BROOMFIELD – It was a good night for basketball at Holy Family on Tuesday.
Both the boys and girls squads won first-round playoff contests in the Class 4A state tournament. The No. 12-seeded Holy Family boys won 67-56 over No. 21 Grand Junction and the top-seeded girls rolled past No. 32 Frederick, 64-41.
While any playoff win is a special event, sweeping a postseason doubleheader was made more special by the Tigers doing it in front of a small group of fans, something that wasn’t considered a possibility until just recently.
“It’s nice to have the student section and the fans in the stands and to play for them,” Tigers junior Jackson Ward said. “It’s been a lot different than when we didn’t have them at the beginning of the season and it’s great to have them back. There was a lot on the line and the fans gave us a higher spirit, knowing that we had to win this game if we wanted to play another one.”
In the boys game, Holy Family (10-5) never led Grand Junction (9-6) by more than nine points until there was only 17 seconds left in the game. Ward (13.6 ppg) was a force, scoring a game-high 28 points including 18 of the Tigers’ 27 points in the first half that paced his team to a three-point halftime lead. Senior Connor Cooney scored all of his 12 points in the second half.
“It’s the postseason and everyone’s good,” Holy Family head coach Pete Villecco said. “They play at a really slow pace and we wanted to speed them up. The second half was the pace we wanted to play. And Connor Cooney, his competitiveness was the difference. He got big deflections and got to the rim. He’s just a senior making plays.
“It’s been a heck of a year. Holy cow, we’ve played 15 games. This group has gotten better every game and we hope it doesn’t end.”
Tuesday’s win sets up a rematch with conference rival Mead in the Sweet 16. The Tigers defeated fifth-seeded Mead, 67-58, during the regular season.
HFHS girls cruise past Warriors
In the girls’ half of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the No. 1-seeded Tigers pulled ahead early didn’t play their starters much in the second half. Planning a return to the Final Four, where the Tigers advanced before last season’s playoffs were canceled because of the global pandemic, the Tigers (11-1) outscored the Warriors (7-8), 30-8, in the first half and had four players score in double figures.
Freshman guard Essynce Contreraz led the Tigers with 13 points off the bench. Senior Alyssa Wells, who averages a team-high 15.2 points, scored 12 points. Tyler Whitlock scored 10 points, all in the first half. Daniella Hren also scored 10 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers during a 23-point quarter for the Tigers.
“This year is a little different,” Tigers senior Tyler Whitlock said. “Being the No. 1, we have to come out with that intensity every game and play to that level otherwise if we are not taking it seriously then we are probably going to get into some trouble.”
Megan Majeres led Frederick with 12 points and Ali Davis scored eight.
The Holy Family girls will play No. 17 Roosevelt in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.