BROOMFIELD — Seniors Tanner Baird and Kyle Helbig led the way offensively for Holy Family as the school celebrated its second Final Four berth in less than 24 hours.

Asked who the biggest difference maker was, though, and the two didn't hesitate.

"Garrett Green," Baird said.

Helbig, echoing in the background, "Garrett Green for MVP."

Green was staunch in primarily defending Mead senior Caleb Ayers — who bombarded Holy Family with nine 3s in the Mavericks' two victories in league play — and limited him to five points. And the Tigers held the most-potent deep attack in the state without a make from beyond the perimeter for more than three quarters in a 63-54 win in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

"He was attached to him all (game)," Mead coach Darin Reese said. "He made it difficult for him to get clean looks. He did a good job."

A packed-out gym nearly an hour before tip-off set the scene for a third meeting between the Tri-Valley League rivals. Mead (22-4) beat the Tigers 50-45 on Jan. 24 and 79-71 on Valentine's Day to wrap up its undefeated run in league, but Holy Family (22-4) won on the biggest stage.

Baird scored a game-high 25 and Helbig had 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Tigers held on to advance to the semifinals for the first time since moving to 4A in 2015.

The Tigers, leading by as many as 16 in the first half and 12 in the final frame, withstood a series of runs.


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Helbig had his team's first seven points in the fourth — but the Mavericks found some late rhythm after Will Maher's 3 snapped an 0-for-16 stretch from deep with 5:08 remaining. Not long after, Ayers followed with another long swish to pull within 45-39.

Yet with the Mavericks suddenly finding their deep touch, the Tigers, and especially Baird, remained cool. The senior guard hit eight straight free throws in the final 3:08 and finished 10 for 10 from the line. He is now a perfect 25 of 25 from the strike this postseason.

Holy Family’s Jonathan Pfenning, center, takes a shot over Mead’s, from left, Caleb Ayer, Jacob Bartholomew, and Trey Ward on Saturday.
Holy Family's Jonathan Pfenning, center, takes a shot over Mead's, from left, Caleb Ayer, Jacob Bartholomew, and Trey Ward on Saturday. (Kira Vos / For the Camera)

"I'm so happy for Tanner and Kyle because they've been four-year varsity guys," Holy Family coach Peter Villecco said. "We've been knocking on the door, and for them to have this opportunity their senior year is awesome."

Baird scored 15 in the opening half, helping push the Tigers out to a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter. He had a quick eight points in the opening minutes, then Helbig finished a 3-point play and Dominic Nellis hit a 3 before playfully chirping at the Mead student section.

Holy Family was ahead 28-12 with 3:58 left in the half before Mead closed on a 13-3 spurt to make it 31-25. The Tigers then led by 11 in the third and the Mavericks cut it to six in the first 22 seconds of the fourth.

With every point, turnover and foul, both Holy Family and Mead fans rocked the gym at a blistering decibel. At the final buzzer, the Tigers' student section poured on to the court as they did after their girls' team beat Greeley Central Friday night.

"It was awesome," Helbig said. "That's the biggest atmosphere I've ever played in. Our fans really showed out and we'll need it next Friday, too."

Friday, with a spot in the finals on the line, Holy Family will face the winner of No. 1 Lewis-Palmer and No. 9 Centaurus at the Denver Coliseum.

Mead ended the season with the program's third league title, third trip to the state quarterfinals, and the most wins in a season (22), per the coach.

"There's a lot for these guys to be proud of," Reese said. "They raised the bar for Mead basketball."

Brent W. New: bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com and @brentwnew

 

Holy Family 63, Mead 54

At Holy Family HS

MEAD (22-4)

Sock 0 0-0 0, N. Jacobs 3 1-2 7, Maher 3 4-6 11, Wilhelm 2 0-0 4, Ward 5 2-2 12, Ayers 1 2-3 5, Pelzel 0 0-0 0, Knudsen 0 0-0 0, Wilke 4 3-4 11, Batholomew 1 0-0 2, McGill 0 0-0 0, K. Jacobs 1 0-0 2. Team 20 12-17 54.

HOLY FAMILY (22-4)

Nellis 1 0-2 3, Helbig, 5 7-13 19, Becker 1 2-2 5, Baird 7 10-10 25, Pfenning 1 1-2 3, Fernandez 0 0-0 0, Green 2 0-0 6, Jolly 0 2-2 2, Hammond 0 0-0 0, Campbell 0 0-0 0, Pierret 0 0-0 0. Team 17 22-31 63.

Score by quarters:

Mead 8 17 7 22 — 54

Holy Family 18 13 8 24 — 63

3-point field goals — Mead (2): Maher, Ayers; Holy Family (7): Helbig 2, Green 2, Nellis, Becker, Baird. Total fouls — Mead 21, Holy Family 21. Fouled out — Maher; Nellis, Green, Jolly. Technical fouls — Maher.