BROOMFIELD — Neither the Holy Family nor the Evergreen girls basketball teams looked like the Nos. 2- and 4-ranked programs in the state on Thursday night.
Both teams certainly earned their right to be ranked in the preseason CHSAANow.com poll based on last year's finish, but for the Tigers a 35-31 home loss to the Cougars exposed some early rust that head coach Ron Rossi hopes the team can shake off soon.
In fact, in all his years coaching, he said he had never had a game in which no one player finished in double figures in points. That's how much of an oddity Thursday's game was for HFHS.
"It's hard to believe because we're a balanced team. But to be honest there wasn't one category that we did better in than (Evergreen) tonight," Rossi said after his team dropped to 2-2, their other loss coming to Mullen in the season opener. "The good thing is, we can come back together on Tuesday and play harder and better."
The Tigers, with four returning starters from last year, have a familiar make-up: a team that is going to try and hassle opponents defensively and force them into mistakes, and hopefully convert easy transition plays at the other end.
Thursday, they got the first part of that equation going but not the second. Holy Family forced eight Evergreen turnovers in the first quarter, but held just a 12-6 lead after all was said and done.
Even in forcing 13 total first-half turnovers, Holy Family trailed 20-17 at the half because they only made 6 of 19 shots. Evergreen was just slightly better shooting 8-for-20, but a couple of 3-point makes helped the visitors climb back in it and they never trailed again after taking an 18-16 lead with 2 minutes, 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
"The game could have been a lot different if we converted early on those turnovers," Rossi said. "It should have been 20-6 when it was 12-6."
In the second half, rebounding played a key role in the Tigers not being able to rally. Evergreen held a 22-8 advantage on the glass during the final 16 minutes of play.
But for as little scoring as there was, the game still was close in the final minutes. With 4:20 to go in the fourth, a Casey Griggs 3-pointer made it 29-26 but Evergreen answered with Baylee Galan Browne's trey to push it back to 32-26.
Isabelle Hren scored a putback at the 3:05 mark to make 32-28, but the Cougars would not falter down the stretch in keeping that lead.
Hren and Leah Schwartz had six points apiece for Holy Family, while Griggs and BreAnna Torres each had five. Schwartz added four rebounds and two assists.
"I think we were just missing a lot of those extra hustle efforts ... diving for the ball and getting those kind of plays. We need to be better on defense on our part," Schwartz said. "They switched defenses on us and we had to know to adjust."
Evergreen 35, Holy Family 31
At Holy Family HS
Drysdale 4 1-3 10, Schreiber 2 0-0 4, Kennedy 2 0-0 5, Galan Browne 3 2-3 9, Hahn 2 0-0 4, Hellums 0 1-2 1, Dillon 1 0-2 2. Totals 14 4-10 35.
HOLY FAMILY (2-2)
McKenzie 0 0-0 0, Griggs 2 0-0 5, Schwartz 1 4-5 6, Hren 3 0-0 6, Giltner 0 1-2 1, Torres 2 1-3 5, Ward 1 1-2 3, Alderfer 2 0-2 4, Pittenger 0 1-2 1. Totals 11 8-16 31.
Score by quarters:Evergreen (3-0) 6 14 7 8 — 35
3-point field goals — Evergreen (3): Drysdale, Kennedy, Galan Browne; Holy Family (1): Griggs. Technical fouls — Evergreen coach.