Ball Fever: Previewing the 5A and 4A boys basketball state tournaments

Rock Canyon ThunderRidge boys basketball

(Marcus Gipson/Jmariahimages.com)

Another fun and exciting season is in the books, hoops fans. Our final two weeks were full of overtime excitement, individual "monsta" performances, and leagues that came down to the wire, final games.

Let's hope its a sign of whats to come over the next few weeks!

Our 5A final RPI standings were a bit controversial as many felt the great performances of George Washington beating Denver East for the DPL "city" title and ThunderRidge defeating Rock Canyon, becoming the unbeaten Continental league champion, were not rewarded in the final seeding. The Fever Crew sees GW as "slighted" the most in the scenario, as they were very deserving a top 4 seed.

The 4A RPI played out a little bit more as expected. Many down south are hopeful of an early season rematch of Pueblo South and Lewis-Palmer but other top 4A squads Golden and Longmont look poised to perhaps disrupt that plan!

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!

Class 5A

Chuck Williams Region

Rock Canyon ThunderRidge boys basketball

(Marcus Gipson/Jmariahimages.com)

We traditionally start in the region of the top overall seed and that is Rock Canyon! The Jags made a tremendous early run holding the state's No. 1 spot for many weeks and they hope they didn't peak early as they want to repeat some of last year's magical run but finish with the title this year.

We called their senior leadership of Gilbert, Masten, and Williams, "The Firm." They were a large part of last season's run and are poised to play a big role again. The Jags thrive when Sam Masten and Tyson Gilbert are slashing/play-making and Williams does all the dirty work down low.

Favorites:

Rock Canyon is the top seed here for a reason. Will be tough for anyone else to emerge but the Jags will likely see a "Centennial Tough," battle-tested Eaglecrest squad early if the Raptors can advance past winner of Rangeview/Arap.

Watch out for:

Ken Shaw? Yes, anytime Coach Shaw's Regis Raiders are on your side of the bracket one should take notice. Almost a shame that Overland and Regis could see each other so early because the Fever Crew felt coming in that Coach Danny Fisher's Blazers (a squad that peaked after tough early comp!) is also capable of upsetting anyone on a given night.

Richard Tate Region

Rock CAnyon ThunderRidge boys basketball

(Marcus Gipson/Jmariahimages.com)

Checking the social media feed there were definitely those who felt the top seed in this region, ThunderRidge, were worthy of the overall No. 1 seed. Hard to argue that but after a closer look at the region, Grizzlies fans may not be so upset ... the Grizz are in a nice spot with the Fever Crew seeing them roll to Sweet 16 match vs. Doherty.

Favorites:

T-Ridge stands out in what seems to be a very favorable spot. Honestly, on paper, it's just hard to imagine the Sweet 16 match we spoke of above not happening in this region. If it doesn't someone has pulled off a MAJOR upset.

Watch out for:

Highlands Ranch, in at the 10 seed, will get all they want from Centennial Cherry Creek if that matchup plays out. Our main "watch out" squad here, though, is Doherty, which has won 14 of its last 16 and those were to Regis in overtime and a 5-point loss to Denver East. They can play with anyone and would like nothing more than a shot at T-Ridge if they both take care of business along the way.

Chauncey Billups Region

Chaparral Rock Canyon boys basketball

(Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)

The B-B-B-Billups Region will be represented well by top seed Chaparral. The Wolverines hope to get sharp-shooting wing Joseph Dalton back soon to join fellow junior stud Ronnie DeGray III, who has had a player-of-the-year type last couple months! But be careful Wolverines, there's an early possible match with a familiar foe Mountain Vista, and as the saying goes, "It's always hard to beat the same team twice."

Favorites:

Chaparral is joined as a favorite in this region by Grandview, which is on a six-game winning streak and has the athletes to compete in any style game. A possible Continental/Centennial showdown? We shall see.

Watch out for:

It's been a couple of years now that the Fever Crew has been advised of the "size" and improvement of this Rampart squad. Well, it's time to make that run if you want to show you belong, Rams! Don't look past the "Bellos" (FNE) either ... they are a feisty squad who won't go down easily.

