BROOMFIELD — When it mattered most, the Holy Family boys responded.
After two heartbreaking losses during the regular season to the Mead Mavericks in Tri-Valley League play, Holy Family got its revenge on Saturday afternoon. In front of a standing room only crowd, the No. 4 Tigers got off to a quick start and never trailed en route to a 63-54 win over the No. 5 Mavericks in the Elite 8 round of the Class 4A tournament.
“The biggest thing for us was the start,” said senior Tanner Baird, who finished with 25 points. “Both games in the regular season, they jumped on us and we made it a priority to come out with energy.
“The worst thing that could have happened is that we are over-amped and just missing easy shots.”
But that didn’t happen.
Garrett Green connected on his first three-point attempt and it spurred a 10-2 run to open the game that had the big crowd buzzing from the get-go.
The Mead modus operandi all season has been their ability to hit the three-point shot and on Saturday it just never materialized, which made it all the more difficult to mount any sort of sustained rally against a Tigers defense that was swarming to the perimeter.
“Our kids, they played so hard and they were locked into our game plan of running them of the three line,” said coach Pete Villecco, whose team improved to 22-4 this season. “The last game, they hit us with a barrage of three’s, they were 12-of-23, and we did not want that to happen again.
“We were going to live with contested two’s and we were not going to let them beat us from the three line.”
Green, Dominic Nellis, Kyle Helbig, Baird, Zach Becker (in extended minutes due to foul trouble) and Jonathan Pfenning all kept the pressure on the Mavericks shooters and through three quarters, did not allow one three-pointer. It wasn’t until three minutes into the fourth quarter that Mead finally connected from long range and in total they were 2-for-23 (8.7 percent).
With the crowd at a fever pitch, which fed both sides as the momentum shifted back and fourth, Holy Family continued to make plays on the defensive end and just enough on the offensive side to keep the margin at two possessions all the way into the fourth quarter.
And the Tigers held on down the stretch despite massive foul trouble. Adam Jolly (2 points) fouled out with 4:27 to play and Green followed shortly after with 3:10 to go. Nellis would also foul out in the fourth and the reserves came in and did what they needed to do to keep the Mavericks at bay. Pfenning, who misses a majority of the season due to injury, played substantial minutes, and had a key breakaway lay-up in the final minutes that put the Tigers up 10.
“Garrett Green was phenomenal guarding Caleb Ayers and not letting him get hot, because that has hurt us the past couple of games, Zach Becker too,” Baird said. “When Dom fouled out, I looked up and was like gosh, we’ve got three starters out. It wasn’t ideal, but Jonathan Pfenning came up huge and for him to have a great game like that was just energy giving.”
Helbig finished with 19 points, including a monster dunk in the fourth quarter. Baird’s 25 points, which included another perfect night from the line (with his 10-for-10 performance on Saturday, he is now 25-for-25 from the line in the three playoff games) led all scorers.
Trey Ward and Jax Wilke each had 12 points for the Mavericks and Will Maher has 11.
Holy Family will play either No. 1 Lewis-Palmer of No. 9 Centaurus on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum. The Tigers will have both boys and girls at the Coliseum on Thursday and Friday night. The girls will play Mullen on Thursday at 4 p.m.
(4) HOLY FAMILY 63, (5) MEAD 54
Mead (22-4) 8 17 7 22 — 54
Holy Family (22-4) 18 13 8 24 — 63
Mead — Nick Jacobs 3 1-2 7, Will Maher 3 4-6 11, David Wilhelm 2 0-0 4, Trey Ward 5 2-2 12, Caleb Ayers 1 1-3 4, Jax Wilke 4 4-4 12, Jacob Batholomew 1 0-0 2, KJ Jacobs 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 12-17 54.
Holy Family — Dom Nellis 1 0-2 3, Kyle Helbig 5 7-13 19, Zach Becker 1 2-2 5, Tanner Baird 7 10-10 25, Jonathan Pfenning 1 1-2 3, Eddie Bartoletti 0 0-0 0, Garrett Green 2 0-0 6, Adam Jolly 0 2-2 2. Totals 17 22-31 63.
3-pt. goals — Mead (2): Maher, Ayers; Holy Family (7): Helbig 2, Green 2, Nellis, Becker, Baird. Fouls — Mead 20, Holy Family 21. Fouled out — Nellis, Green, Jolly. Technicals — Maher.