FORT COLLINS — In a contest in which momentum seemingly transferred on every possession, it was tough to get a feel for which team would escape Moby Arena with its championship ambitions still intact.
Pardon spectators from both sides if they had to take one final glance at the scoreboard to make sure it was a reality: Holy Family 39, Denver School of Science and Technology 38.
The Tigers had to wince twice in the final 5 seconds as the Knights threatened to steal the Class 3A semifinal, but alas could breathe easy when Jaelynn Smith’s half-court attempt missed at the buzzer.
“‘Please don’t go in, please don’t go in.’ That’s all I was thinking,” Tigers reserve forward Maggie Spitzer said. “With everything we worked for, we needed to get a win.”
Smith also missed the potential tying and go-ahead foul shots with 5 seconds left, and Spitzer rebounded. But Spitzer missed the front end of a 1-and-1, allowing Smith to rebound, dart to midcourt and attempt the last-second shot.
When it fell short, Holy Family (21-5) had its 14th straight win at the Colorado State-based arena. The No. 2 Tigers will take on No. 4 St. Mary’s Saturday night (7:30 p.m.) in quest of their fifth title in six seasons.
“Should be a real good game,” Holy Family coach Ron Rossi said. “It’s a contrast of styles. They have a style they play, we have a style we play, and it’s who’s will that will win.”
Lindsey Chavez scored 10 points for the Tigers, including the go-ahead bucket with just under a minute to play. She took a feed from Claudia Pena and knifed to the hole, scoring with the left hand.
Chavez’s 3 from the top of the key earlier in the quarter was part of a 7-0 run that gave the Tigers a 36-35 lead just as DSST was threatening to run away. On that one, her sister, freshman point guard Katie Chavez, rebounded her own miss and found her spotted up at one of her favorite spots on the court.
“My reflex was to get the basketball and Lindsey was setting herself up for the perfect shot,” said Katie Chavez, who scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. “I knew she’d make it.”
With DSST (23-3) limiting the Chavez sisters early, Holy Family got solid production from Spitzer. She averages 3.2 points a game, but scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter, which helped allow the Tigers to take a 20-19 lead to the locker room.
“We always talk about that, if you’re a substitute, you never know when your time is going to come,” Rossi said. “You just better be ready, and Maggie stepped it up.”
Added Spitzer: “When they’re covering the Chavezes, we all have to step up when they do that.”
Micaela Blanchard (six points, eight rebounds) also was solid off the bench for the Tigers.
Smith led the Knights with 14 points as the Tigers limited talented sisters Bailee and Bradlee Cotton to a combined 2-for-20 shooting. Each fouled out in the final minute.
The Knights roared out to a quick 5-0 lead on the opening two possessions, prompting Rossi to call a timeout. But Holy Family soon gathered itself and weathered DSST’s opening burst.
“We’ve gone through this, with having bad starts in a couple of games,” Katie Chavez said. “We know how to keep our intensity, settle down and not get too frazzled.”
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Holy Family 39, Denver School of Science & Technology 38
At Moby Arena
DENVER SS&T (23-3)
Smith 5 4-11 14, Ramey 4 0-0 9, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Ba. Cotton 2 4-5 9, Br. Cotton 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Groves 2 0-0 4, Bourlakov 0 0-0 0, Soto 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-17 38.
HOLY FAMILY (21-5)
K. Chavez 2 3-6 8, L. Chavez 4 0-0 10, Quinn 0 0-0 0, McGillin 2 0-0 4, Pena 0 2-3 2, Silverstein 0 0-0 0, Jaros 0 0-0 0, Spitzer 3 3-4 9, Blanchard 3 0-0 6. Totals 14 8-15 39.
Score by quarters:
Denver SS&T 9 10 12 7 — 38
Holy Family 7 13 9 10 — 39
3-point field goals — Denver SS&T (2): Ramey, Ba. Cotton; Holy Family (3): L. Chavez 2, K. Chavez. Total fouls — Denver SS&T 18, Holy Family 17. Fouled out — Ba. Cotton, Br. Cotton. Technical fouls — None.