HIGHLANDS RANCH — Welcome to big school basketball, Holy Family.
The Tigers knew what was coming. The good thing for them is that a majority of their opponents don’t.
“I think they were a little shocked that we can play basketball,” Holy Family coach Ron Rossi said of his opponents from Class 5A Pine Creek on Tuesday night in the opening game of the ThunderRidge/Castle View Tournament. “We are using that to our advantage, it’s definitely going to be a David vs. Goliath kind of deal all year long.”
Holy Family, ranked No. 7 in the preseason Class 4A poll released by CHSAANow.com, weathered a tough shooting night and puled away from Pine Creek in the fourth quarter for a 49-37 win. The Tigers will play ThunderRidge, ranked 10th in 5A, on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Holy Family watched its 21-14 halftime lead disappear in the third quarter. The much bigger Eagles (0-1) outscored Holy Family 16-10 in the quarter and grabbed the lead for a brief stint when sophomore Emma List put them up 28-26.
“This club is more experienced than a lot of people think we are, I’ve got three and half starters back,” Rossi said. “Those three have been part of two state championships and the are integral to what we do and they know how to play and to compete.
“The game is still the same game in 4A, it’s just going to be more physical and (Pine Creek) was one of the more physical clubs we will see.”
One of the biggest returners to the Holy Family lineup is junior Katie Chavez, and once the Tigers built their lead early in the fourth quarter to 41-32, Rossi was quick to play the stall game — in fact it started with six and half minutes to play — and keep the ball in her hands.
Chavez finished with 24 points and went to the line often in the fourth quarter, going 9 for 10 at the charity stripe, to ice the game.
“She was really smart and she drew a lot of those fouls,” Rossi said. “When we got the lead, I went into (the stall) with six minutes and I took the air out and you’ve got to chase me. The rule hasn’t changed, and I can do that and I’ve got a girl that is experienced at doing it.”
Said Chavez: “We are just trying to find out chemistry again, but towards the end, we finally found it.”
At one point during the third quarter, the Tigers had two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior on the floor and didn’t skip a beat.
Holy Family got contributions from several players, including a big 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter from Natalie Gardon. Casey Griggs hit key free throws down the stretch and sophomore Leah Schwartz, in her first varsity game, finished with three 3-pointers and 11 total points.
“The great part is, is that we all lead in our own way,” said Chavez, who finished with four steals. “I’m excited to see how this season unfolds. It’s all so new, and some of these girls are so young, but they are hungry to learn and just working so hard both on and off the court.”
Nobody on Pine Creek reached double figures and the Eagles were led by List’s eight points. Courtney Stanton chipped in with six for Pine Creek.
Broomfield is also in the tournament and defeated Doherty 72-25 in the late game at Castle View High School.
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Holy Family 49, Pine Creek 37
At ThunderRidge H.S.
HOLY FAMILY (1-0)
Katie Chavez 6 11-13 24, Casey Griggs 0 2-5 2, Leah Schwartz 3 2-2 11, Jalyn Hall 0 0-0 0, Isabelle Hren 0 0-0 0, Megan McGillin 1 2-3 4, Julia Giltner 0 0-0 0, Maggie Spitzer 2 0-0 5, RaeAnne Torres 0 0-0 0, Natalie Gardon 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 17-23 49.
PINE CREEK (0-1)
Mikayla McKeehan 0 0-0 0, Jayne Lydiatt 0 2-2 2, Mackenzie Collins 2 0-0 4, Caitlin Esterle 2 0-0 4, Jade Odom 2 0-1 4, Spencer Lindsey 2 0-2 5, Shannon Danda 1 2-2 4, Emma List 4 0-0 8, Courtney Stanton 3 0-2 6.
Score by quarters:
Holy Family (1-0) 7 14 10 18 — 49
Pine Creek (0-1) 6 8 16 7 — 37
3-point field goals — Holy Family (6): Schwartz 3, Chavez, Spitzer, Gardon; Pine Creek (1): Lindsey. Total fouls — Holy Family 12; Pine Creek 24. Fouled out — Lydiatt, Lindsey, List.