HIGHLANDS RANCH — Early in the second half of Friday's Class 4A first round playoff game at Valor Christian High School, the Holy Family Tigers were in a little bit of trouble.
The Tigers, seeded fourth in the Mark Randall Region, had been in control most of the way against fifth-seeded Fort Morgan, but the Mustangs were starting to put some things together. And Holy Family, which only features three seniors, was starting to look a bit frazzled.
That's when Joe Golter decided to step up.
Golter, a 6-foot junior guard, is the unofficial leader of the Tigers, and he decided to take control. He settled the team down and provided a steady hand down the stretch as Holy Family (17-7) held on to pull out a 52-46 victory.
"My teammates look to me and I didn't have the best first half," said Golter, who finished with a team-best 14 points to go along with six rebounds. "Our team really showed toughness in the end, in the second half especially."
Golter embodied that toughness, whether it was coming down a much-needed rebound in traffic, or taking a strong drive to the hole to get a bucket when the Tigers were looking to stem the tide.
"Joe's been our leader, our quarterback all year," Holy Family coach Pete Villecco said. "He played all 32 minutes, took care of the basketball and he's our coach on the floor. I can't say enough about him."
While Golter was providing the leadership the team needed, the Tigers received contributions form plenty of players during the contest. Freshman Kyle Helbig played well beyond his years, scoring 12 points to go along with five boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Cameron Miller added 11 points, and Zach Horning put in some quality minutes, grabbing several key rebounds while being a defensive presence.
"That's how it's been all year for us," Villecco said. "A guy steps up and makes plays one night, and another guy does it another night. It's kind of a microcosm of our year."
Fort Morgan (16-8) came out strong early behind the play of 6-3 sophomore Trey McBride, who scored the Mustangs first three buckets to give them a 7-3 lead. But Holy Family outscored them 12-4 to close out the first quarter.
Fort Morgan did take a 20-19 lead on Tate Kembel's 3-pointer with under three minutes to play in the second quarter, but a 7-2 run to close out the half gave Holy Family the lead for good.
"Anytime you make it to the Sweet 16, you have to be proud of it," Golter said. "It's no accident we're here. We've showed toughness throughout the season, and we're just going to keep grinding."
Holy Family 52, Fort Morgan 46
At Valor Christian High School
FORT MORGAN (16-8)
Garver 2 0-1 4, McBride 6 3-6 17, Breidenbach 2 0-0 4, Gertner 2 0-0 4, Kembel 4 3-4 14, Shaver 0 0-0 0, Gerken 1 0-1 3. Totals 17 6-12 46.
HOLY FAMILY (17-7)
Golter 6 1-5 14, Nelson 1 0-0 2, Marty 0 0-0 0, Horning 2 1-2 5, Price 1 0-0 3, Zeman 2 0-2 5, Baird 0 0-2 0, Helbig 4 2-4 12, Miller 4 3-4 11. Totals 20 7-19 52.
Score by quarters:Fort Morgan 11 11 13 11 — 46
Holy Family 15 11 14 12 — 52
3-point field goals — Fort Morgan (6): Kembel 3, McBride 2, Gerken; Holy Family (5): Helbig 2, Golter, Price, Zeman. Fouled out — McBride.
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