AURORA -- In front of a gathered crowd at the WMDC Building, CHSAA unveiled the 5A boys and girls state basketball tournament brackets during the association's annual Selection Show.
Denver East, Fossil Ridge, Mountain Vista and Overland are the No. 1 seeds in this year's Class 5A boys field. Cherry Creek, Fossil Ridge, Grandview and Regis Jesuit are the No. 1 seeds on the girls side.
"The release of the 5A basketball bracket is one of the most entertaining times of the year," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann, who oversees basketball. "Some schools will get in, some schools won't, and the anticipation heightens the interest of the basketball community."
There wasn't much surprise in the boys' top seeds. Neither Denver East nor Fossil Ridge have lost in Colorado this season. Overland and Mountain Vista, meanwhile, won arguably the toughest conferences in the 5A level -- the Centennial and Continental, respectively.
"Some people might ask, 'Well, East had four losses?'" said Hal Wiebers, the 5A boys seeding committee chair who is a former basketball coach and athletic director at Cañon City. "Some people would look at that and wonder, but they haven't lost in Colorado. And this is a Colorado state tournament."
The Centennial placed all eight members into the tournament, while the Continental also put eight in the field. Both leagues also have four teams with first-round byes.
"They're the two biggest leagues," Wiebers said.
The 5A boys basketball seeding committee made 773 individual or combined observations this season. Each team was seen at least three times.
"One of the things we always have a tough time with is who gets in and who doesn't, because you're cutting somebody out of the tournament," Wiebers said. "There are 63 schools; there's only places for 48 teams. So that takes a considerable amount of time."
The committee laid a lot of the groundwork for the brackets during an eight-hour meeting on Saturday, then reconvened to finalize things on Sunday.
"We really try to take time to get a fair and equitable bracket," Wiebers said. "It takes a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of gas."
The girls bracket had two clear-cut No. 1 seeds, according to 5A seeding committee chair Rick Hergenreter, a longtime basketball observer and past educator in Jefferson County: Regis Jesuit and Grandview. After that?
"We had a really tough time deciding the other two No. 1s," Hergenreter said. "There were so many teams that had so much potential.
"We took a long time to try and figure it out. There are some people that are probably going to disagree with what they see, but we came up with what we thought were the next two best choices."
Those two teams ended up as Cherry Creek and Fossil Ridge.
The Continental ended up with 10 qualifiers out of 11 teams, the Front Range got 10 of 12 and the Centennial qualified all seven.
"When you look at strength of league, Continental had the strongest league," Hergenreter said.
Ultimately, the entire selection spanned two days.
"There's nothing easy about this process," Hergenreter said. "We sat in there (meeting) for five hours (on Saturday). We spent an hour figuring out who two of the four No. 1s were. We spent another 45 on who was out.
"It's not an easy process regardless of what people may think."
Earlier Sunday, the 4A brackets were released on CHSAANow.com. Valor Christian, Thompson Valley, D'Evelyn, Pueblo South are the boys' No. 1 seeds. Broomfield, Mesa Ridge, Sand Creek, Pueblo South head the girls' field as No. 1s.