BROOMFIELD — There is inevitably a moment in every big Holy Family girls game, that head coach Ron Rossi just knows they have the contest in the bag.
And it is usually signified with an emphatic fist-pump.
On Saturday afternoon in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament, it came in the waning moments of the third quarter when Tigers junior Leah Schwartz's lay-up capped off a 13-0 and helped break open a tie game with the visiting Colts.
It was just the separation the second-seeded Tigers needed and they held on down the stretch for a 53-44 win over the co-South Central League champs.
It was fun, these two traditional powers playing each other," said Rossi, whose team will travel to Colorado Springs to meet 6-foot-5 University of Louisville-bound Kylee Shook and her top-seeded Mesa Ridge Grizzlies on Friday for a Great Eight affair in the Donald Wilson Region.
"If you were a spectator, that was a fun game."
Especially in the first half, when the two teams traded the lead eight times during a fast-paced scoring bonanza.
The Colts (18-7) couldn't miss in the early going and their guard tandem of Hannah Kochen (11 points) and freshman Drea Nelson (11 points) were knocking down 3-pointers with relative ease. Pueblo South led after the first eight minutes, 21-16 and the game had all the makings of a high-scoring shoot-out.
But Rossi switched things up and his Tigers got defensive. A 10-0 run to start the second quarter helped them restore order and set the tone for what the Colts were going to get for the rest of the game.
"We were just concentrating on three possession at a time and getting a stop-score-stop's," Rossi said. "I thought the real key was when we switched to man-to-man and we could get out to their shooters, because they were just bombing away.
"And then when we came out, there inside took over."
It wasn't just the Katie Chavez (18 points) show on the offensive end for Holy Family. The Tigers moved the ball around efficiently and were able to get to the basket with Chavez, Isabelle Hren and others attacking the Pueblo South big's.
Hren, just a sophomore, was fantastic running the offense and was precise with her shot selection. She finished with 16 points and seemed to score at the most opportune times.
"She has grown and is just a sophomore that is not a sophomore anymore," Rossi said. "Next year, when Katie leaves, she is going to take over that role, so the growth has come fast."
Pueblo South, which only had four girls score points, made things interesting a few times down the stretch when they made it a two-possession game. Freshman Gabi Lucero was tough in the low-post and finished with a game-high 20, but it wasn't enough for the Colts who were forced to foul when the Tigers went into their spread offense.
The Tigers, who also got 11 points from Schwartz, and their four guard offense will have its work cut out for them when they head to Mesa Ridge, but Rossi — ever the mad scientist when it come to game-planning — will have his team ready.
"It doesn't scare us. Basketball is basketball and we need to step up and have our team prepared to play against a different style than other teams we play," Rossi said. "We just have to work harder and our guards are going to have to do a better job of blocking out."
Holy Family 53, Pueblo South 44
At Holy Family
PUEBLO SOUTH (18-7)
Hannah Kochen 4 2-6 11, Drea Nelson 3 0-0 11, Brooke Gierhart 0 0-0 0, Maya Austin 0 0-0 0, Chloe Kraus 0 0-0 0, Maddie Leigh 1 0-0 2, Gabi Lucero 9 2-9 20. Totals 18 4-15 44.
HOLY FAMILY (19-6)
Katie Chavez 5 6-8 18, Casey Griggs 1 0-0 2, Leah Schwartz 4 3-5 11, Isabelle Hren 5 5-5 16, Natalie Gardon 1 0-1 2, Amanda Ward 0 0-0 0, Sydney Alderfer 0 0-0 0, RaeAnne Torres 0 0-0 0, Cydney Pittenger 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 14-19 53.
Score by quarters:Pueblo South 21 8 6 9 — 44
Holy Family 16 16 11 10 — 53
3-point field goals — Pueblo South (4): Nelson 3, Kochen; Holy Family (3): Chavez 2, Hren. Total fouls — Pueblo South 20; Holy Family 14.