BROOMFIELD — On paper, Friday night’s Top 10 Class 4A girls showdown between No. 4 Air Academy and No. 10 Holy Family leaned heavy in the visiting Kadets favor.
They came in winners of five of their first six and were facing a 1-3 Tigers team that was coming off a grueling week of finals before the mandatory Christmas break.
Good thing for the Tigers, the game wasn’t played on paper, but rather their shiny brand new floor.
Holy Family, facing their first 4A opponent of the season, frustrated the Kadets from the opening whistle and rolled to a 42-25 victory on the eve of traveling to Pueblo West for a big game against the No. 2 Cyclones.
“We talked about how we had to own our court, because it was the first time playing on it,” said Tigers coach Ron Rossi, whose battled tested team has already faced 5A juggernauts Regis Jesuit, Arapahoe and Fossil Ridge. “I was just pleased with the effort and we got a huge lift from Daniella (Hren).
“Her sister (Isabelle, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis) came to the game and it pumped her up.”
The younger Hren was huge in the second half off the bench and broke open what always felt like a tight game. She hit four second half three-pointers and had five for the game en route to a game high 15 points.
The name of the game for the Tigers on this night was defense. Holy Family confused, confounded and down right frustrated the Kadets, who had no answers for either the pressure or the 2-3 zone that Rossi employed most of the night.
“They had real trouble getting the shots they wanted. Part of it was they didn’t have a great shooter, but we got into their space too and made it difficult,” Rossi said. “Cece (Aanerud) didn’t have a real good game (offensively) but she did other good things.”
Rossi pointed to his point guard, junior Dylan Sanders, as the unselfish star of Friday night.
“She’s just steady,” he said. “What I really like about Dylan, is that she had the open looks — and she hit a couple of three’s — but she distributed the ball well and only had one turnover. It was just great leadership on the court.”
The Tigers were balanced on the offensive end, getting eight points from Sanders and Alyssa Wells as well as seven from Tyler Whitlock.
It was a big win for the Tigers, who quickly went into film session after the game for their quick turn around against Pueblo West tomorrow afternoon, but one they are going to have to quickly turn the page on.
“It was a good win for us in that we wanted to tell the rest of the state that 1-3 isn’t really 1-3, we’ve played good teams and when you play good teams, your weaknesses show,” Rossi said. “This was the first 4A team we played and we wanted to show we can play with the 4A teams.
“It gets harder tomorrow.”
(10) HOLY FAMILY 42, (4) AIR ACADEMY 25
At Holy Family
Air Academy (5-2) 5 7 5 8 — 25
Holy Family (2-3) 6 15 8 13 — 42
Air Academy — Allie Hotz 0 0-0 0, Capri Dewing 1 0-2 2, Annie Louthan 0 0-0 0, Kylee Blacksten 4 2-3 12, Brianna Sealy 3 5-11 11, Brooke Moss 0 0-0 0, Jessie Sims 0 0-0 0, Heidi Self 0 0-0 0, Quyhn Tran 0 0-1 0. Totals 8 7-17 25.
Holy Family — Tyler Whitlock 3 0-0 7, Dylan Sanders 3 0-0 8, Noelle Gardon 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Wells 3 2-2 8, Cecelia Aanerud 0 0-2 0, Daniella Hren 5 0-0 15, Makenna Bertsch 1 0-0 2, Jaelen Giron 0 0-0 0, Mariah Quintana 0 0-0 0, Makayla Salter 0 0-0 0, Abby Coufal 0 0-0 0, Maggie Dooley 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 2-4 42.
3-pt. goals — Air Academy (2): Blacksten 2; Holy Family (8): Hren 5, Sander 2, Whitlock. Total fouls — Air Academy 10; Holy Family 15.