The Holy Family girls basketball team has mastered Moby Arena in its past, and the Tigers have also soared at the Air Force Academy.

This year's goal for Ron Rossi's team: conquer the Coors Events Center.

The venue may be different, but the goal is always the same at this point. Now that Holy Family is among the final four teams left standing in Class 4A, the Tigers are primed to be at their best on the final weekend of the season.

"We're used to playing in the arenas, and here in 4A we're ready to join that party," Rossi said on Monday night, between studying film clips of Valor Christian — the Tigers' semifinal opponent on Thursday evening.

After beating top-seeded Mesa Ridge 66-52 in the Donald Wilson regional final on Saturday, the Tigers (20-6) may feel out-of-this-world confident. It was not a good matchup on paper, not with 6-foot-5 McDonald's All-American Kylee Shook towering the Tigers inside.

But Rossi's team has been out-sized in virtually every game they've played this year, and it's not playing to their opponent's strengths that have gotten them to the semifinals in just their second year at 4A.

It's playing to their own strengths of speed and smarts. Rossi has used the tag line "catch us if you can" often this year, but it continues to ring true. That starts with savvy senior Katie Chavez and her backcourt teammate Casey Griggs, and continues with junior Leah Schwartz on into the post.


The Tigers have coaxed teams into turnover after turnover after turnover, and collectively they average 15 steals a contest.

That's led them to two other playoff wins, against a bigger Silver Creek squad and then against traditional power Pueblo South. That defense will be the backbone of the attack that will hopefully gain revenge against Valor Christian — the team that ended the 2014-15 season for Holy Family in the quarterfinals and finished out with the 4A title.

"We play a different style than a lot of people play, a little bit of small ball if you will," Rossi said. "We go four guards and one big at a time, and it's harder for teams to adjust to that small ball, I think."

The Eagles (25-1) have not lost since opening night against 5A Fossil Ridge, though Valor squeaked past Mullen 61-58 in the quarterfinals last week. Holy Family will have to be aware of Valor's perimeter game, as Mullen was in holding them to just two 3-pointers (the Eagles made 12 treys against Fort Morgan in the first round) to keep it tight.

Heidi Hammond and Madison McCoy are the 3-point snipers for the Eagles, who have 165 3-pointers collectively this season.

"We're excited to meet the challenge they present, because they knocked us out last year," Rossi said. "We're playing with confidence, but they are the champions and you have to knock the champions off before you even get to the final.

"Experience goes a long way, and our girls want to join in that tradition we've built. We really feel we deserve it just as much as anyone else."

Adam Dunivan: or