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Boys basketball: Holy Family stuns Colorado Springs Christian School

Holy Family's Tanner Stuhr goes to the basket against Colorado Springs Christian's Reagan Chapman during the 3A state Great Eight Game at CSU's Moby Arena on Thursday.
David R Jennings
Holy Family’s Tanner Stuhr goes to the basket against Colorado Springs Christian’s Reagan Chapman during the 3A state Great Eight Game at CSU’s Moby Arena on Thursday.

FORT COLLINS — Underdogs? It’s probably safe to say the Holy Family boys basketball team shed that label Thursday.

The Tigers played like anything but a team just happy to be qualified for the Class 3A Great Eight at Moby Arena, flustering and dismantling undefeated and second-seeded Colorado Springs Christian School 61-41.

The Tigers, seeded 10th when the state tournament began last week, finished the first half on a 21-2 run and never looked back.

“We worked too hard to just come here and lay an egg,” senior forward Tanner Stuhr said. “Twenty-four-and-0 means nothing at this point. We’re all 0-0 at this point. That’s what we really emphasized this week in practice.”

Now Holy Family is on to the state semifinals on Friday against Metro League rival Kent Denver. Win that one, and the Tigers would try on Saturday for their first state title since 1998.

The HFHS run is already quite a feat given that the Tigers went 7-14 last season in the first year under head coach Pete Villecco.

“No,” senior guard A.J. Middleton answered when asked if he could have expected a state semifinal berth a year ago. “But we kept working and kept getting better every day and kept looking forward.”

Facing a CSCS squad that features one of the best players in the state in Denver Pioneers recruit Nate Engesser, the Tigers relentlessly pressured the ball on the perimeter and jumped passing lanes to give the Lions (24-1) trouble for most of the game.

CSCS jumped out to a 10-4 lead early. But Holy Family’s defense came to life in the second quarter, holding the Lions scoreless for the final 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the first half. The Tigers forced nine CSCS turnovers in the second quarter and led 34-17 at the intermission.

“They’re a great team, and we just didn’t come ready,” Engesser said.

Engesser, a 6-foot-3 senior who entered the game averaging 23.2 points per game, scored 18. But the output came on 5-for-23 shooting from the field as the Tigers double-teamed him on drives and forced him to settle for several tough shots from the outside.

Kyle Broekhuis, meanwhile, finished with just 10 points after scoring eight in the first quarter for CSCS.

“We didn’t do anything different than we’ve been doing the whole year,” Villecco said. “We wanted to pressure the ball. We put our best on-ball defender, David Sommers, on (Engesser). And we just wanted to make everything for him as difficult as possible.

“We’re here because of our grit and defense. That’s why we’re still playing.”

The contributors were many for a Holy Family squad that was outsized by two or three inches at every position on the floor.

Stuhr scored 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting from both the field and free-throw line. And he grabbed 10 rebounds.

Forward Kyle Willis scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards. And Middleton scored eight points, all during the second quarter run that left CSCS frustrated for the rest of the game.

The Lions — who beat Holy Family 55-51 in December — shaved Holy Family’s lead to 36-24 to start the second half, but Holy Family answered with 11 straight points to essentially halt any threat of a comeback.

Now the Tigers face a team in Kent Denver they’ve already beaten once. Holy Family topped Kent during the regular season, but then fell to the Sun Devils in the Metro League tournament.

“We kind of feel like (CSCS) underestimated us so we can’t do that tomorrow night against either team,” Stuhr said.

Holy Family 61, Colorado Springs Christian 41

At Moby Arena

HOLY FAMILY (16-9)

Middleton 3 1-1 8, Hollwedel 1 0-0 2, Stuhr 7 7-9 21, Cox 0 0-0 0, Atencio 0 0-0 0, Sommers 2 1-2 6, R. Willis 2 2-3 6, Sprenger 0 0-0 0, Jarasius 1 0-0 2, Clay 0 0-1 0, Granberg 0 0-0 0, K. Willis 6 4-6 16. Totals 22 15-22 61.

COLORADO SPRINGS CHRISTIAN (24-1)

Randol 0 0-0 0, Wilbur 0 0-0 0, Stockton 0 0-0 0, J. Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, C. Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Chapman 2 1-5 5, Russell 1 0-0 3, McConnell 2 1-4 5, Broekhuis 5 0-0 10, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Bruns 0 0-0 0, Engesser 5 5-5 18. Totals 15 7-11 41.

Score by quarters:

Holy Family 8 26 13 14 — 61

CSCS 12 5 10 14 — 41

 

3-point field goals — Holy Family (2): Middleton, Sommers; CSCS (4): Engesser 3, Russell. Total fouls — Holy Family 10, Faith Christian 21. Fouled out — Chapman. Technicals — None.

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