Another outstanding season in the books, folks! If the excitement we were treated to in our regular season finales are any sign of what's to come we are in for an epic postseason.
Friday night, Rock Canyon upset No. 1 ThunderRidge, earning a share of the Continental title.
Not to be out done, George Washing and Denver East served up what folks are calling an "instant classic" overtime thriller, where the Patriots outlasted the Angels to bring home the DPL title.
The four Class 5A teams highlighted here can knock the other off any given night, but one would be foolish to not add Chatfield and Ball Fever preseason pick Eaglecrest to the list of 5A squads who can win it all.
Valor and Pueblo West have made solid arguments themselves for the opportunity of a 4A rematch in March! Keep in mind D'Evelyn, which has made a strong run, and don't forget Sand Creek with the star power of CU-bound D'Shawn Shwartz.
Those who follow Ball Fever also know we don't think this is a rare time for Colorado hoops, but a result of numerous factors leading to good basketball being played on our high school courts. We saw numerous teams hold the No. 1 spot in 5A and 4A this season which speaks to the parity and high level ball being played.
The buzz about Colorado hoops is legit and we can thank a growing basketball community for that from our peewee rec leagues to competitive club ball, increasing individual personal training opportunities, and truly dedicated high school staffs.
The basketball product hitting the Colorado hardwood is improving and colleges of all levels are taking notice! We have even started a little tracking of the college players with our Ball Fever "College Watch" on twitter at @BallFever_CO_Tr.
Great time to be a part of Colorado hoops ... let's get to the madness!
Larry Farmer Region
Have to start with the No. 1 overall seed Eaglecrest here, which is looking to send Coach John Olander out as a champion in his final season leading the Raptors. It gets tough immediately for them with a possible second-round match up with EMAC league champ Rangeview, who is young but have a senior lead point guard in Matt Johnson Jr. at the helm.
This is jumping way ahead but couldn't help but peek at that possible Denver East/Smoky Hill Sweet 16 match in the bottom part of this region. Quite an athletic treat if that happens!
- Eaglecrest was our preseason 5A pick to win it all and we are sticking with that. Guard play of a proven leader in Colbey Ross who is surrounded by senior leadership on this squad could make it happen.
- Size of a Denver East or Smoky Hill could cause the Raptors problems though!
Watch out for:
- Star power, and a "go to" guy in the playoffs can go a long way. Who has that? Vista Ridge, led by senior Hunter Maldonado (Wyoming commit) has the ability to carry his squad.
- Not just star power, but scoring power as well comes in the form of Fossil Ridge's Braxton Bertolette who averaged 38 amazing points in his last three games! These guys can pull an upset.
Mark Randall Region
With Grandview slipping a bit late in the season the hottest team here is Rock Canyon coming off there late heroics beating No. 1 ThunderRidge to end the season.
Some potential fun second round matches here if Legend and Mountain Vista rekindle their Continental league rivalry.
If Montbello (FNE) can advance past Dakota Ridge they can head to Overalnd for A-Town vs. DPL fun!
- Rock Canyon is on a mission, folks. They can score with you, but can also win a slug fest if necessary with the back court tandem of juniors Sam Masten and Tyson Gilbert leading the way.
- We can see Overland or Montbello giving them a test but the Jags are coming out of this region.
- Grandview will have their hands full with Mountain Vista if that happens in Sweet 16 but will the inside out magic of LeChaun Duhart and Gage Prim be enough?
Watch out for:
- Mountain Vista was hindered by injuries and if Coach Wood gets a healthy crew pressing/running the floor they can ruin someone's plans.
- Check out Aaris Bonds who is a college bound player for Montbello (FNE) but they may not have enough size or veterans around him to make a strong run.
Chauncey Billups Region
The ThunderRidge Grizzlies held a long run at 5A No. 1 before losing final regular season game. Fever Crew thinks that will just focus them and increase the hunger.
Next thing that stands out in this region is the team with our state's longest winning streak, Chatfield, drawing a 7 seed. Chargers will have to prove that what they did in Jeffco league was no fluke and "charge" through the tourney competition!
- Don't have to look further than the two teams already mentioned here! ThunderRidge and Chatfield look destined for a collision course on paper.
- It may surprise some but we'll go with Cherokee Trail as third in the region ranking.
Watch out for:
- We preach point guard play in late season and Jaziec Lottie can lead "Centennial Tough" Cherokee Trail to surprise wins with his late game heroics.
