MONUMENT — Missing their starting sophomore point guard and having fallen behind by a 13-2 score on Tuesday night at Lewis-Palmer, there were so many reasons why the Mead boys basketball team could have found pity for themselves and rode a bus home shaking off a Class 4A quarterfinal playoff loss.
Instead, the Mavericks flipped a switch. And, because of an inspired, uber-emotional performance that resulted in a 61-50 road win combined with a loss by top-seed Windsor to No. 9 seed Pueblo South, the Mead gym once again will see a basketball game on its court on Thursday night.
Having dealt with a scary medical situation this past Friday that left sophomore Nick Basson in the hospital, the No. 5 seed Mavericks were facing an uphill battle with their minds certainly on their teammate. Basson’s No. 1 was printed on pregame warmup shirts which the entire team sported prior to tip-off against the Rangers, sending a powerful message of who the Mavericks were playing for.
After a rusty opening few minutes in which LP took a 13-2 lead, the Mavericks settled in and started to feel for their own game plan again. Mead cut that deficit to 19-16 by the end of the first and worked ahead of the Rangers 26-25 by the 1:15 mark of the second quarter.
While Elijah Knudsen (19 points) and James Shiers (20) were the buoys of the MHS offense, over the next sequence as Mead opened a 40-31 lead is was Marcus Santiago who pitched in some clutch points. He beat the buzzer at half with a put-back to make it 30-25, and it was his 3-pointer at the 3:37 mark of the third to give Mead that nine-point lead.
Lewis-Palmer meticulously cut back into the Mead advantage, and with 6:35 left in regulation it was tied at 44. But the visiting Mavericks literally dominated that final stretch of time, offensively and defensively, to earn another game.
Nate Hoffman made it 46-44 with a layup, and then the junior got a steal and layup on the next possession to make it 48-44 with 6:09 to go. A Knudsen bucket made it 50-44, and then with 3:47 left the star shooting guard got an offensive rebound and popped another 3-pointer to make it 53-44.
That lead was never threatened.
“With all these guys have been recently, and missing Nick out on the floor, and starting out (a 13-2 score) … and just not quitting and sticking with what we wanted to do, it’s just a tough, tough group of kids that are so together,” said head coach Darin Reese. “It showed tonight. They trusted each other and trusted themselves.
“Once that initial run happened, we guarded a lot more like we’re accustomed to, and we just played really intelligent down the stretch. Got stops, got down the court and kept the ball in our ball-handlers’ hands … just a real solid way to finish a game.”
Green Mountain 58, Erie 50
LAKEWOOD — Host Green Mountain pushed past Erie late in their game Tuesday at Green Mountain High, though the Tigers put every ounce of energy into the final minutes after storming back from a nine-point deficit midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 44 with 3:51 left in the game.
The Rams continued their unbeaten season (17-0) by making the right plays down the stretch and outscoring EHS 7-2 over the final two minutes of the game.
Erie, which finished the season at 13-4, was led by Grace Moyers’ 15 points. Genevieve Gundino and Deb Altschuler each added 11 points, and Anna Hefner scored seven.