BROOMFIELD — Facing a team with four losses on the season coming by less than five points, it seemed almost inevitable that the Holy Family boys would find a way to sneak past Denver South in the waning minutes of their non-league game on Saturday.
Sure enough, the Tigers fought through six turnovers in the fourth quarter and had a chance to win the game in their final possession, trailing 46-44 with 7.3 seconds left.
This time, however, the Rebels would hang on.
Wega Kinoti’s potential game-winning 3-pointer was on target, but the senior’s shot rimmed off as the buzzer sounded and Holy Family had suffered its second consecutive loss on back-to-back days.
Perhaps more of a lesson-learning experience than a disastrous loss — Friday’s setback against Windsor on the road generally hurt the Tigers a little more as it pertained to league title contention — Holy Family coach Pete Villecco praised South’s athleticism and his own team’s spirit to battle with them despite the quick turnaround between games.
“I was pleased with the competitiveness, especially coming off a tough road game, and that was just a good test for us as we go back into league play,” Villecco said of the contest, which saw the Rebels (7-7) only turn the ball over one time in the second half. “I was pleased with our spirit, and we started the game well and the third quarter well. But we hurt ourselves offensively by not taking care of the ball.
“We turned it over six times in the fourth quarter and you make it hard on yourself when you’re not getting shots off.”
Neither team had a lead bigger than six points the entire game, and Holy Family (7-6) had that advantage at 33-27 late in the third quarter before the turnovers started to creep back into the Tigers’ offensive sets.
The pace quickened to start the fourth frame and it was South’s DoVon’ta Sentmore that was mainly responsible for the Rebels tying the game at 36-36 with 6:18 left. From there the back-and-forth picked up again, but turnovers on back-to-back possessions for Holy Family gave Sentmore a chance to make it 43-40 for South with 3:26 remaining.
Adam Jolly made it 43-42 a short time later, but Jerrico Banks was perfect on two sets of free throws to make it 46-42 with 1:08 left. The Rebels struggled from the free-throw line overall (10-for-23) and had a couple more chances to extend the lead at the line, but a Kyle Helbig putback with 35 seconds left ended up being the last points for either team.
“We feel like we’ve played a lot of good opponents this year and that we’re good for it defensively for each and every one,” Helbig said after scoring 12 points and adding four rebounds. “We wanted to end the game right then (rather than try and tie for overtime), and we got a good shot but just didn’t go down the way we wanted it to.
“They were a good team and had good guards that know how to play. They were able to nail us down.”
Kinoti had 10 points, and he and Helbig were big in helping Holy Family rally from a small halftime deficit. Tanner Baird scored six of his team-high 14 points in the fourth frame. But Holy Family had 13 turnovers for the game whereas South had just eight.
“Wega had a great look at the shot, but that kind of situation is just something we will keep working on in practice,” Villecco said. “It’s mid-January, and you hope that playing a team like Denver South will help in late January, early February and beyond.”
Holy Family is right back in TVL play on Tuesday at Erie.
Denver South 46, Holy Family 44
At Holy Family HS
DENVER SOUTH (7-7)
Azor 2 2-5 7, Sentmore 4 0-1 8, Jones 0 1-2 1, Banks 4 5-12 14, Linzy 1 1-1 3, Carter 1 1-2 3, Curry 5 0-0 10, Majok 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 10-23 46.
HOLY FAMILY (7-6)
Nellis 0 0-0 0, Helbig 4 4-5 12, Becker 1 0-0 2, Baird 5 4-4 14, Pfenning 0 0-0 0, Kinoti 4 0-0 10, Jolly 2 2-2 6, Hunter 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-11 44.
Score by quarters:
3-point field goals — Denver South (2): Azor, Banks; Holy Family (2): Kinoti 2. Technical fouls — Holy Family bench (scorebook).