- Our Fever Crew got out to Cherry Creek at Smoky Hill Friday night and witnessed a flat performance from the Bruins. If they don't find their fire look out for Denver South to make a surprise sweet 16 run with sharp shooting tandem Connor Nelson/Tucker Cargile along with slashing Cortney Dean.
Guy Gibbs Region
Looking for "swag" and confidence? The hot George Washington Patriots have it! Ultra quick back court of the Fuggett brothers, the "rim protector" Tray Pierce, and scoring machine Jervae Green give the Patriots a real shot at returning to basketball glory.
We like the potential match up Arapahoe visiting Doherty in Round 2. The Warriors don't back down and travel well!
A team that joined our top-10 late in the season and is eager to prove themselves are the Lambkins from Fort Collins.
- GW is the clear favorite with the momentum of their overtime DPL title win over Denver East.
- Fort Collins has been a bit of an unknown to those of us in the city and if they can get their first win they'll likely run into a balanced Doherty team who has a confident floor leader of their own in Brevin Brimble.
- Doherty is back to back league champ and proved they aren't afraid of a tough environment in their late season win at Denver East.
Watch out for:
- Young and talented Wolverines over at Chaparral would like nothing more than to face a Regis team they are very familiar with and a possible rematch with GW in the Sweet 16 this time around!
Bob Ottewill Region
Valor had its fair share of time as our No. 1 4A squad and no surprise they are the top overall seed. Their senior heavy squad was the Fever Crew's preseason pick to avenge their title loss last season and we see that coming true.
Next thing that jumped out for us here was a potential Sweet 16 match between Northridge and Mead. Both teams have the potential for more but may have to see each other early!
- As stated above, its Valor in our camp. Senior trio of Jalen Sanders, Kayle Knuckles, and Dylan McCaffrey looking go out on top!
Watch out for:
- Thomas Jefferson went through a stretch where they missed some top players and we see them playing Valor tough if they advance past Erie. Ravel Moody and Galen Street are two seniors who played tough against DPL 5A competition.
Bill Weimar Region
Tough. Region. Here.
I believe there are six teams that were in our 4A top-10 poll at some point of the season here! Durango coming in at the No. 4 seed will be eager to prove they are worthy and a second-round matchup of Golden/Longmont, should it happen, just seems "waaaaay" too early.
- If Durango lives up to their seeding they will have their hands full with possible foe Evergreen, who has faced some of 4A's best. We see Holy Family coming out of this region but Golden will have a lot to say about things.
Watch out for:
- Longmont, Holy Family, and Golden at the bottom of this bracket almost seems unfair. All would be able to advance elsewhere but only one will come out!
Jim Baggot Region
Whoa! if Chatfield in 5A thought they were better than a 7 seed, you better believe defending champ Pueblo West is feeling that same chip on their shoulder.
Pueblo South's late season surge and knocking off Pueblo West who was 4A No. 1 at the time led to their No. 2 overall seed.
- A Great 8 rematch of Pueblo South and Pueblo West would be absolutely lovely here! A lot of work before that happens, but it is likely.
Watch out for:
- Two teams: Vista PEAK in the top of this bracket has the athletes to play with anyone in 4A and Silver Creek in the bottom side looks like they can definitely schedule a date with Pueblo West if they take care of business early.
Richard Tate Region
Ooooohhhh the tough regions continue! Sand Creek is the toughest 14 seed in history and we're sure they have a chip on their shoulder due to the late season slide. D'Evelyn is a deserving 3 seed here and tough league battles will serve them well.
- Even with Sand Creek's star power we believe D'Evelyn's consistent play will pay off and get them over the hump!
Watch out for:
- Have we mentioned point guard play in the playoffs yet? Well, there's a PG named "CJ" for Sierra who could lead the Stallions on a run that wouldn't surprise us at all.
Because we knew where teams would fall and ultimately be seeded, the RPI standings took a bit of fun out of waiting for brackets on Sunday like in the past where we were patient (and funny on social media) while that human element debated.
Our crew had about the same, if not more, frustration with the previous selections than RPI. A balance of the objective measure system and human touch will eventually prevail. If you have that answer now: PLEASE RAISER YOUR HAND and present it vs. aimless complaint.
Well, this year the human element will be 100 percent on the court in the hands of these awesome athletes. The cream will rise, folks. Always does ... get out and enjoy!