorer for either team.

“Honestly, I did not know how many points I scored,” Stephenson said. “It felt good.”

Maddox Boston had seven points, and finishing with six apiece were Maddie Muntz, Savanna Griebling and Emily Sauvageau. A total of 11 players scored for the Mavericks as Sagner was able to empty his bench for the entire fourth quarter and rest his starters for the next game.

With the win, the Mavericks advance to the second round of the playoffs and will hit the road to face the No. 6 seed Thompson Valley Eagles (22-1) on Friday. The game will be a rematch of their meeting in the regular season back on Dec. 20 that saw Thompson Valley outscore Mead 19-10 in the fourth quarter to win, 60-54.

“We’re definitely looking forward to that one,” Stephenson said. “We lost to them by six at the beginning of the season and we’re ready to take them on.”

Better execution down the stretch and on a consistent basis is something Mead hopes will go differently in the rematch to try and pull off the upset Friday night.

“When we played them last, we both played pretty good games,” Sagner said. “There were some things we would like to execute better against them that I think will help us. Ultimately, it’s about playing our brand of basketball, and that is defensive, sharing the basketball and looking ahead to keep everyone involved.”

Daily Camera file photo
Mary Maher of Mead (right) works to turn Northfield guard Zinell Bouknight (left) on defense in the first half of their Class 4A state girls basketball tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 at Mead High School. (Photo by Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com)