ENGLEWOOD -- The words hung in David Sommers' mind: Every possession matters.
The Holy Family guard's coach wrote the phrase on the whiteboard before the Wednesday night's game. And while the second-ranked Tigers made the most of plenty of opportunities when they had the ball, they did not make enough.
It cost the team dearly. The slim margin of error allowed top-ranked Kent Denver to walk off the court with a 48-44 win and in the process the Metro League title.
"If we would have come out a little harder and had the ball bounce our way a few times it would have been a whole different game," Sommers said.
Despite some missteps, Holy Family (16-3, 7-1) made a game of it in the second half. Coming out of intermission the team had its game clicking on both ends of the court and rallied back within striking distance by the fourth.
The team held Kent (17-1, 8-0) to four points in the third while going on a 9-2 run at one point in the period. Chuck Hollwedel got the action started with a layup. Then four other Tigers kept the team clicking with baskets.
The period was heartening to Holy Family coach Pete Villecco, but he knew by no means was it a knockout blow against Kent.
"I knew it was going to come down to the end," Villecco said. "It was like a heavyweight fight, they'd make a run, then we'd make a run."
Kent final put Holy Family away in the fourth, when the Tigers had drawn the score the closest it had been since the opening period. The Sun Devils went on an 11-3 run ending midway through the period. The final two shots were the back-breakers, with Matt Pettyjohn and Josh Repine knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers.
Holy Family battled and drew the game close, but by that point some miscues were coming back to haunt them. Perhaps the most distressing was the team's free-throw shooting. The Tigers left the winning margin at the line, finishing 4 for 12 on foul shots.
"It was the little things that got us tonight," said Sommers, who finished with a game-high 17 points.
Despite falling to the team that knocked Holy Family out of the 2012 Class 3A Final Four, the Tigers' coach was not disappointed with what he saw on the court. Villecco was pleased with his team's will to fight in its first conference loss of the season and the first loss overall in 11 outings.
And with the Metro League tournament tipping off Thursday, he believes the Tigers are ready to shake off their loss to Kent and charge through the brackets.
"We're going to regroup, watch the film, take what we need to improve on and grind away at it," he said.
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Kent Denver 48, Holy Family 44
At Kent HS
HOLY FAMILY (16-3, 7-1)
Hollwedel 1 0-0 2, Sprenger 5 0-2 10, Sommers 7 2-2 17, Atencio 1 0-0 3, Golter 0 1-4 1, Brown 4 0-0 10, Granberg 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 4-12 44.
KENT DENVER (17-1, 8-0)
Boatman 4 6-7 14, Pettyjohn 1 3-4 6, Franklin 1 0-0 2, White 3 1-1 7, Repine 3 2-4 9, Jones 2 0-0 4, Lance 1 4-6 6. Totals 15 16-23.
Score by quarters:
Holy Family 9 6 11 18 -- 44
Kent 17 9 4 18 -- 48
3-point field goals -- Holy Family (4): Sommers, Atencio, Brown 2; Kent (2): Pettyjohn, Repine. Total fouls -- Holy Family 19, Kent 14. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.