State basketball: Class 4A semifinals game capsules

Mead, Longmont boys and Holy Family girls all set for Final Four home games Thursday

Mead High School head coach Darin Reese reacts to a call during a game against Holy Family High School on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Longmont, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
Mead High School head coach Darin Reese reacts to a call during a game against Holy Family High School on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Longmont, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

For several teams still alive in the Class 4A state basketball tournaments, unfinished business represents a common thread. That includes teams outside the coverage area, too.

Thursday’s semifinals games will surely jog a few memories for Holy Family’s girls and Mead’s boys teams and, truth be told, the Mullen girls just as much.

Holy Family and Mullen hoopsters were ready to face each other in the 2020 state tournament championship game before the then-novel coronavirus really started to flip the world upside-down. Likewise, the Mead boys had prepared themselves for a semifinals showdown with Northfield before being told the rest of the tournament was a no-go.

Those who didn’t graduate from said teams in 2020 now are playing for those that did. Championship berths are once again on the line, and this time there is a little more understanding that teams will be able to see things through to the end and gold trophies will be handed out on Sunday night at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.

For the local teams to reach Sunday — that includes the Longmont boys, too — it’ll take defending the home courts one more time. The Tigers, Mavericks and Trojans all get to host this time around, and even if only a few can physically attend, many more eyes will be watching and cheering through various streaming platforms.

Here are a few notes about each matchup:

Class 4A girls semifinal: No. 4 Mullen (15-2) at No. 1 Holy Family (13-1)
Thursday at HFHS, 4:30 p.m.
Notable: What’s scarier than a Mullen team whose only losses are to Class 5A semifinalist Grandview? Well, not much, really. The Mustangs were perhaps better deserving of a higher seed, but alas — last year’s championship game teams a battling one round early. … Mullen averages 70.7 points per game and has only allowed 33.5 against mostly 5A competition, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with the talent the Mustangs have shown. They were pegged as the top team in 4A at the outset of the season and have done little to disappoint. … Neither has Holy Family, who earned the No. 1 seed for the tournament with 11 straight wins in tow after a season-opening loss to Lutheran. The Tigers average 67 points a game and have been just as disciplined on defense allowing just 35 per contest. … Leaders for Mullen: Gracie Gallegos (16.4 points per game), Megan Pohs (11.9 ppg) and Alexa Dominguez (9.2 ppg, 6.1 rebounds per game); For Holy Family: Alyssa Wells (14.7 ppg, 5.5 steals per game), Tyler Whitlock (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.0 spg) and Dylan Sanders (6.1 ppg, 4.2 assists per game).
Quotable: “They have unfinished business and they want to get rid of the ‘un-‘ and just have a finish. We worked hard this year to win the league, and in position now to get in the finals. We just feel like (Mullen) is one of the better teams in the state, 4A or 5A, and you got to play them sooner or later.” — Ron Rossi, Holy Family head basketball coach

Class 4A boys semifinal: No. 9 Pueblo South (15-2) at No. 5 Mead (13-3) 
Thursday at MHS, 6 p.m.
Notable: The Mead Mavericks are the only semifinal team back from last year, but that’s not to say the other remaining teams are entirely fresh to the scene. Pueblo South was a 2018 semifinalist — though none of the current roster were on varsity for that season. The Colts’ head coach also is not the same as then, as former girls coach Shannan Lane was hired to take the reigns of the boys team starting this season. In guiding PSHS to upset wins over No. 8 seed Erie and No. 1 seed Windsor (by an 86-70 score, no less), she has obviously pulled the right strings so far this postseason. For Mead, a long journey back to the Final Four was sewn up Tuesday with an inspiring and determined effort at Lewis-Palmer in which the Mavs trailed big early before rallying past the Rangers in a big way. A combined 39 points from Elijah Knudsen and James Shiers helped, but it was a team effort with hustle and might that pushed MHS past LPHS without the services of starting point guard Nick Basson. Mead will need to find that inner strength once again against a hot team. Leaders for Pueblo South: Tarrance Austin (24.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.9 spg), Maurice Austin (12.7 ppg, 7.2 apg) and Ray Aragon (12.6 ppg); For Mead: Knudsen (18.9 ppg, 3.3 apg), Shiers (11.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 4.1 blocks per game), Basson (injured; 10.8 ppg) and Marcus Santiago (7.2 ppg, 2.1 apg).
Quotable: “Pueblo South is dang tough. They’ve beat a couple of our league opponents already, so we’ve got to get ready.” — Darin Reese, Mead head basketball coach

Class 4A boys semifinal: No. 3 Montrose (17-0) at No. 2 Longmont (14-2)
Thursday at LHS, 7 p.m.
Notable: Since 2015, the Longmont Trojans have made the semifinals five times, while Montrose hasn’t been this far since 1992. On paper, that’s a David-vs.-Goliath matchup, with Goliath managing to know the surroundings in which the battle will take place, too. But Montrose is undefeated for a reason — the Indians are excellent defensively (39 points allowed on average for the season) and they’ve proven themselves with wins of 14 points or more twice out of three playoff games. Longmont’s numbers overall look very similar, as it allows just 38.6 points a game and have won by 12 and 14 points in the past two rounds. Living up to high standards and buying in to coaching philosophy continues to benefit the Trojans, and a second state title for head coach Jeff Kloster is right within reach. Leaders for Montrose: Luke Hutto (15.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Fletcher Cheezum (10.1 ppg, 2.2 apg) and Trey Reese (9.9 ppg, 4.9 apg); For Longmont: Eddie Kurjak (18.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg), Keegan Patterson (13.6 ppg, 2.3 apg) and Brendan Barcewski (4.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Quotable: “They punched first in the first quarter but before the game, we talked about making sure we would punch back. We made sure to execute and I thought it was a great game from start to finish. We were upset last year in the Elite Eight, so it’s good to finally get one.” — Eddie Kurjak after Tuesday’s win against Pueblo Central