LONGMONT — If you had told Skyline coach Tyler Cerveny that, not only was Holy Family's Joe Golter going to miss Tuesday's Tri-Valley League opener but that his Falcon's were going to limit the Tigers leading scorer, Tanner Baird, to just five points, he probably would have taken it.
The Falcons had their chances against Holy Family coach Pete Villecco's squad — especially in the third quarter, when a 9-0 run cut the Tigers lead to 22-21 — but couldn't close out it out and lost 43-25 on their home court.
With Golter still nursing a a high ankle sprain from the Pueblo South game, the Tigers were forced to get creative on the offensive end.
Enter, Wega Kinoti.
The slender 6-foot-1 junior was lethal when it mattered most. He hit two of his three 3-pointers in an 8-2 run to close out the third quarter and extend that aforementioned 22-21 lead to 30-23 going to the fourth.
"My teammates were good to find me the ball when I was feeling it, and I owe it to them," said Kinoti, who finished with a career high 14 points of the bench for the Tigers. "We wanted to start league play off on the right foot."
Said Cerveny, who refused to call Tuesday's game a measuring-stick game for his up-and-coming squad: "We closed the gap, but they are at a point in their program where they know how to respond and make big shots. We aren't there yet, cause when we cut it to one, we had two possession in a row where it was just one pass and shot. We are climbing and we are getting better, but we have to learn in those scenarios to beat established teams like that."
Skyline scored just two points in the final eight minutes and on a night when the rust was evident for both sides, Holy Family can almost always hang their hat on the defensive side of the court.
"We always talk about playing together on that side playing as a unit," Kinoti said. "We celebrated that in the locker room."
Sophomore Kyle Helbig scored 10 of his 14 in the second half and was fearless going to the rim against the Falcons defense that wasn't afraid to challenge.
Skyline was paced by 6-foot-4 senior Hunter Gutierrez, who was the only Falcon player in double digits with 11 points. He was instrumental in the run that closed the gap in the third quarter, scoring eight points. The Falcon's back court tandem of Brayden Blick and Nate Higgins each came in averaging 12.3 per game — combines for just eight points.
"They beat us tonight and we will get another shot at them," Cerveny said. "Basketball is a marathon, so if you win a few in a row, then your feeling pretty good."
HOLY FAMILY 43, SKYLINE 25
HOLY FAMILY (6-3, 1-0)
Dominic Nellis 0 0-0 0, Kyle Helbig 5 3-6 14, Tanner Baird 1 3-6 5, Wega Kinoti 5 0-0 14, Aaron Sanders 0 0-0 0, Tanner Price 2 0-0 5, Michael Zeman 1 2-5 4, Cameron Miller 0 0-0 0, Dylan Hunter 1 0-0 2, Adam Jolly 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-17 43.
SKYLINE (5-2, 0-1)
Connor Smith 1 0-0 2, Ben Lopez 0 0-0 0, Demetrio Martinez 1 2-2 4, Brayden Blick 1 0-0 3, Nate Higgins 2 1-2 5, Camilo Martinez 0 0-0 0, Parker Monticello 0 0-0 0, Kyle Zimbleman 0 0-0 0, Hunter Gutierrez 5 1-2 11, Austin Robison 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 4-6 25.
Score by quarters:Holy Family 7 9 14 13 — 43
Skyline 6 4 13 2 — 25
3-point field goals — Holy Family (5): Kinoti 3, Helbig, Price; Skyline (1): Blick. Total fouls — Holy Family 10; Skyline 22. Fouled out — Miller, Blick. Technical fouls — Skyline coach Cerveny.