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Boys basketball: Mead falters late; loses in 5A quarters to No. 1 Northfield

Mar. 1—DENVER — Mead couldn't have asked for a much better setup in trying to pull off the first big upset in the Class 5A boys' hoops playoffs.

Twenty or so minutes later, as Northfield and its star players answered postgame questions about its resiliency following the No. 1 Nighthawks' 61-52 comeback victory in Friday's quarterfinals, the eighth-ranked Mavericks were stuck wondering why the bright lights at the Denver Coliseum seemed to go out prematurely on them.

It was Mead's third straight exit inside Colorado's Great Eight since winning their first basketball title in 64 years in 2021.

This hurts more with context.

Up 49-40 after three quarters, the Mavericks (19-7), who were playing great, were outscored 21-3 in the fourth.

"Just turnovers and lack of defensive awareness. Lots of mess ups," Mead senior Dominic McLawrence said of the finish. "But we stayed as a team, we fought strongly and all the way through."

Here's how it happened: Da'Quan Slayton opened the final frame with five points in about 30 seconds for the Nighthawks (24-2), cutting the lead to four.

At that point, junior guard Matthew Angelo — part of that McLawrence-Angelo tandem the Mavs relied heavily on all season — said he could start to feel the momentum swing.

"I think we kind of shut down after that," Angelo said. "Credit to Northfield. Great team, great players. But credit to us as well. We did a great job going up nine into the fourth quarter. We made some mistakes but that's basketball."

McLawrence finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, making Mead's only bucket in the fourth. Angelo added a game-high 16 points, scoring the Mavs' final point when he went 1 of 2 from the line with 6:01 remaining.

Slayton then put the Nighthawks up for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, hitting a free throw with 4 minutes remaining to make it 53-52. Northfield ended up scoring the game's final 14 points for its 18th straight victory.

The Nighthawks face the winner of defending champ No. 4 Mesa Ridge and No. 12 Dakota Ridge, which played later Friday.

The Mavericks finished the season at least 10 games over .500 for a sixth straight year. McLawrence, one of five seniors graduating, told those expected to return for Mead to "just keep grinding."

"They have a chance to be great," McLawrence said. "I saw them coming up over the summer and working their butts off. They are just progressing and getting better."