AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Last year in the Class 3A boys state basketball tournament, Holy Family was given a lesson by Eaton.
The Tigers, who came in as the top-seeded team in this year’s edition, have a different mind-set.
They jumped out to a 14-0 lead in Thursday’s quarterfinals and kept building as they advanced to the semis with a convincing 70-40 victory over Brush.
“We were definitely prepared,” junior guard Luke Golter said.
Were they ever. He was among the leaders in that aspect.
Golter was electric from the outside, nailing a trio of 3-pointers en route to a game-high 23 points.
“We’ve been talking about playing in the big arena,” Tigers coach Pete Villecco said of preparing for the Great 8 at the Air Force Academy.
Holy Family had played in the previous two state tournaments but is still seeking the state title. They got off to a strong start not only by scoring quickly.
“We told the kids to find their feet,” Villecco said of focusing on shooting form.
They also did it by forcing Bruch into misses on its first nine tries.
“Win every possession – that’s what our mind-set is,” Golter said.
Golter washardly the only offensive contributor for the Tigers. Ryan Willis had 18 points, 12 coming from beyond the arc, and Chris Helbig added 11.
“We have so many weapons,” Golter said.
Holy Family’s boys and girls teams both come in as the top seeds in the Great 8. That, Velleccio said, is great for the school.
“The spirit in the building is at an all-time high,” Velleccio said.
It’s given both teams motivation. Golter said that what the boys team needs to keep the run going.
“Just play with the same swagger,” he said of the goal of keeping the confidence level up.
The Tigers play Colorado Springs Christian at 5:30 in Friday evening’s first boys semifinal.
“Our expectations are that we’re going to work our tails off,” Velleccio vowed.
Colorado Academy 67, Moffat County 62
The Class 3A boys state basketball tournament kicked off with a barnburner at the Air Force Academy Thursday morning.
Colorado Academy overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to overtake Moffat County down the stretch 67-62.
The lead changed hands three times in the final minute and a half with Chris Kuelling’s 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining giving the Mustangs the lead for good. Colorado Academy sealed the win with a steal and basket by Christian Hyatt with seconds remaining.
Jack Buckmelter led the Mustangs with 28 points, offsetting a matching performance by Moffat County’s Kort Hathhorn.
Colorado Springs Christian 69, Denver Science & Tech 49
With three scorers in double figures, the Lions stretched a 32-19 halftime lead into a comfortable victory.
Justin Engesser paced the Lions with 17 points; Dante Fewell added 12 and Nic Doherty 11.
Deron Harrell led all scorers with 19 for the Knights while Nathaniel Cox chipped in 16.
Faith Christian 50, Manitou Springs 30
The Eagles led throughout, holding an eight-point halftime advantage which grew to 37-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Two players were particularly dominant on the offensive end, Gabriel Hegarty scoring from the outside and Grant Harkness doing damage underneath. Hegarty led all scorers with 13 points; Harkness chipped in 12 and pulled down a game-high six rebounds.
Chase Megyeri paced the Mustangs with 12 points and five boards.
Faith Christian goes up against Colorado Academy in Friday’s late semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Manitou Springs and Moffat County play a 1:15 p.m. consolation game.