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Boys basketball: Mead advances with steady performance against Riverdale Ridge

Mavericks will host local rival Frederick in Class 4A Great 8 Saturday

  • Mead High School's Dominic McLawrence (No. ...

    Mead High School's Dominic McLawrence (No. 5) tries to box out Riverdale Ridge High School's Jathan Alston (No. 13) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's James Shiers (No. ...

    Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) dunks the ball against Riverdale Ridge High School in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. ...

    Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. 1) tries to shoot over Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. ...

    Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. 1) puts up a shot past Riverdale Ridge High School's Jathan Alston (No. 13) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Elijah Knudsen (No. ...

    Mead High School's Elijah Knudsen (No. 2) looks to pass while pressured by Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. ...

    Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. 1) celebrates in the Class 4A Sweet 16 game against Riverdale Ridge High School on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

  • Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. ...

    Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. 1) puts up a shot over Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Dominic McLawrence (No. ...

    Mead High School's Dominic McLawrence (No. 5), Nathan Hoffman (No. 3) and Matt Murphy (No. 23) put pressure on Riverdale Ridge High School's Ryan Leopold (No. 24) to pass in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's James Shiers (No. ...

    Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) dunks over Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) puts up a...

    Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) puts up a shot over Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's James Shiers (No. ...

    Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) looks to shoot between Riverdale Ridge High School's Anthony Chavez (No. 3) and Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's James Shiers (No. ...

    Mead High School's James Shiers (No. 15) is fouled by Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Elijah Knudsen (No. ...

    Mead High School's Elijah Knudsen (No. 2) shoots a three pointer against Riverdale Ridge High School in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Matt Murphy (No. ...

    Mead High School's Matt Murphy (No. 23) collides with Riverdale Ridge High School's Brady Greene (No. 23) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. ...

    Mead High School's Nick Basson (No. 1) shoots a three point shot against Riverdale Ridge High School in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Mead High School's Nathan Hoffman (No. ...

    Mead High School's Nathan Hoffman (No. 3) drives around Riverdale Ridge High School's Marcus Hihn (No. 15) in a Class 4A Sweet 16 game on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

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LONGMONT — On a crowded court following the final buzzer Wednesday, Mead senior James Shiers signed hats and t-shirts for some young fans as the Mavericks’ raucous fanbase cheered around him and his teammates.

Earlier in the evening, Shiers hobbled off the court after taking a hard fall. But he returned for the final minutes and calmly drained a pair of free throws with just seconds on the clock to ice the Mavericks’ win.

No. 3 seed Mead held off upset-minded No. 14 Riverdale Ridge for a 61-50 victory and the defending Class 4A state champions punched their ticket to the another Great 8 behind a game-high 20 points from Shiers and 17 from junior Nick Basson.

“It’s a great win, man,” Shiers said. “I didn’t want to lose out. I didn’t want to lose my last high school game. It felt good to come out here and we’ve still got three more so we’ve got to come out and play.”

After a second quarter that saw the Mavericks (21-4) outscore the Ravens 15-6 and take a 31-24 advantage at halftime, Mead scored the first six points of the third quarter to take its largest lead of the game at 37-24.

A 9-0 run to end the second period turned the tide of the game in Mead’s favor after the teams traded the lead during close back-and-forth late first and early second quarters.

“Defensively, our pressure kind of turned things around a little bit,” Mead head coach Darin Reese said. “When we’re locked in defensively and speeding them up, that generally will get our offense flowing and I think it did in the second quarter and even a little to start the third quarter.”

Trailing by 13, Riverdale Ridge didn’t go quietly. The Ravens answered with a 10-0 run, all 10 points being scored by junior Ryan Leopold, to cut the Mead advantage to 37-34.

Despite the Ravens cutting their lead to three points twice early in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks had an answer every time.

As the fourth quarter hit its midway point, Basson completed a three-point play to put Mead ahead 55-47 and the Mavericks never led by fewer than five points the remainder of the game.

“It was keeping our composure, sticking to what we needed to do,” Basson said. “Staying playing at our pace. They are going to hit some shots. We’ve just got to stay composed and come back and hit our shots.”

When the Ravens cut the Mavericks’ advantage to 43-40, Shiers stopped their momentum with one of several dunks he had on the night. When Riverdale Ridge got back within four at 50-46, Corby Tecu hit a big shot to halt a 4-0 run.

Mead scored the final six points of the game, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line by Basson and Shiers when the Ravens were trying to make one last gasp at an upset.

“They were really tough, really aggressive offensively,” Reese said. “They didn’t hit shots like they did in their last game because we took that away. But then their dribble-drive hurt us a little bit. That’s the state playoffs. Packed gym, everybody’s at their best and we had to find a way. I am proud of our guys for doing it.”

Riverdale Ridge ended its season at 18-7. The Mavericks will host Frederick on Saturday looking for their third straight Final Four appearance.