BROOMFIELD — The minute Holy Family junior basketball player Joe Golter was informed that the Tigers suffered a devastating loss to their team, he knew his role was going to change drastically.
Friday night's season opener against Niwot was the first step in realizing just how much Golter will be looked to as this year's possible breakout player. For the team, a win over the Cougars also perhaps cleared up any anxiety about how well they could do without Chris Helbig.
Helbig, who suffered an ACL tear close to the end of football season, was present on the bench to cheer the Tigers on in their 44-36 home victory, dealing Niwot (1-1) its first loss.
On the court, Golter took charge like he is expected to. He finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, taking the ball down the stretch when Niwot tried to foul its way back into the game.
"We have guys who are figuring out what kind of players they are, and we are going to have Chris on the sidelines helping us out as best as he can," Golter said. "We see him (on the bench), and we work harder because of it.
"For me, I am going to probably handle the ball more with him out. I'll also look to score more, too, because we have to fill that gap."
In a matchup that saw Niwot win last year — ironically Helbig missed that game, as well — the defenses of both squads were pretty sound and tenacious.
It made for a good opening matchup, Golter said, especially since the Tigers' experience comes in their junior class.
But also chiming in for Holy Family was Kyle Helbig, a freshman with a nose for the hoop. He made a pair of baskets in the second half to finish with four points but also made his presence known with seven rebounds.
Most of them came early as Holy Family built a 18-5 halftime lead.
"(Niwot) came out with good defense, and I think we learned a lot today with who our team is, really," Golter said. "Kyle looked great for his first game as a freshman."
Niwot's deficit early was founded on missed shots inside, and the Cougars made just one of their 16 first half field goal attempts. Holy Family made sure Ryan Kannegeiter and Walker Bounds could not get going, and only in the third period did a Cougars player find his stroke.
That was Adam Barber, who had eight points in the frame and 11 points overall. He hit two 3-pointers in the third, one coming at the 3 minute, 5 second mark that made it 26-17.
The lead for Holy Family stayed around that same margin throughout the fourth quarter, although the Cougars did gain some ground by putting the Tigers on the line (they made just 8 of 17 free throws for the contest).
Kannegeiter finished with 12 points and six rebounds to lead Niwot.
"Defensively in the first half I thought we did a very good job, and throughout the second half also," Barber said. "We dug a deep hole. The players on the bench stepped up and made some stops ... If we're ever down, we know we're going to keep fighting."
Holy Family 44, Niwot 36
At Holy Family HS
Jackson Kolakowski 0 0-0 0, Danoto Rios 0 0-0 -, Jacob Sims 0 0-0 0, Joseph Ho 1 0-1 2, Walker Bounds 2 3-4 7, Alex Helgeland 0 0-0 0, Noah Radatz 0 1-2 1, Ryan Kannegeiter 4 2-3 12, Adam Barber 2 5-6 11, Michael Agado 1 0-1 3, Ty Vigil 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 11-17 36.
HOLY FAMILY (1-0)
Joe Golter 4 6-12 14, Andy Nelson 3 0-0 7, Jack Marty 0 0-0 0, Zach Horning 3 0-0 6, Tanner Price 1 1-4 3, Michael Zeman 1 0-0 2, Tanner Baird 0 0-0 0, Kyle Helbig 2 0-0 4, Cameron Miller 3 1-1 7. Totals 17 8-17 44.
Score by quarters:Niwot 3 2 15 16 — 36
Holy Family 8 10 13 13 — 44
3-point field goals — Niwot (5): Kannegeiter 2, Barber 2, Agado; Holy Family (2): Nelson, Price. Total fouls — Niwot 19, Holy Family 18.