FORT COLLINS - The Holy Family Lady Tigers have nine lives, at least in the Class 3A state title game they did.
The resilient Tigers overcame two late deficits to beat St. Mary’s 53-48 in a double-overtime thriller to win their fifth state title in six years.
“We never stopped believing in each other,” said Holy Family freshman Katie Chavez, who had 14 points in the win. “Anything can happen if we put our minds to it, and we never gave up.”
The Tigers were down by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, and fell behind by six in overtime. However, the squad rallied to get back on top of the 3A.
Junior center Claudia Pena hit her first trey of the season with 22 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and in the first overtime, seldom-used Jalyn Hall hit a pair of free throws with 11.7 seconds left in force a double-OT.
“Our motto this year was ‘together we are better,’ and this was a good example,” Holy Family coach Ron Rossi said. “The kids just kept believing and believing, and we found a way.”
The Tigers not only found a way they overcame a St. Mary’s squad that had their number earlier this year. The Pirates dealt Holy Family its first loss of the season, a 38-35 defeat at the Tiger Tipoff tournament. But history wasn’t about to repeat itself on Saturday.
“Today’s theme was: ‘We are going to make the Pirates walk the plank,’ “ Rossi said.
St. Mary’s made it tough on Holy Family in the second half, going on an 11-1 run and keeping the Tigers without a field goal for nearly six minutes. However, the Tigers turned up their intensity and chipped away at the Pirates’ lead.
Monica Stokes hit a pair of free throws and Lindsey Chavez, who received the MVP honors, hit a pair of three-pointers to get the Tigers in striking distance.
In overtime, the Chavez sisters were 9 of 10 from the charity stripe to help the Tigers get back to the pinnacle of 3A. The duo has now helped Holy Family win a state title in both cross-country and basketball.
Holy Family lost to Florence in the Sweet 16 last season, which snapped its four-year reign as the 3A champions.
“It’s an awesome feeling winning two state championships in one year,” Katie Chavez said. “I’m so glad I got to share this experience with my sister.”
Lindsey Chavez led the scoring attack for the Tigers in the state title with 22 points, hitting five treys in the game. Pena also had seven for Holy Family.
Maggie Hartman and Nicole Niles each had 12 points for St. Mary’s, while senior Gabi Florek added 10.
Holy Family made it to the state title after beating Trinidad 44-28 in the Great 8 and then squeaking by Denver School of Science and Technology 39-38 in the Final Four round.
Lindsey Chavez led the way in both games with 19 points against Trinidad and 10 against DSST.
Graduating for the Tigers were Stoke, Kailey Silverstein and Michela Blanchard.