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Boys basketball: Nellis dazzles as Holy Family holds off Centaurus

The senior point guard had 11 points and a number of spectacular assists

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Jackson Ward (No. 22) puts in a basket past Centaurus High School's defense in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Nathan Davis (No. 5) blocks a shot from Holy Family High School's Dominic Nelllis (No. 1) during the game in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Garrett Green (No. 23) shoots past Centaurus High School's Ryan Vaver (No. 1) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Garrett Green (No. 23) and Centaurus High School's Owen Koonce (No. 11) battle for the ball under the basket in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Jacob VanHandel (No. 24) shoots from three point range in the game against Centaurus High School in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's (No. 23) puts up a shot between Centaurus High School's Dashiel Walker (No. 15) and Mario Everett (No. 3) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Cole Greany (No. 10) tries to put up a shot past Centaurus High School's Mario Everett (No. 3) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Nathan Davis (No. 5) tries to block an inbound pass from Holy Family High School in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Owen Koonce (No. 11) drives around Holy Family High School's Blake Hammond (No. 5) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Blake Hammond (No. 5) collides with Centaurus High School's Owen Koonce (No. 11) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Mario Everett (No. 3) drives around Holy Family High School's Dominic Nelllis (No. 1) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family High School's Blake Hammond (No. 5) and Cole Greany (No. 10) try to box out Centaurus High School's Owen Koonce (No. 11) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Owen Koonce (No. 11) shoots over Holy Family High School's Blake Hammond (No. 5) in Broomfield on Dec. 19, 2019.

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BROOMFIELD — Standing an unassuming 5-foot-7, Holy Family point guard Dominic Nellis knows how to pack a punch.

Pristine vision, a confidence fueled by a background in boxing — whatever it is, with Nellis leading an inexperienced roster, the Tigers feel like there’s always a fighting chance.

“With him still on our team we will always have a chance,” said Holy Family coach Pete Villecco, whose team returned only two starters after graduating seven seniors from last season’s state semifinals run (Nellis and Garrett Green). “His heart is just gigantic.”

Nellis scored 11 points and dazzled as a set-up man, Green scored a game-high 17 points and iced the game from the line, and Holy Family held on to beat Centaurus 56-52 Thursday night in the Tigers’ renovated gym.

Holy Family (3-1) led by as many as 15 in the third quarter before the Warriors (6-2), and reigning BoCoPreps.com player of the year Owen Koonce, made a run.

Koonce scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, fueling a 23-9 run to bring the Warriors within one early in the final quarter. But they could never grab a lead.

Green and Nellis swished a pair of free throws to extend their advantage to 52-47 with 43 seconds remaining.  Ryan Vaver, who had nine points for Centaurus, came back and hit his third 3-pointer of the night to bring it within two. Koonce then had a potential game-tying layup waved off because of an offensive foul with 19 seconds to go.

Green eventually salted the game away, going 6-of-8 from the line in the final 68 seconds.

“Me and Garrett started talking about (this season) as soon as we lost to Lewis-Palmer (in last year’s state semifinal),” Nellis said. “We knew we had to prepare for this season because we knew we were going to be underestimated.”

The Tigers pushed their lead to double digits in the second as Jacob Van Handel hit three consecutive 3-pointers — all on assists from Nellis. The point guard yelled “shoot, shoot” as he dished to the wide-open senior on his first from deep, and later Nellis put three fingers up in the air after he slung a cross-court pass to Van Handel with 1:23 left in the half.

“Playing with a guy like him is real easy,” Van Handel said. “I just have to look to get open, and as long as I’m open, he’ll give me the ball.”

Nellis threw another tight-fitting pass inside the paint to Cole Greany in the half’s waning seconds. Greany stumbled between defenders but kept enough balance to kick outside to Connor Cooney, who hit a 3 at the buzzer to push the lead to 32-17. Blake Hammond’s deep ball with 7:07 in the third made it 35-20 before the Warriors’ mounted a comeback.

“From a program that disciplined and well-coached, it’s hard come back from (a large deficit),” Centaurus coach Travis Maron added. “We just didn’t make it there. We didn’t make the plays down the stretch to finish it and they did.”

Holy Family will travel to Pueblo West Saturday. Centaurus won’t play a game until Jan. 7 at Silver Creek.