BROOMFIELD — With 22 seconds remaining Saturday, No. 13 seed Holy Family had the ball with a chance to tie its Class 4A second round basketball game and send the contest to overtime.
It seemed an improbable situation as early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers were down by 15 points and every time they appeared to gain some momentum, No. 20 Discovery Canyon took it away.
After battling back to pull within one possession, Holy Family called a timeout to set up a game-tying play. However, the Tigers couldn’t get a clear look after several passes and a last-second 3-point attempt went off the rim, ending a valiant comeback and their season with a 53-50 loss at home Saturday.
“We were trying to screen in and we needed to get a skip pass or swing it back to Rocco Bridges,” Holy Family head coach Peter Villecco said. “It wasn’t there and then we had to make a play from there. We call it ‘Denver’ and they took it away.”
After playing from behind since midway through the first quarter, the Tigers (14-10) looked like they wouldn’t have enough to pull off a fourth-quarter comeback. A 3-pointer by the Thunder less than a minute into the final period gave them a 42-27 lead.
Even midway through the fourth, Discovery Canyon led 53-39. But that is when Holy Family began to chip away at the Thunder lead.
“We have been fighters as a team since the beginning of the season,” Holy Family senior Jackson Ward said. “We just kept fighting. We didn’t give up on it. We don’t change anything in our heads. We just keep fighting as a team. That’s all it was.”
Holy Family scored seven straight points to cut the Discovery Canyon lead to 53-46 before the Thunder had a chance to extend their lead at the free throw line. But the Thunder missed a pair from the stripe and a three-point play by Holy Family’s Grayden Harkness made it 53-49.
Gabe Tafoya made 1-of-2 free throws for the TIgers to cut the Thunder lead to one. After getting a turnover, Villecco called timeout to set up the final play.
“That just says a lot about the character of our team,” Villecco said. “One thing you can say about our team is they fight. We haven’t played good basketball in the last month. But they are a resilient group and they showed that until the final buzzer.”
Early in the game, the Tigers struggled offensively and had trouble keeping Discovery Canyon’s 6-foot-8 forward Aiden Prechtel from having his way around the rim.
Holy Family scored just six points in the first quarter and had 16 at halftime while Prechtel had eight of his 17 points in the first quarter and at half. The Tigers trailed 25-16 at halftime and 39-25 at the end of the third quarter.
“We had a hard time playing through their zone,” Villecco said. “Then we turned the ball over 13 times in the first half. That hurts. They have good length and athleticism and they made it hard to score. (Prechtel) is tough and he got a lot of easy ones at the rim. He’s a good player.”
Multiple times in the third quarter and even early in the fourth, Holy Family cut the Discovery Canyon lead from double digits to single digits. But every time, the Thunder responded with a big play.
Discovery Canyon (15-10) advanced to the Sweet 16 to face undefeated Montrose.