Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — Run-and-gun Mead isn’t known to slow things down. Trying to remember its last fourth quarter deficit, however — well, that was enough to give speedy senior guard Will Maher pause.
“Uh,” he thought. “I don’t know, honestly.”
Coming into Wednesday night, the Mavericks’ three-month-long winning streak featured only four games decided by single digits and none finishing closer than six. So, when looking at a late deficit in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game against Silver Creek, it all seemed a bit foreign for the classification’s top-seeded team and its rowdy fanbase.
And then … right back to normal.
Maher scored eight of his 19 points as part of a late run that helped Mead retake control and move into the Great 8 for a second straight year, beating the No. 16 Raptors 75-63.
A few minutes earlier, Silver Creek stirred unrest into a packed, mostly burnt-orange gymnasium, as it took its first lead of the night on Zach Noesen’s 3 with 6:59 remaining. Andrew Duquette’s deep swish a bit later pushed their lead to 56-54.
“They came to play,” Maher said. “I think it was good for us to see. There’s no easy ones from here on out.”
The closing act for Mead was a 15-0 counter punch. Trey Ward quickly turned a swat the other way for easy points at the 5-minute mark and JP Shiers threw in a two-handed dunk as the Mavericks were on their way back to state quarterfinals, where they fell to Holy Family a year ago.
“You got to face adversity every game,” Ward said. “Even if we’re up 20, there’s going to be adversity. We preach all the time that we’re going to have to keep chipping away at any deficit we’re at and just stay composed.”
Mead (24-1), with the sprint joystick pushed in, stuck to its up-tempo style of play that crushed teams throughout the past three months. Nick Jacobs had 13 points in its 24th straight win, while Ward and his uncanny ability to go from the ground to hanging off the rim in a flash added another 12. Jacob Bartholomew had 11.
The Mavericks threw down four dunks in the second quarter alone but could never sustain a big lead. Ward hit a pair of free throws to push the advantage to six early in the quarter before Reece Rarden completed a three-point play on the other end. They then built two other leads of seven before half, but each time the Raptors calmly brought things back.
In the third, Andrew Scott’s corner 3 tied things at 43-43 before Maher gave the Mavs the lead back with a transition bucket followed by a flip pass to Bartholomew for an alley-oop. Then, to start the fourth, Silver Creek (17-8) went on an 8-2 run to take its first lead of the night.
“Mead is a very mature basketball team and you have to give them credit for being a really good team,” Silver Creek coach Bob Banning said. “And you got to give our team credit for really playing the game of their life and giving it a good run.”
Duquette had 17 points for the Raptors, who started the year 2-4 before reaching their third Sweet 16 in four years. Tanner Call had 16.
The Mavs will host No. 25 Lincoln Saturday for a chance to punch their ticket to the Final Four at the Denver Coliseum.