BROOMFIELD - If, as the late, great David Bowie once told us, we can be heroes (or heroines) just for one day, then perhaps Isabelle Hren's turn came on Friday night.
The junior, like most of her Holy Family teammates, started horrendously at home against Mullen in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. Poor shooting and ball-handling, having 11 field-goal attempts blocked in the first half, being a step slow ... the Tigers were guilty of all of it.
However, Hren came alive in the final stretch of the fourth quarter, scoring seven straight points and making a key steal as the Tigers reached down to topple Mullen 48-37 and hand revered coach Ron Rossi his 451st career victory.
Holy Family, on a 12-game roll, climbed to 19-5 and will host Golden, the Jefferson County League champion, on Tuesday night in the Sweet 16.
The Tigers' early play could have gotten them down, Hren said, "but it didn't. Coach said at halftime, he's always saying, 'Don't stop believing, you can do this, find a way' ... and especially with the blocked shots, we had to shot fake, shot fake ... I think we just calmed down and we wanted this so bad."
Said Rossi, who openly wondered about what was easily the toughest matchup of the round: "With all of the blocked shots, bad decisions, sometimes you've just got to keep believing that it will get going good. Life's that way."
It certainly was. Mullen, which ended 12-13, led 19-11 and Holy Family missed 17 of its first 20 shots. But a second-quarter surge by Casey Griggs got the Tigers within 24-20 at halftime and a 3-pointer by Leah Schwartz late in the third quarter gave them their first lead at 29-28. The real separation occurred inside the final 4 minutes as Hren made a strong move in the lane, followed it with a 3-pointer, then added two free throws.
Hren said she and teammates weren't as stunned about being in the game with their shoddy play as much as she was "stunned we were tied. We did a lot of film work, worked on defense and coach had us really prepared, and yet we were down. It lit a fire under us."
Mullen, which beat Holy Family 52-42 in the season-opener and played 14 games in the demanding 5A Centennial League, never recovered. Finishing had been a problem all season, coach Frank Cawley said, and the Mustangs managed only single-digit scoring over each of the final three quarters.
"The kids believe in their roles on defense," said Rossi, who had 17 years heading Lakewood's boys and is in his 13th with the Tigers. "At this level, you can control your defense, but you can't control your offense."
Hren, who led all scorers with 16 points, called advancing to the next round "exciting." Griggs (11) and Schwartz (9) were right there.
Holy Family 48, Mullen 37
At Holy Family
Galvan 1 2-2 4, J. Congdon 3 1-2 7, DiSaverio 1 0-0 2, Jacob 2 5-8 10, VanHorn 2 2-2 6, S. Congdon 1 0-0 2, Schwappach 0 0-0 0, Zaragoza 2 0-0 4, Robles 0 1-2 1, Perez 0 1-2 1. Totals 12 12-18 37..
Griggs 2 6-9 11, Schwartz 3 2-3 9, Hren 3 9-11 16, Ward 0 1-2 1, Alderfer 1 3-4 5, Pittenger 1 0-0 2, Torres 2 0-2 4, Giltner 0 0-0 0, McKenzie 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 21-31 48..
Score by quarters:Mullen 15 9 7 6 — 37
3-point field goals — Jacob; Griggs, Hren, Schwartz. Fouled out — J. Congdon; Alderfer. Technical fouls — none.