BROOMFILED — The shots weren't falling so the Holy Family boys relied on defense to get through the early jitters against Northfield. Even when the Tigers found their offense the defense never relented.
And now Holy Family is on to the Sweet 16 in the 4A tournament.
The fourth-seeded Tigers shook off some cold shooting in the first quarter, got a big offensive game from Tanner Baird and some key early 3-pointers from Zach Becker, and then put away the No. 29-seeded Night Hawks with a strong fourth quarter in a 57-39 win on Saturday.
"We're a defensive team and that's something we take with us everywhere — at home, on the road," Holy Family head coach Peter Villecco said. "We went into this game saying we wanted to play our best defensive game yet because we knew we had one in us. For the most part we guarded pretty well for 32 minutes."
The Tigers (20-4) will host No. 13 seed Lincoln on Wednesday night with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.
Another defensive performance like Saturday could land Holy Family in the next round. The Tigers held Northfield to four points in the first quarter and 15 in the first half. The Night Hawks missed some open shots but Holy Family harassed them into some empty possessions.
"There definitely were some nerves, a couple of weird turnovers we don't' normally have," Baird said. "Our D was great in the first quarter. I think they had two free throws and a transition basket. Our halfcourt D was great but we didn't score a whole lot."
In fact Baird, who had a game-high 29 points, was the only one to score in the first quarter when the Tigers led 9-4. Holy Family missed wide-open 3-pointers and some layups but started to find a rhythm in the second quarter.
Becker hit two straight 3-pointers when Northfield was within three and a 3-pointer by Baird gave the Tigers an 18-10 lead late in the first half.
They stretched it to 12 late in the third and were up 41-33 early in the fourth when Night Hawks junior Nahsyah Bolar, who had a team-high 14 points, was given a technical and fouled out. Baird hit the two free throws but Northfield made a run to get within 43-37.
Night Hawks senior Richard Swanson missed a 3-pointer that would have made it a three-point game, and then Holy Family closed it out.
"In these win-and-move-on type of games there's always a little bit of nerves," Villecco said. "We knew their length and athleticism would take a little bit of adjustment for us. We had a little trouble scoring early but Zach Becker off the bench made a couple of big shots for us and it helped us relax."
Holy Family 57, Northfield 39
At Holy Family HS
Bolar 7 0-2 14, Swanson 3 0-1 7, Philips 3 0-0 6, Dominguez 2 0-0 5, Mize 1 2-5 4, Diakite 0 3-4 3. Totals 16 5-12 39.
HOLY FAMILY (20-4)
Baird 9 9-9 29 Green 3 3-5 9, Helbig 2 2-6 6, Jolly 3 0-0 6, Becker 2 0-0 6, Nellis 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 15-24 57.
Score by quarters:Northfield 4 11 14 10 — 39
Holy Family 9 12 16 20 — 57
3-point field goals — Northfield (2): Dominguez, Swanson; Holy Family (4): Baird 2, Becker 2. Total fouls — Northfield 18, Holy Family 8. Fouled out — Bolar, Diakite.