MEAD — It’s hard to beat a team when one of its players is defending the rim like his life depends on it. It’s even more difficult when the same team possesses someone who can stuff the ball in the net on every breakaway he gets.
But Mead boys basketball is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A for a reason.
Throughout the Mavericks’ Friday night, 57-46 home victory against crosstown rival Longmont, junior small forward Dominic McLawrence served as a human blockade near the cylinder as his teammate, senior guard Tucker Mills, displayed his versatility from every spot on the floor.
Mills finished the game with 27 points and McLawrence added another 16, as well as at least five blocks. Longmont junior point guard Cole Corner took control for the Trojans as he netted 12 points. Senior Bau Brush and senior shooting guard Kaden Rose added another eight apiece.
“I block every now and then but this night, something just clicked,” McLawrence said. “Longmont played a very tough game, but I think our defense was just there. Playing your rivals, it just boosts your intensity and you just want to play a lot harder and a lot more.”
Longmont, of course, showed great maturity and wisdom for a nearly brand-new varsity squad, especially through a second-half defensive stand and offensive run. The Trojans should have plenty of success ahead of them once they solidify their footing in league play.
“I feel like we were more composed than we normally are but we need to work a lot harder on just doing the little things right with gaps, defense,” Corner said. “A lot of it is defense, and we need to learn how to play our style of basketball — slowing down, beating them possession-by-possession to win the games.”
The teams began their night playing fairly evenly, but Mead held a slight edge through the end of the first quarter. Mills threw in his first jam toward the end of the first frame and wasted no time contributing his next one in the second quarter, this time with a reverse.
The Mavericks led 29-20 at the half before ballooning that advantage to 43-25 with three minutes left in the third quarter. That’s when the Trojans came alive.
Over the course of the next four minutes, Longmont locked down its defense to shut out the Mavericks while simultaneously putting up 11 unanswered points from a host of Trojans. They managed to close the gap to seven before the Mavericks put them away for good.
With the win, the Mavericks improved to 9-1 and 1-0 in the Northern Colorado Athletic Conference as the Trojans dropped to 6-4 and 0-1 in the NCAC. Now, Mead will look to keep the fire going when it travels to Greeley West on Wednesday as Longmont returns home to take on Windsor on the same night.
“I think that everyone showed a lot of perseverance,” Corner said. “I think that everyone, as a whole, was mentally tougher than we normally are. It took a lot for us to play as good as we did because we haven’t faced any really tough teams yet. This is the first big game that we’ve had. I think we showed up. We just didn’t get the job done.”
Mead girls stay white-hot against the Trojans
There’s a reason opponents fear Class 5A’s second-ranked Mead girls basketball. The Mavericks have shown little mercy through their first 10 games, and that theme held true on Friday night on their home court.
The Mavericks needed just a little over four minutes to build up a 10-point lead, an advantage that only continued to grow until they topped out with the 57-39 final. The ladies shared the ball well and created headaches for Longmont all night, but the Trojans showed a bit of grit of their own with a few defensive stands.
Mead sophomore guard Brooklynn Charlo lit up from all over for 18 points as senior point guard Charlotte Brennan and sophomore guard Darby Haley added another nine and eight points, respectively. On the other side of the court, Longmont junior power forward Savannah Pohl and sophomore point guard Kaila Patterson netted 10 points apiece, followed by junior small forward Ella Pears’ nine.
“I think it’s our defensive ability, because we work every day in practice. Defense is our main emphasis and I think that really showed today. (With) our press, everybody was on a string moving all together,” Charlo said. “I think that (this win) just keeps our motor going.”
The Mavericks improved to 9-1 (1-0 NCAC) with the win and the Trojans fell to 5-4 (0-1), but Longmont has shown plenty of growth a year after finishing with a 6-18 record. Pohl attributed the rise to better team chemistry and a bit more maturity at the varsity level, and hopes her Trojans can learn from the loss to bounce back through the rest of league play.
“We worked so hard this week trying to get in shape from break because you know, it’s hard coming after eating all that food, but I really liked the positive energy that came from the bench and high-fives that were given on the court, just picking each other up,” Pohl said. “That’s what you need to do when you’re down and the positive energy helps win games. We didn’t win this one but we’ll get the next one.”
Longmont will head back home to face off with Windsor on Wednesday night as Mead heads to Greeley West on the same night.