Maceo Broadnax Region

Chaparral George Washington boys basketball

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

Goodness! There must be a region that seems a little tougher than the other three and this year it's the Broadnax Region. Our Fever Crew feels GW earned the right to the top spot here, but it's Denver East who could be in for another Sweet 16 match with ultra-athletic Smoky Hill (they danced last year as well!).

Favorites:

George Washington isn't off the hook at the bottom of the bracket, where a potential match with Liberty looms. Liberty has won eight of their last 10 games and those two losses are by a combined 5 points to Rampart/Doherty. If the Patriots and Angels want to settle things one more time, they have a lot of work to do before that happens.

Watch out for:

Smoky Hill's athleticism and exciting play is unquestioned but there have been some head-scratching losses right when you thought they were ready for a run. They match player-for-player with any squad in the region ... is this the time it all comes together?

Class 4A

Larry Brunson Region

Pueblo South Pueblo West boys basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Can the 4A football player of the year help lead his squad to the 4A basketball championship? Marcell Barbee, a two-sport stud, has a great opportunity to do that for the Pueblo South Colts. The Colts ran through their 4A League whether home or away and our top dog, right now.

Favorites:

Pueblo South is joined by two teams that have remained in the 4A top 10 most of the season in Evergreen and Valor. But only one can advance for a chance at No. 1 P-South should they advance!

Watch out for:

Keep an eye on a tough Elizabeth squad that was in the top-10 more than once and currently on a four-game winning streak.

Mark Randall Region

Lewis-Palmer boys basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Speaking of "stud" 4A players, Lewis-Palmer has a Player of the Year candidate in Joel Scott who is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds per game for the Rangers, who spent a large chunk of the season as our No. 1.

Favorites:

It gets tough IMMEDIATELY for Lewis-Palmer with a potential Round 2 match-up vs. Mesa Ridge, which beat them 50-41 earlier this season. L-P is on a 8 game winning streak on our favorite here.

Watch out for:

Two teams to watch out for may face each other in bottom half of this bracket: Silver Creek and Widefield. Silver Creek has an undisputed lethal scorer who we have covered a lot in 6-foot-4 "do-it-all" senior Trent Dykema, who averages 24 points per game and fill ups the full stat sheet nightly. Widefield is 19-4 overall and a senior heavy squad that won't want to lose.

Guy Gibbs Region

(Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Need more 4A star power? How about 23 points, 8 rebounds per game from Golden's Adam Thistlewood. The Demon's off/on court early season turmoil is well documented and could be just the thing to unite the squad for a late season run.

Favorites:

Pueblo West joins Golden in this region as a familiar postseason squad but they split this year with Pueblo East and that matchup could happen again.

Watch out for:

Don't automatically "pencil" in that Pueblo West/Pueblo East trilogy quite yet because Discovery Canyon, which is limping in to the playoffs, has been tested vs. 5A/4A competition. Eager, as well, to see Glenwood Springs, which only lost four games this season and went undefeated in league play. They're out west so we confess they are an unknown who can make this interesting.

Ron Vlasin Region

Longmont Thompson Valley boys basketball

(Conner Davis/CHSAANow.com)

RPI has Falcon and their four-game win streak coming in as the top squad in this region. However, if you're looking for that 4A team that might feel a bit slighted in seeding look no further than Longmont (21-2, 14-0 league champs).

Favorites:

Longmont suffered a mind-boggling late-season loss to Skyline but this blue collar crew will likely use that to propel a run.

Watch out for:

Toughest 4A region in our opinion with tough squads capable of pulling upsets: Thompson Valley, Windsor, Mead ... all teams with experience that you cannot look past.

Ok, hoop fans! Wednesday it all starts.

The RPI/Human Element/Better System debate is always interesting and no system will be perfect. The Fever Crew is just happy that our young basketball stars now have the chance to quiet the rhetoric and settle things on the court ... the way it should be.

The Cream Will Rise! Enjoy...