FORT COLLINS — Living a Cinderella postseason can be a curse, especially when the dance finally comes to an end. Holy Family boys basketball was dumbstruck Friday when the clock finally struck midnight on their dream run.
The upstart seven-seed missed its first Class 3A finals appearance since 1998, falling to Kent Denver 29-26 at Moby Arena. Making the loss to the sixth-seeded Sun Devils even tougher for the Tigers to gut was the fashion in which it came about.
Kent came up with a last minute play giving them the lead after Holy Family (16-10) had done just enough to lead for 15 minutes.
“We just tried to do what we had done all game and the six month prior tonight,” Tigers forward Kyle Willis said. “But he just made a good shot.”
Josh Repine was the player who sealed Holy Family’s fate, sending the Sun Devils against top-seed Faith Christian in the championship 7 p.m. tonight. But before the guard gave Kent (14-11) its final lead of the game, it was Matt Pettyjohn who perhaps made the play of the game.
Both teams spit the ball up left and right, with the Sun Devils finishing with 17 turnovers and Holy Family with 12. Kent almost made it 18 until Pettyjohn saved the possession, snatching the ball on the side of the court and calling timeout before stepping out of bounds.
The heads-up play set up the go-ahead basket, sending Kent back to the finals for the first time since 2007.
The turn of fortune was a whirlwind for Holy Family. The night before the team pulled the upset of the tournament by knocking off second-seeded Colorado Springs Christian.
“It’s definitely been emotional in both ways,” said Willis, who along with Tanner Stuhr finished with a game-high 10 points. “Last night was great and tonight it’s hard. It’s hard to put that much into something and have it shot down.”
Holy Family has a shot at collecting third-place when it faces fourth-seeded Valley 4 p.m. today at Moby. But the team has a few questions it must answer before it retakes the floor.
The No. 1 query is how to maintain a sustained offensive attack.
The Tigers’ anemic scoring cost the team in the fourth, with Stuhr’s layup the only points the team scored in the period. Kent’s defense smothered Holy Family’s attack at every turn.
“We had a tough time attacking their 2-3 zone,” Holy Family coach Pete Villecco said. “We shot 11-of-39, you’re not going beat a team like that shooting that way.”
Things had appeared brighter earlier in the half.
Holy Family’s biggest problem late in the game was breaking Kent’s zone defense. The team only scored two points in the fourth off a Stuhr layup. But even then, the team just could not build a head of steam.
“We still have a great opportunity, playing a great team like Valley,” said Villecco, whose team only won seven games in 2011. “We’re going to regroup and see what we can do.”
Kent 29, Holy Family 26
At Moby Arena
Holy Family (16-10)
Hollwedel 1 0-0 3, Stuhr 5 0-2 10, R. Willis 1 0-0 2, Sprenger 0 1-2 1, K. Willis 4 2-4 10. 11 3-8 26.
Kent Denver (14-11)
Boatman 2 0-1 4, Tills 0 2-2 2, Soderberg 1 0-0 3, Repine 1 2-2 4, Jones 3 2-2 8, Hanley 1 0-0 3, Lane 2 1-2 5.
Score by quarters:
Holy Family 4 9 11 2 — 26
Kent Denver 4 8 9 8 — 29
3-point field goals — Holy Family (1): Hollwedel; Kent Denver (2): Hanley, Soderberg. Total fouls — Holy Family 13, Kent Denver 8. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — none.