Metthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
BROOMFIELD — Each with one loss in league play and identical 14-2 records on the season, Class 4A No. 3 Mead and No. 7 Holy Family went into their Friday night matchup at Holy Family anticipating an epic clash.
It proved to be a defensive battle with the Tigers eventually coming out on top, 46-33, putting them in the driver’s seat for the 5A/4A Northern League’s No. 2 seed. Both teams’ only league loss prior to Friday’s meeting was to league-leading and the No. 1 team in the state, Windsor.
“We worked really hard on a defensive plan that we had to do,” Holy Family head coach Ron Rossi said. “They were averaging 68 points a game, so we knew we had to control the transition and not turn the ball over against their press and then we knew we just needed to get out on their shooters. I thought we did a good job of getting at their shooters. We controlled the glass, that was an important part of the game, too.”
The Mavericks’ only lead of the game was 2-0 before Holy Family went on a 6-0 run and never trailed again. The Tigers held Mead to only two first-quarter field goals and led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Holy Family continued its swarming defense in the second quarter, forcing turnovers and drawing fouls, especially late in the period. Sophomore Essynce Contreraz played a big role in the Tigers extending their lead by making all eight of her first-half free throws, including Holy Family’s last six points before halftime.
“All I know is to just focus on the rim and shoot it, ever since I was little,” Contreraz said. “You just play in your own arena. When you are on that court, you don’t think about anything outside that court. You just play your game and play with your team and that is all we did, honestly. Not only did I hit my free throws, but everyone else hit their free throws, which is what we needed to do to win this game.”
Contreraz finished with 16 points, including a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter when the Mavericks managed to make a dent in the Tigers’ lead.
Holy Family led 26-18 going into the fourth quarter and extended their lead to 36-20 after Contreraz’s 3-pointer. Mead got three 3-pointers from Edie Morrow, two of which helped cut the Tigers’ lead to nine, but Contreraz and Mariah Quintana converted four free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the victory.
“That was a big win, honestly,” Contreraz said. “We had been looking forward to this game ever since the Windsor game. Our team has been growing, but that was a big win for us. We needed that win to keep the season going.”
Darby Haley led the Mavericks with 10 points as the Tigers held Mead to a season-low 33 points. Makenna Bertsch had nine for Holy Family.
Holy Family (15-2, 7-1) will be back in action Saturday with a nonleague matchup with Sand Creek. Mead will host Pueblo West in nonleague action Saturday.