BROOMFIELD — The Holy Family girls knew what they were up against when the draw for the Class 4A state tournament came out.
The Tanya Haave Region of the bracket was a who's who of some of the state best and navigating their way to Final Four was going to test every aspect of their game.
After dispatching a Mullen team that had beaten them earlier in the season in the second round, the No. 8-seeded Tigers again had to lace their sneakers up tight against the ninth-seeded Jefferson County League champions from Golden.
The Demons inside-outside game was on full display, especially when it mattered most down the stretch of a tight game, and it propelled them to a 56-48 win at Holy Family in the Sweet 16.
"That's a really good team and they are going to go a long way," said Holy Family coach Ron Rossi, whose Tri-Valley championship team ends the season 19-6. "They've got the inside and the outside game and we can't defend both.
"I thought we did a pretty good job and then it just blew out on us at the end."
It looked early on as though the Tigers, who were able to dictate the pace, might have a chance to put the Demons away. A 16-8 lead early the second quarter was tenuous, though, given the fact junior Isabelle Hren was forced to sit with three personal fouls.
"It made it really difficult when your leading scorer, rebounder, steals and assists person is foul trouble," Rossi said. "It just changes the whole dimension of our team."
Said Golden coach Greg Bolding, whose 22-3 team will face No. 1 Pueblo South in the Great 8: "We know she is their engine and we were fortunate that we were able to get her frustrated and into some foul trouble early and that changed the tempo of the game."
With Hren on the bench for all but 13 seconds of the second quarter, the Demons went on a 13-2 run that turned a 16-8 deficit to a 21-18 lead early in the third quarter.
Guard Sydney Prey (the outside) and post Abby Garnett (the inside) combine to score 19 of Golden's 21 third quarter points that gave them momentum and a 37-35 lead going to the fourth quarter.
Even after the Demons built a 46-37 lead in the fourth with four minutes to play, the Tigers didn't fold.
With just over a minute to play, Hren — who scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter — cut the lead to 50-48 with two free throws. But on the ensuing trip down the floor, needing a stop, Hren committed her fifth foul and sent Elli Garnett to the line. The freshman was a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe in the quarter and iced the game for the Demons.
"We never gave up and we had or high and our lows and they did too," said senior Leah Schwartz, who finished with a team-high 16 points for the Tigers. "Sometimes it is just hard to keep it going."
With both Hren (14 points) and Casey Griggs (12 points) on the bench with under a minute to play having fouled out, the Tigers looked to Schwartz to provide a shot in the arm to complete the comeback. The Demons knew it and didn't allow the senior a clean look.
"I just think we had a lot of miscommunication on defense, and they were a great team" Schwartz said. "I love this group of girls so much and this was by far one of my best year at Holy Family, especially under coach Rossi."
GOLDEN 56, HOLY FAMILY 48
At Holy Family
Sydney Prey 8 3-3 22, Mia Johnson 0 0-0 0, Allyson Goodwin 1 0-0 2, Haley Prey 1 0-3 2, Elli Garnett 1 6-6 8, Makena Prey 1 6-9 8, Abby Garnett 4 5-6 14. Totals 16 20-27 56.
HOLY FAMILY (19-6)
Kaitlyn McKenzie 0 0-0 0, Casey Griggs 4 1-1 12, Leah Schwartz 7 0-0 16, Isabelle Hren 4 6-6 14, Paige Giltner 1 0-0 2, BreAnna Torres 0 0-0 0, Amanda Ward 1 0-0 2, Sydney Alderfer 1 0-0 2, Cydney Pittenger 0 0-2 0. Totals 18 7-9 48.
Score by quarters:Golden 7 9 21 21 — 56
Holy Family 9 11 17 13 — 48
3-point field goals — Golden (4): S. Prey 3, A. Garnett; Holy Family (5): Griggs 3, Schwartz 2. Total fouls — Golden 14, Holy Family 22. Fouled out — Goodwin; Griggs, Hren.