Tim Hurst/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — Jackson Ward turned to the Holy Family bench and screamed in elation following a deep swish out of the halftime break.
A moment that would likely fade into game noise pre-coronavirus, instead, could be felt in every corner of the sparsely-filled gymnasium at Mead Friday.
“Well, one, I couldn’t believe I was making my 3s … finally,” Ward cracked. “And two, we’re actually coming together as a team.”
Ward finished with a game-high 22 points — including a trio of 3s after coming in just 1-for-6 from deep — and the Tigers grabbed yet another head-turning win, beating the Mavericks 67-58.
Coming into the week, Mead ranked third in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A coaches poll, while Holy Family broke in at 15.
Last week, the Tigers shook up the classification with wins over No. 2 Longmont and No. 8 Erie. They were edged by No. 1 Windsor.
“Our guys are starting to believe more and more,” Holy Family coach Pete Villecco said. “Shoot man, we had a five-game stretch of at Longmont, Erie — we went toe-to-toe with Windsor, we played a good Silver Creek team on the road, and then these guys. You come out of that 3-2, it’s a confidence booster.”
Following a loss at Silver Creek Wednesday, Holy Family (6-5, 5-3 5A/4A NCAC) was in control most of the night, leading by as many as 20 in the second half before fending off a late rally for its third top-10 win in 11 days.
Mead (6-3, 4-3) made things interesting in the final 85 seconds with two quick 3s from Elijah Knudsen, and another from Nick Basson, cutting a 14-point deficit to 63-58 with 8.2 seconds remaining.
Ward then sealed it with four consecutive free throws in the final seconds.
“I think we have just come together as a team and started making our shots,” Ward said. “That win over Longmont gave us a lot of confidence going into these next four games.”
Eric Quintana added 14 points in the win, freshman Gabe Tafoya 11, and Rocco Bridges hit three times from deep and had nine. The Tigers made a season-high 10 3s.
Knudsen led Mead with 21 points, while Basson had 15 and Marcus Santiago 11. The Mavericks lost for the third straight time after winning their previous 31 games dating back to 2019.
Mead looked strong early, opening the game on a 10-2 spurt that included a step-back 3 from Knudsen. But the Tigers responded with a strong finish to the quarter, including consecutive long flies by Ward, who scored his team’s first eight points.
Ward finished with 10 in the first half as Holy Family used an 11-0 run to start the second quarter to push the lead to 29-19. Quintana and Tafoya each added nine in the half to push it to 38-27 at the break.
Mead will host Summit in a non-league bout Monday. Holy Family is at home against Greeley West Tuesday.