Unselfishness powers Class 4A No. 1 Mead boys basketball

Mead boys basketball

(@MeadAthletics/Twitter)

When asked, Mead boys basketball coach Darin Reese doesn't need to think to recall his team's leading scorer this year.

It's Trey Ward at 15.2 points per game.

It's curious, because the number itself isn't overly flashy. It doesn't scream that Ward is a dominant player for Class 4A's top-ranked hoops squad.

But Reese knows it. And right after that, he'll start rattling off names of other kids and how they stand out on the team.

"Will Maher, JP Shiers and Elijah Knudson are all big-time contributors as well," Reese says. "They added some real depth."

That's what he loves about his roster. This team acts like a team. Not to say that no other team in the state does, but as the Mavericks (19-1 overall, 13-0 Tri-Valley) continue to win game after game, it's very apparent that the team-first approach that that they've taken is generating the desired results.

"We go nine deep and there's not a lot of drop-off," Reese said. "Our seniors have experienced high-level games and some great atmospheres and the added depth we've gained this year has become a big separator for us."

Mead opened the season at the Paul Davis Classic at Green Mountain and dropped its season opener 94-91 to Palmer in overtime. Since then they haven't lost. And they've played at a level that forced voters to make them the No. 1 team in the state a couple weeks ago, taking the top spot away from then-undefeated Cheyenne Mountain. Cheyenne Mountain has since lost its first game of the year, validating the Mavericks' spot as the top team in the classification.

A big catalyst behind their rise is the play of the veterans like Ward. Maher is second on the team with 13.7 points per game and Nick Jacobs is also scoring in double figures.

"Our senior guards either started as sophomores or saw big minutes," Reese said. "Last year they all started and again this year. That's our number one this is our senior leadership."

Reese is able to blend some youth in with his veterans and each game, it's hard not to notice Shiers, who towers everyone at 6-foot-11. He pulls down nearly seven rebounds a game and is good for at least one blocked shot.

As the regular season heads into its final week, Reese and his boys are all excited about what the postseason will bring. Perhaps one of the most underrated factors in this team is that it made a bit of a run last year, falling to Holy Family in the 4A Great 8.

"The playoff game at Holy Family, that atmosphere was as good as it gets," Reese said. "Having been there and been through that gives me and gives them a lot of confidence moving forward."

The Mavericks got a taste of vengeance on Jan. 23 by beating the Tigers at home. They'll meet again in the regular season finale on Feb. 21.

Mead swept the regular season series last year before falling to Holy Family on the road in the playoffs. This year's team is different and will the unselfishness that it employs, it is emerging as one of the favorite to claim a state title.

But in order to get it done, Reese knows that his team has to rely on something they bring to the court on a regular basis that can't be seen on a MaxPreps statsheet.

"You can see our balance," Reese said. "But that really does make us who we are is the unselfish way we play. On any given night we can have up to four, five or six guys score 20 points. It's that type of team."

The type of team that fans get excited to see in a playoff atmosphere. And the wait for that experience is almost over.