• Kira Vos / For

    Holy Family's Genevieve Gudino, left, drives to the hoop around Widefield's Makeeda Cato during the fourth quarter of their Class 4A playoff game hosted by the Tigers on Tuesday.

  • Kira Vos / For

    Widefield's MacKenzie King, left, and Holy Family's Cecelia Aanerud fight for possession of the ball during the first quarter of their Class 4A playoff game hosted by the Tigers on Tuesday.

  • Kira Vos / For

    Widefield's Charisse Fairley, left, beats Holy Family's Cydney Pittenger to the rebound during the second quarter of their Class 4A playoff game hosted by the Tigers on Tuesday.

  • Kira Vos / For

    Holy Family students react the the final seconds of their Class 4A playoff game against Widenfield on Tuesday.



BROOMFIELD — Coach Ron Rossi and his Holy Family girls knew exactly what they were up against in the Widefield Gladiators.

Easily one of the hottest teams entering the Class 4A tournament, the Colorado Springs-based Gladiators — with their size, speed and awesome athletic ability — were nowhere near the 15-seed next to their name in the bracket.

On Tuesday night in the Sweet 16, Holy Family fell behind early, rallied late and then just couldn’t hang on in a 59-53 loss that ends their season at 21-4.

“We knew that they were going to be a very good club. They’ve got size, length and quickness and all they needed was just a little momentum,” said Rossi, who nabbed career win No. 475 earlier this season. “They are a really good team and I would expect them to be in the Final Four.”

The Gladiators are just a step away from that goal and will play No. 10 Golden (21-4) — the Demons dispatched of Jeffco League rival D’Evelyn on Tuesday night — on Friday for the right to play at the Denver Coliseum.

Widefield went to the fourth quarter with what felt like an insurmountable 46-38 lead.

But the Tigers slowly chipped away and by the midway point of the fourth quarter had taken their first lead of the game at 51-50 when Amanda Ward knocked down back-to-back free throws.

But the Gladiators didn’t panic or get too wowed by the moment in what turned out to be a raucous and loud gymnasium. On the next possession down MacKenzie King gave Widefield back the lead for good.

“They answered back and we just fouled too much at the end of the game. We fouled the shooter, we fouled the dribbler and put them on the line where they didn’t have to run their offense,” said Rossi, after an emotional postgame session with his team. “That was key to the game and I don’t think they missed very many free throws down the stretch.”

Isabelle Hren, who played her final game for the Tigers and finished with a game-high 23 points, cut the lead back down to 55-53 with 54.5 seconds to go. On the ensuing inbound pass, Paige Giltner stole the ball and had a chance at a layup to tie it and give her team all the momentum, but her shot was altered and rolled off the rim.

The Tigers still had a chance after Aaliyah Rickets missed both her free throws with 43.5 seconds left to keep it a two-point game, but Amanda Ward’s corner 3-pointer was off target and the Gladiators — who were led by senior Charisse Fairly’s 21 points — hauled in the rebound and iced it at the line in the final 20 seconds.

It was a bitter end to wonderful season for the Tigers, who nearly clawed their way out of a big hole in the second half.

“I’m really proud of the kids. We played hard and fought back and had a chance to go ahead,” Rossi said. “I’m not disappointed in the effort, because they played hard. The better team won tonight.”

Jon Yunt: or


At Holy Family


Ferreira 0 0-0 0, Warner 2 3-4 7, Fairly 5 8-8 21, Ricketts 3 5-10 11, Krause 0 0-0 0, Johnson 5 6-8 17, King 1 1-2 3, Bower 0 0-0 0, Cato 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 23-32 59.


McKenzie 0 0-0 0, Gudino 4 0-0 8, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Hren 9 3-3 23, Giltner 2 1-2 6, Gardon 0 0-0 0, Am. Ward 2 6-7 11, Aanerud 1 1-4 3, Pittenger 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 11-16 53.

Score by quarters:


Holy Family8102015—53

3-point field goals — Widefield (4): Fairly 3, Johnson; Holy Family (4): Hren 2, Giltner, Am. Ward. Total fouls — Widefield 17, Holy Family 21. Fouled out — Warner; McKenzie, Gudino.