BROOMFIELD - These are the games, the kinds of outings that Holy Family is going to run into, especially if the Tigers wish to win another Class 4A Tri-Valley League title.
Now 33-3 in the league — including 8-0 this season — since jumping from 3A, the Tigers had to grind out one at home on Friday night, a 55-39 decision over Skyline that definitely wasn't pretty, probably wasn't that one-sided and arguably had assorted moments resembling shirts versus skins at lunchtime at your local recreation center or the downtown Denver YMCA.
It was nothing new.
Still, Holy Family won its third straight game, improved to 13-4 overall and was well aware of what was happening ... and dealt with it.
"(The Falcons') style of play, it's a grind-out style and our first game was worse," Tigers coach Pete Villecco said in recalling a 43-25 victory to open league play. "And they're improved, they do a good job with their zone."
Skyline, now 8-7, 2-6, certainly gave Holy Family some fits with its zone defense and slow-down style as well as winning the battle of the backboards, but the Tigers' quickness, savvy, ability to hit some shots and contributions from eight players eventually sealed it.
Hoy Family, behind sophomore Tanner Baird and senior Joe Golter, threatened to run away and hide a few times, grabbing leads of 20-9 and 29-16 at halftime, only to have the Falcons claw back and get within 39-32.
However, the Tigers got the ball inside more and Skyline struggled, including in ball protection. Down the stretch, junior substitute Aaron Sanders hit a big 3-pointer, Cameron Miller scored three times down low and Holy Family's defense delivered.
Just as the Tigers enjoyed good ball movement early, their defense in and around the paint late proved beneficial and was what Villecco wants to see, especially against a stubborn opponent.
"We wanted to find a way to get some easy baskets off our defense because against these guys easy baskets are hard to come by," the seventh-year head coach said. "It's a competitive league and we've been clean so far, but every night has been a battle. Teams see us and want to compete."
The Tigers won the league in their 4A debut in 2014-15, tied for the top with two others a season ago, and have six more to go beginning with Tuesday's road matchup at Frederick.
Baird, who led all scorers with 17 points, said "I give credit to (the Falcons) for their zone, it makes it tough on you. It was definitely a struggle."
Being the chased in the league, he added, is the place to be because "I think the league games are important, the ones you have to grind out. I think they prepare you for the big games ... it's pretty fun, I like it when teams want to get after us. We just have to keep our composure and come out strong."
Golter added 11 points for Holy Family.
"We're small, but I like our quickness and we have some tough kids," Villecco said.
Nate Higgins (13 points) and Brayden Blick (12) led Skyline, which also was guilty of 19 turnovers, and shot 13-of-32 from the floor and 8-of-6 at the free-throw line.
Holy Family 55, Skyline 39
At Holy Family
SKYLINE (8-7, 2-6)
Martinez 1 0-0 3, Blick 4 1-4 12, Higgins 5 2-5 13, Gutierrez 1 1-2 3, Robison 1 1-2 3, Smith 1 0-0 2, Lopez 0 3-3 3, Zimbleman 0 0-0 0, Hall 0 0-0 0, McGregor 0 0-0 0, Zietlow 0 0-0 0, Robertson 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 8-16 39..
HOLY FAMILY (13-4, 8-0)
Helbig 2 0-1 4, Baird 6 5-6 17, Golter 4 0-0 11, Zeman 1 1-2 4, Miller 3 3-4 9, Kinoti 1 0-0 2, Price 0 0-0 0, Sanders 3 0-0 8, Nellis 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 9-13 55..
Score by quarters:Skyline 9 7 13 10 — 39
Holy Family 11 18 10 16 — 55
3-point field goals — Skyline (5): Blick 3, Higgins, Martinez; Holy Family (6): Golter 3, Sanders 2, Zeman. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.