DENVER — Holy Family senior Tanner Baird jolted life back into a game mistaken for dead with one final push on Friday night.

The Tigers pressed and flustered the state's No. 1 team in the backcourt as Baird scored a quick seven points, slicing a 20-point lead to 10. A forgone conclusion late in the fourth quarter was replaced with an invigorated bench up and off its fold-out chairs, and a purple smear of fans that were growing ever louder.

And then, well, like all things, it came to an end. The top-ranked Rangers — big, fast, disciplined, and most of all, spectacular — halted the late spurt as Noah Baca capped his perfect shooting performance with one more bucket. Time bled out, and Holy Family's run and the careers of seven varsity seniors ended under the lights at the Denver Coliseum following a 70-56 loss.

The 2018-19 season for Holy Family had been "magical," Tigers coach Peter Villecco said.

"The growth our kids showed from November until today has been unbelievable," he said. "The way our kids bought in, especially down the stretch, it was so much fun to be a part of. We just ran into a really good team. We knew the margin of error was small, but we're not hanging our heads."

Holy Family (22-5) took a valiant shot at the Monument school, which beat the Tigers 60-43 back in December. But the Rangers' dominance continued.

Up until now, the Rangers (27-0) have won all but one game on its schedule by double digits. They came into the Coliseum after running away with victories in their first three postseason games — winning by 17, 55 and 35.


Advertisement

It'll be the battle of perfect teams when they face fellow-unbeaten Longmont in the state finals on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Trojans beat L-P 62-59 in last season's championship game.

Before that, a tip of the cap to Holy Family.

"They're a really good team," L-P senior Joel Scott said. "We knew they were going to come out punching and we knew it was going to be a tough game."

The first blow came from Holy Family's Garrett Green, who gave 4A's goliath a subtle jab with the game's first seven points.

Holy Family’s Garrett Green takes a shot during the Tigers’ Class 4A semifinal against Lewis-Palmer on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum.
Holy Family's Garrett Green takes a shot during the Tigers' Class 4A semifinal against Lewis-Palmer on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

But L-P hit back — over and over. An unruly one-handed dunk by Lewis-Palmer's 6-foot-7 senior Tre McCullough helped reset the tone. His right-armed flush was part of an 8-0 response as the Rangers closed the half on a 31-12 spurt to take control.

Scott and Baca were perfect from the field at the break as LP shot 60 percent. Baca finished 9-for-9 from the field with 20 points, while Scott was 6-of-9 and added 17.

Baird's magnificent stretch in the fourth came after a somewhat slow start as he finished his high school career with 19 points. Earlier, he missed his first free throws of the Class 4A state tournament after coming in a perfect 25-for-25. Green added 16.

Holy Family beat Northfield, Lincoln and Mead in setting up a matchup with L-P. Down 20 with 4:44 remaining, Baird said "on the bench before that last run everyone was chatting, like, 'This isn't over. Just give everything you got.'"

And they did.

It just wasn't enough.

Brent W. New: bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com or twitter.com/BrentWNew

 

Lewis-Palmer 70, Holy Family 56

At Denver Coliseum

HOLY FAMILY (22-5)

Nellis 1 2-2 4, Helbig 3 1-1 7, Becker 1 0-0 3, Baird 8 3-6 19, Pfenning 0 0-0 0, Bartoletti 0 0-0 0, Fernandez 0 0-0 0, Green 6 0-0 16, Jolly 3 1-3 7, Hammond 0 0-0 0, Campbell 0 0-0 0, Pierret 0 0-0 0. Team 22 7-12 56.

LEWIS-PALMER (27-0)

Scott 6 5-7 17, Baca 9 1-2 20, Forrester 5 3-4 13, Wright 0 0-0 0, Westfall 0 0-0 0, Ragsdale 6 0-2 13, Roma 1 1-1 3, Curry 0 0-0 0, McCullough 2 0-0 4, Phillips 0 0-0 0, Speller 0 0-0 0, Berry 0 0-0 0. Team 29 10-16 70.

Score by quarters:

Holy Family             11 8 18 19  — 56
Lewis-Palmer             13 18 21 18  — 70

3-point field goals — Holy Family (5): Green 4, Becker; Lewis-Palmer (2): Baca, Ragsdale. Total fouls — Holy Family 16, Lewis-Palmer 14. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.