Tim Hurst/Staff Photographer
COLORADO SPRINGS — Business finished.
After its season getting canceled in the Final Four left the Mead boys basketball team with their championship ambitions incomplete for a year, the Mavericks finished the job on Sunday night at the Broadmoor World Arena. In the Class 4A title game, the Mavericks won 68-44 over Montrose to claim their first boys basketball state championship since 1957 — when they beat Wiggins in the title game — and the first team title in any sport since the new school opened.
A long time coming and intensely validating in myriad ways, the Mavericks can finally celebrate the state title they’ve been planning for years.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had, I think,” Mavericks junior guard Elijah Knudsen said. “I think that goes for the rest of the guys too. We just had so much that we’re doing it for. It hurt bad not getting the chance to win it last season and there were a lot of sleepless nights just waiting for high school season to come around again so we could get another chance.
“We were determined to take it this time. And we did.”
The fifth-seeded Mavericks (15-3) came flying out of the gate and led by 21-4 in the first quarter, paced by Knudsen (19.2 ppg) scoring 17 of his game-high 30 points in the first half. But with 6-foot-9 Mavericks center James Shiers (11.4 ppg) in early foul trouble, No. 3 Montrose (18-1) cut the lead to three points in the second quarter and Mead led just 27-23 at halftime.
Mead pushed its lead back up to 10 points at the end of the third and outscored the Indians, who allowed opponents to score an average of just 38.7 points prior to Sunday, 23-9 in the fourth to close out the victory. Senior guard Marcus Santiago scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help Mead pull away.
“It was a total team effort and if we don’t all show up, we don’t win the game,” Knudsen said. “We were playing for our sophomore, Nick Basson, who we lost but it was nice that he was able to be here on the bench. We did it for our coach. We did it for our school. And it was a good feeling to win one for all those five seniors we had on the team last year.”
Still playing without Basson (10.8 ppg) since he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke last Friday, the Mavericks couldn’t have picked a better night to play possibly their best all-around game of the season.
Mead senior Will Tenore led the Mavericks, who shot 49.1% from the field, with eight rebounds. The Mavericks also went 8-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc and held the Indians well under their 56.3-point scoring average.
“This is our first team title as a new school and I still can’t help but think this should have happened last year, and I think a lot of people would agree,” Mead head coach Darin Reese said. “We just loved that group of seniors we had last year and this is as much theirs as it is everybody else’s. Everybody went through adversity this past year and this 2021 group is pretty special. There’s a ton of satisfaction knowing just how great the Mead community is and that they know this is theirs.”
Ashden Oberg led Montrose, which has not won a state championship in 70 years, with 13 points and Luke Hutto had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.