DENVER – It can be dangerous to attempt to shoot your way to victory at the Denver Coliseum, but Holy Family wasn’t going to let a scoring slump slow its run through the Class 4A playoff bracket.

After trading lengthy droughts with Colorado Academy in the first half, the No. 17 Tigers exploded for a 23-3 third quarter, ultimately beating the No. 8 Mustangs 60-43.

“We talked this whole week about playing in a big arena,” Holy Family coach Peter Villecco said. “Usually, the team that plays off the nose of the rim wins. They’re a bigger team than us, so we had to find ways to get there. These guys made some shots early that helped them relax and gave them some confidence.”

Colorado Academy was scoreless for the first 4 minutes, 8 seconds when Clyde Love knocked down the second of two free throws to end the drought. Tigers’ guard Gabe Tafoya knocked down two 3-pointers for the only points in the early going, with Eric Quintana adding two deep splashes of his own to build a 12-5 lead after one quarter.

in the second quarter, the Mustangs used their slashers and post players to cut the gap to 19-18, capitalizing on a five-minute scoreless stretch for the Tigers.

It wasn’t until the third quarter that Holy Family left no doubt, knocking down five 3-pointers to blow open the game and coupling the offensive outburst with relentless defensive pressure.

“Once we hit one, everybody gets confident,” Tafoya said.

It was Tafoya who paced the Tigers, finishing with 15 points with a trio of 3-pointers. Quintana got all 12 of his points from beyond the arc. Holy Family was 11-for-22 from deep.

The Mustangs were led by George Buyers and Love, who finished with nine points apiece. Colorado Academy was 5-for-19 from deep but shot 50% from the floor.

It’s a continuation of an upset run for the Tigers, who have been underdogs every step of the way in these playoffs. After escaping with a 44-41 victory over No. 16 DSST: Green Valley Ranch, the next round saw Holy Family smack top-seeded Kent Denver 80-53.

“I’m super proud of these guys,” Villecco said. “After we beat Kent Denver on Saturday, we had a great week of preparation that was just on another level. Our confidence is starting to snowball a little bit.”


(4) Eagle Ridge Academy 63, (12) Pueblo Central 57

(Doug Ottewill/

Holding off one furious comeback after another, the Eagle Ridge Academy boys basketball team maintained its slight advantage using its superior length to secure a 63-57 victory over Pueblo Central.

With steals, blocks, dunks, rebounds and back-down basketball, the No. 4 Warriors finally got an edge over the No. 12 Wildcats.

Eagle Ridge opened with a 12-8 lead at the first break, then stretched the advantage as far as nine points on a Hunter Hill dunk roughly 90 seconds before halftime. Pueblo Central counterpunched with a 10-3 run to end the half, capped by a buzzer-beating floater from Ozzy Vigile, that left Eagle Ridge clinging to a 28-24 lead.

Another dunk from Hill — his third of the game — ended a three-minute scoreless spell to start the third for the Warriors and erased Pueblo Central’s first lead of the game to tie it 30-30. The teams traded buckets throughout the third quarter, tied again at 34-34 before an alley-oop dunk by Kyren Allen gave the Eagles a slight edge that they carried to the end of the third quarter.

The Warriors opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run and although the Wildcats repeatedly came within one possession of tying, Eagle Ridge eventually put the game away at the free-throw line.

Hill led the Warriors with 26 points, going 8 for 10 from the free-throw line. Christian Seifert finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Xavier Davis had 26 points to pace the Wildcats.

Eagle Ridge will look to end the Cinderella run of No. 17 Holy Family when they meet in the Final 4 next weekend.