Boys basketball: Holy Family set to continue where it left off

Austin Brown (right) is one of several key players returning for defending 3A state champion Holy Family, which moves to 4A this year.
Paul Aiken / Daily Camera
Austin Brown (right) is one of several key players returning for defending 3A state champion Holy Family, which moves to 4A this year.

BROOMFIELD — A majority of coaches will tell you, especially in the high school world, that whatever happened last year is already forgotten when the new season begins.

In the case of Holy Family, the Tigers’ run to the Class 3A state title serves as a reminder of what not only coach Pete Villecco has built at the school but also what the current core of players is still capable of.

“One, it gave us confidence. Two, it showed our guys that we can play and have success against good competition. Three, this summer we played a lot of 4A and 5A competition and we felt good about it,” said Villecco, who enters his fifth season as coach of the Tigers. “But we have hit reset on last year and we don’t really talk about it all that much. It’s been a positive thing as far as confidence but we’ve hit reset and the whole 4A thing and what we did last year, The timing is really good because so much is new.”

Holy Family makes the jump to Class 4A with a championship formula in mind and the respect of coaches all over the state. In one of the first preseason polls to be released by CHSAANow. com, which is voted on by coaches around the state, the Tigers were ranked No. 8.

Holy Family will play in the new-look Tri-Valley League, where the Tigers are the odds-on favorite to earn that crown.

Why the love for the Tigers, especially after they lost several key components to graduation?

It’s quite simple, really. The system is in place and they have the players to get it done. Key pieces, like Chris Helbig, Austin Brown, Luke Golter, Alex Comeaux and Nick Kreutzer have a championship pedigree and understand what it takes to compete at the highest level.

“I’m looking forward to it and I think it’ll help us out. We may get beat up every once and a while, but it’ll make us better eventually,” said Helbig, a junior who will be good to go when the season starts on Friday at Niwot after injuring his shoulder late in the football season.

“It’s probably more mental (the jump to 4A), and I think we’ve done all right with it. We understand that it is just a game and we know what we are capable of if we come out and play our game like we did last year. We are just going to try and come out and continue to do what we started last year and we’ll se how it goes.”

Holy Family’s non-league schedule is fantastic and is what will ultimately make them a better team as the season progresses. After opening with Niwot, the Tigers will travel to Fort Collins to play in a tournament that is stocked with 5A competition, including No. 9 Rangeview.

“They are going to be huge. Coach did a great job of scheduling some games against some great teams. We have a couple of huge ones against Longmont and D’Evelyn that are gong to be tough and huge for us. But I’m glad he scheduled the competition that he did,” Brown said. “We are going to take it one game at a time and not try to single anyone out and just focus on the very next game. We are never looking two or three games ahead, we are always focused on the one that we are on.”

Holy Family will get one home game in December against 4A No. 5 D’Evelyn and the match-up against preseason 4A No. 1 Longmont will have to wait until early February.

The strength of the Tigers remains the same. A stout defensive team with depth that will certainly get better as the season plays out and guys learn their roles.

“I think we are going to have to build our depth, especially defensively. We lost Dev (Devlin Granberg), we lost Ryan (Willis) and we lost Dave (Sommers) and those were three pretty key guys on defense and we are going to have to build on that,” Golter said. “We may not be quite as athletic as we were last year, but I think if we just keep grinding at it defensively that we can get to where we got last year and we do have guys coming off the bench that are weapons”

Villecco is confident that if his team does what they do well, and he admits, they may take a few lumps along the way, they should be just fine and in contention when the playoffs arrive.

“We are a defensive team because our kids know that we have the most control over that end of the floor, so we want to be a defensive first team,” Villecco said. “We are a pass-first team, we are a reversal team and we have a really unselfish group, but we also know where our key guys are and we want to get those guys the most shots.”

Follow Jon on Twitter: