DENVER — No team can ever know exactly what to expect as it attempts to knock off the offseason rust during its first game of the season.
Returning its two leading scorers and a wealth of varsity experience for the 2016-17 season, however, the Holy Family boys basketball team had a pretty good idea what it would look like against Conifer on Friday. The Tigers expected to defend aggressively, first and foremost. Offensively, they expected to be average in size but advantageously quick, and expected to move the ball even quicker.
The Tigers lived up to their own expectations and won, handily, by a score of 60-37 at the D'Evelyn/Golden Preview Classic.
"With the first game, you never know what to expect," Tigers head coach Pete Villecco said. "But we have four rock-solid seniors and I feel good with those guys leading us. Our two sophomores played a lot last year as freshmen and are going to be special. I felt good with our group coming in and we're happy to get out of here with a win."
One of four Tigers players to score in double figures, sophomore Tanner Baird shined in the victory, tipping passes at the defensive end and starting the fast break. Sophomore Kyle Helbig scored a game-high 12 points and senior Cameron Miller and Blair each scored 11. Senior Joe Golter, who led the team with 11.6 points for game last season, scored 10.
With a double-digit lead nearly from state to finish, nine of the 10 Tigers who entered the game scored at least two points.
"This was important for us because we wanted to start the season off strong," Baird said. "We're going to have a lot of tough competition this season so it was good to start building some momentum. I thought our 1-3-1 offense was pretty good and our defense was good overall. They hit a lot of threes in the first half and that's something we need to clean up."
Three-pointers were about all Lobos hit.
Hitting seven 3-pointers in the game, the Lobos scored their first 12 points from behind the arc. But the Tigers held the Lobos, who won a solid 14 games last season, to five two-point field goals. They also held the Lobos to six points in the first quarter and five in the third.
"We've got to keep defending, that's our trademark," Baird said. "We did that tonight and we got a win."
Ranked fifth in Class 4A by the CHSAANow.com preseason poll after reaching the Sweet 16 last year, the Tigers' season will continue at the Preview Classic against Lewis-Palmer on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Family 60, Conifer 37
At D'Evelyn High School
Abe Martin 1 0-0 3, Mark Studer 3 4-5 12, Jesse West 0 0-0 0, Seth Sanker 1 0-2 3, Kellen Ireland 2 0-1 5, Kasim Rana 0 0-0 0, Landon Wallace 2 0-0 4, David Jacobson 1 0-0 3, Gunnar Vega 0 0-0 0, Andrew Wood 2 2-4 7. Totals 12 6-12 37.
HOLY FAMILY (1-0)
Dominic Nellis 0 0-1 0 , Kyle Helbig 5 1-2 12, Joe Golter 5 0-0 10, Tanner Baird 4 3-4 11, Wega Kinoti 1 0-0 3, Aaron Sanders 1 0-0 3, Tanner Price 0 2-3 2, Michael Zeman 2 0-0 5, Cameron Miller 4 3-4 11, Dylan Hunter 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 9-14 60.
Score by quarters:Conifer 6 15 5 11 — 37 Holy Family 14 18 13 15 — 60
3-point field goals — Conifer (7): Studer 2, Martin, Sankey, Jacobson, Wood, Ireland; Holy Family (4): Kinoti, Sanders, Zeman, Helbig. Total fouls — Conifer 17, Holy Family 18. Fouled out — Rana.