BROOMFIELD — For the first time since 2016, the Holy Family Tigers will be in the Class 4A Final 4.
There were moments during Friday night’s Great 8 affair with 24-1 Greeley Central where doubt began to creep in, but with the proper halftime adjustments and a twist of the defensive pressure dial, Coach Ron Rossi’s team was able to create some distance between themselves and the Wildcats.
When the dust settled on a raucous Holy Family gym, the Tigers advanced 52-42 over Greeley Central to set up and all Catholic school Final 4 match up with Mullen on Thursday at the Denver Coliseum.
“I just told them that the third quarter has been ours all season, so all we have to do is step it up and we will find a way,” said Rossi, whose team improved to 21-5 overall. “And we knew we were going to win this defensively and not offensively and we did.
“We hit a couple of shots and we go the running game going and I think that was the difference.”
The big momentum shift came in the third quarter. Clinging to a 15-13 halftime lead, the Tigers opened on a 15-0 run that saw the lead grow to 17 points. Amanda Ward, who couldn’t find her range in the first half, hit two big three pointer’s during the run. Tyler Whitlock scored seven points in the run as well.
“Our depth paid off. Alyssa (Wells) came off the bench and hit three three’s and was a big influence on the game,” said Rossi of his teams depth. “Noelle (Gardon) stepped up and Erin (Winters) when we got in foul trouble. Even Dylan (Sanders) came in, because K(aitlyn McKenzie) was sick and I thought that was a big factor.
“I knew they were going to make another run at us, I’m just glad we had a big third quarter.”
Greeley Central (24-2), winners of the Northern League, continued to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. With nothing to lose, the Wildcats started bombing away from downtown and the shots started to drop — four times in fact in the final quarter — that allowed them to stay within shouting distance.
But for every mini-run the Wildcats would go on, the Tigers would have and answer. The biggest of which was Wells, who drilled back-to-back three’s from the same spot on the floor to turn a 35-24 game to a 41-24 game in an instant.
“The first time I touched the ball, I fumbled it and I was like, ‘Oh man, this is a different stage’,” said Wells, a sophomore, who finished with 11 points. “But I looked at the junior and the seniors and I knew us sophomores could hold our ground.
“Everybody was supporting us and this was our home floor, so all we had to do was play the game.”
It’s been stated before, and it will likely be stated again, but the sophomores were again brilliant. And the combination of Gudino, Sanders, Wells, Whitlock and Aanerud combined for 38 of the 52.
Second-seeded Holy Family will draw No. 14 Mullen on Thursday at the Coliseum. Mullen, 62-28 winners in Montrose, hosted the Tigers in a Foundation Game (otherwise known as a glorified scrimmage) in January.
“It’s a big stage, but I think we are ready,” Wells said.
(2) HOLY FAMILY 52, (7) GREELEY CENTRAL 42
Greeley Central (24-2) 4 9 6 23 — 42
Holy Family (21-5) 13 2 18 19 — 52
Greeley Central — Crystal Vasquez 0 0-0 0, Thailia Cerda 0 0-0 0, Micaela Hidalgo 6 4-5 19, Kim Arredondo 0 0-2 0, Hattie Sheets 4 2-2 11, Naomi Hidalgo 3 4-5 10, Aubree Raimer 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 10-14 42.
Holy Family — Kaitlyn McKenzie 1 1-3 3, Genevieve Gudino 4 3-4 13, Dylan Sanders 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Wells 4 0-0 11, Noelle Gardon 1 0-1 2, Tyler Whitlock 5 1-3 12, Amanda Ward 2 3-4 9, Erin Winters 0 0-0 0, Cecelia Aanerud 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 8-15 52.
3-pt. goals — Greeley Central (4): M. Hidalgo 3, Sheets; Holy Family (8): Wells 3, Gudino 2, Ward 2, Whitlock. Total fouls — Greeley Central 17, Holy Family 14. Fouled out — N. Hidalgo.