DENVER – By limiting Eagle Ridge Academy’s ability to score in the first half, Holy Family broke the Warriors’ will. By running away to a 65-41 win in the Class 4A boys basketball Final 4, the Tigers broke their spirit.

Now Holy Family gets a chance to to play for a state title for the first time since 2014 when it beat Colorado Academy to win the 3A crown.

Eric Quintana led the way with 16 points as the Tigers thoroughly dominated the game from start to finish. Jaxon Grable also broke into double figures with 15 points. The offense was efficient enough as the Tigers (16-11 overall) shot 45.7% from the field. But the big numbers that will stand out are the defensive figures.

The Tigers led ERA 22-8 at halftime. The Warriors (21-6) made just four field goals in the entire first half, none of which were 3-pointers. Perhaps more impressively, ERA guard Hunter Hill was virtually ineffective.

“He’s their most dangerous, Hunter Hill, heck of a player,” coach Peter Villecco said. “Grayden Harkness does a lot of dirty work for us and he was fantastic today [on defense].”

The Tigers entered the 4A state tournament as the No. 17 seed and have beaten a higher seeded team in every round. That includes wins over No. 1 Kent Denver, No. 8 Colorado Academy and now No. 4 Eagle Ridge Academy.

The Tigers haven’t been nervous or fearful at any point during this state tournament and each win only fuels their confidence moving forward.

“We’re pretty confident right now,” Villecco said. “But everyone is really good right now.”

As much as Holy Family dominated the first half defensively, they owned the second half on offense. They put up 43 points in the final 16 minutes which is helpful when the other team isn’t scoring.

As shots were falling, the Tigers were gaining confidence and feeling the growing excitement of advancing to the state title game.

“You never really feel it until that clock hits four zeros,” Quintana said. “Going into it, you always have confidence in your teammates and it’s that relationship we have. We always talk about this.”

Villecco was excited about the prospect of one more practice with his team. He’ll savor that moment before bringing his team back to the Denver Coliseum to go for its first state title in nine years.


(2) Resurrection Christian 64, (6) Lutheran 53

(Dan Mohrmann/

Heading into its Final 4 showdown with Lutheran, Resurrection Christian coach Ryan Yoder needed his team to understand what the regular season win over the Lions meant at that very moment.

Very simply, he made sure his Cougars knew that they had proven their ability to beat their opponent because they had already done it. That couldn’t be said the other way around.

It was that confidence and that belief that power Rez’s 64-53 win, punching their ticket to the 4A boys title game where they’ll face Holy Family.

“I told our team this week that we know we can beat them because we’ve done it,” Yoder said. “They only think they can beat us. But we still have to be humble and hungry because they’re going to be humble and hungry.”

That was the case in the first half as the Cougars (22-4) built a 12-point lead. Ty Yoder scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the first two quarters. The team overall shot very well, going 50% from the floor and also 50% from 3-point range.

Where they needed to thrive in the second half was on the free throw line. Rez led 43-28 going into the fourth and the Lions (18-9) weren’t shy about their plan to foul and extend the game to increase their chances to battle back.

“We knew we had to hit free throws and we’re one of the best free throw shooting teams in the state,” Ty Yoder said. “Some didn’t fall, I missed two I think. But we knew we could knock them down.”

The Cougars made 26 of their 33 free throws for the game. Twenty-seven of those attempts came in the fourth quarter.

Getting to the state championship game looked tough early in the season as the Cougars dropped three straight games to start the year. Since then they’ve won 23 of their last 24 contests, the lone loss coming against Eaton.

“We played a tough schedule,” Ryan Yoder said. “We played the No. 1 team in Wyoming, Cheyenne East. Beat them, by the way. And we played a tough Colorado schedule. Winning 23 of 24 games gives you a lot of confidence.”

On the other bench in the championship game will be a team that has knocked out the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds on the bracket. That team won’t lack for confidence either. Which means there should be some quality play in the 4A boys championship game.