Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — The race for the 5A/4A Northern League in boys basketball has only now officially begun.
A Friday night party inside a packed home gymnasium, 4A No. 3 ranked Mead got out to a big lead and held tight over a stressful final few minutes, beating the last remaining undefeated team in its league, No. 8 Windsor, 59-51.
Up by as many as 18 in the second half, Mead’s lead was chopped down to five on Parker Seyboldt’s free throws with 2:55 remaining. But the classification’s defending champs answered with consecutive stops and Nick Basson and Dominic McLawrence each scored inside the paint to push the lead back to 10.
Four free throws over the final 32 seconds then sealed Mead’s fourth straight home win.
“We started off great. The energy was great, we shared the basketball and pushed the basketball like we wanted to, and we got a lot of open looks,” Mead coach Darin Reese said. “I wish we could have withstood that throughout the second quarter. But from start to finish, our defensive intensity and attention to detail was really, really good.”
Even with the late theatrics, it was a solid response for the Mavericks (12-4, 6-1), who dropped their first game in league Wednesday, falling 53-48 at Longmont.
On this night, Elijah Knudsen connected on back-to-back 3s to start the second quarter and finished with 15 points. Will Tenore hit all five of his shots to add 10 points. Nathan Hoffman, James Shiers and Basson also had 10.
Windsor, which came into the night unblemished in league following wins over the Trojans and Holy Family over the past seven days, was led by David Hageman’s 21.
Early on, Mead held the Wizards without a field goal for a stretch of 7:46 in the opening half, pushing the lead to as many as 17. After the break, it then forced another lengthy scoreless drought of 4:27 as the advantage swelled to 36-18 on a nifty feed from Basson to a mid-air Shiers.
Windsor closed the deficit to 12 by the end of the quarter and got within six by the 5:08 mark of the fourth. But it wasn’t enough down the stretch.
“This is a big deal for us, considering last year when we lost a game, we went on a three-game losing streak,” Knudsen said. “The fact that we were able to bounce back (from the Longmont loss) and play fully as a team is great.”
As the league standings go, Mead’s win has created an intriguing mess with three weeks remaining in the regular season. As of Friday night, Mead, Windsor and Holy Family each had one loss in league. Longmont had two, while Silver Creek and Centaurus had three.
“It’s definitely a cliché that every night is a fight, but in this league, this is the best league in 4A without question,” Reese said. “We have five, six top-10 teams, so very literally every night is tough.”
Rally comes up short for MHS girls
Windsor’s girls, CHSAA’s top-ranked 4A program, kept its undefeated season alive in a 58-46 win over the fourth-ranked Mavericks.
Mead (14-2, 6-1), trailing 52-32 with 4:30 remaining, rallied to clip the deficit to 10 in the final minute.
Maddox Boston swished a 3 and scored five straight to close within 54-43 with 1:37 to go. A free throw from Darby Haley then made it 56-46 in the final 30 seconds before Windsor answered with a pair of free throws and a stop to seal the win.
The Wizards (15-0, 5-0) have won every game this winter by double-digits.
“I think my kids showed a lot of heart,” Mead coach JR Sagner said. “They worked hard. We preach energy and effort to them and control the things you can control. … I feel like we adjusted as the game went on. Credit to Windsor, they punched us in the mouth early. Our kids adjusted and stayed composed throughout the game and found a way to fight back.”
Boston, who came in as the leading scorer in the league with 15.5 points per game, finished right at that mark with 15. Kyra Haan added 10 points and Haley had five of her eight in the fourth.
Olivia Reed led the Wizards with a game-high 18, scoring eight straight for her team in the third quarter to push the lead out to as many as 21. Alexis Backhaus added 14.
Despite the 12-point loss, Mead’s resumé remains stout. Ranked second in the 4A RPI standings, the Mavs’ only other loss this season came to 3A No. 1 Platte Valley on Dec. 16.
Mead’s boys and girls programs will travel to Skyline Tuesday.