Ball Fever: Recapping boys hoops' early rounds, previewing Sweet 16s and Great 8s

Sand Creek Valor Christian boys basketball

(Ray Chen/

Is there any surprise that lower seeds went on the road and earned road wins in the first week of playoff action?

How about two No. 1 seeds going down early in 4A action? Yes folks, our "wide open" big school action continued with the surprises we have almost become accustomed to this season.

It's March — let's get to the madness.

Week In Review

Wednesday, Feb. 25 (5A Round 1):

Fairview Denver East boys basketball

Denver East appears ready to defend its crown in 5A. (Matt Mathewes/

  • Pat Sullivan's strong night led 10th-seeded Highlands Ranch to the upset at Chatfield and Dennis Pleuss is all over it.
  • Isaiah Clausell-Reese scored 24 points for Palmer but it wasn't enough as Grandview held court and held on 72-63.
  • Lincoln finished the season scoring in bunches and that didn't stop in the 91-63 win over Loveland.
  • Our guy Kai Casey has the photos and report of Ben Egan and Andrew Romero scoring big for Mountain Range.
  • Horizon wasn't happy about having to travel to Smoky Hill and Michael Skinner's 19 points helped earn the 54-48 win. Josh Ralphs added 17 in the road win.
  • Two young squads got it on in Arapahoe at Doherty and Dan Mohrmann had it covered.
  • Our first "30-piece" was served up by Thomas Neff scoring 33 points as Arvada West rolled up 90 points in win over Legacy.
  • Hinkley gave it an effort but Columbine earned the 71-57 home win.
  • Aurora Central was eager to prove their conference could compete but Heritage's Tom Skufca's 20 point, 9 rebound effort led the Eagles to 62-47 win. Ladarius Thomas was big for the Trojans scoring 20 points in the loss.
  • Jack Buckmelter seemed out to prove he, and Denver East, are ready to defend the Angels' title. Matt Matthewes has the report and photos of the game.
  • Back and forth in Boulder the whole way and the Panthers pull off the 2-point overtime win over a game Liberty squad. Chris Gaines had 14 in the loss.
  • Northglenn packed the gym in their home playoff game and Jacob Montour's 17 points led the way in 57-50 win over Greeley West.
  • Castle View used a 15-5 fourth quarter to tie the game down south vs. Fountain-Fort Carson and then road momentum to a 2-point overtime win.
  • Will Bower was the "big man on campus" as Cherry Creek protected the home court and Jack Eberhard has your report/photos.
  • Nate Davis gave it his all for Mullen but the Warriors (Montbello) overall talent was too much as Malik Hart led three in double figure scoring with 16 points.
  • Lakewood was a huge underdog and the records truly looked like a mis-match in this one but Kolton Peterson led the young Tigers to an 11-point road win over a 21-win team in Monarch.

Friday, Feb. 27 (4A Round 1):

  • Sand Creek got the 10-point win over Mesa Ridge at the Valor Christian site.
  • How about 23 points each from Chris Helbig and Luke Golter in Holy Family pulling away from Elizabeth? Jake Gavitt scored 24 in the loss.
  • Another lopsided win as Colton McLean scored 15 points in Windsor's 31 point 1st-rounder over Montrose.
  • In one of the tighter Round 1 games, Jonathon Scott-led Lewis-Palmer to a 6-point win over Thompson Valley.
  • D'Evelyn started off defensive again only giving up five first quarter points. Grant Witherspoon scored 26 in the win over Fort Morgan.
  • Sierra used a 13-6 fourth quarter to seal the 6-point win over Silver Creek.
  • The Fever Crew made it out to Denver South where the host Rebels were not very kind to Erie leading the entire way. Devante Loggins had a 15 point, 11 assist double-double to lead the way.
  • Air Academy used a 24-12 fourth quarter to pull away from Evergreen in the 21-point win.
  • Cole Greff's 18 point, 10 rebound double-double in another one sided first round victory for Golden over Durango.
  • Tristan Trujillo's 16 points led three in double figure scoring for Valor Christian in Eagles 21-point win over Mountain View.
  • Pueblo Central wins by 14 over Niwot in 4A round 1.
  • Vedin Kozic's 23 point, 10 rebound double-double wasn't enough for Wheatridge as Pueblo South marches on.
  • Mitchell's fourth quarter comeback kept Pueblo West from getting all three Pueblo schools into Round 2.
  • Longmont flexed its 4A No. 1 overall seed "muscles" holding Palisade to 27 points while scoring 61 themselves.
  • Josh McNair's 21 points, 8 rebounds was big for Thomas Jefferson's first round win over Glenwood Springs.
  • Kenyatta Lattimore wasn't feeling like a lower seed as he led Falcon to the upset of 3-seed Vista Peak 65-57.

Saturday, Feb. 28 (5A Round 2):

Regis Jesuit Grandview boys basketball

Regis rolled right into 5A's Sweet 16. (Jack Eberhard/

  • Eaglecrest left little doubt about their No. 1 seed only allowing Heritage 6 points in the fourth quarter winning 68-46.
  • Our "game of the day" second round pick was Denver East visiting Rock Canyon. East quickly and firmly proved they are not your typical 6th seed! Zach Marburger took in the action.
  • ThunderRidge was on the ropes early but responded with a 20-4 fourth quarter statement. Big man Zach Pirog only scoring 2 points had to be part of the slow start but Noah Szilagyi hit four 3-points, leading to 17 points.
  • Another lower seed getting the road win as Boulder went into a tough Centennial gym and took down Cherokee Trail 59-50. The Cougars picked a bad time for poor shooting and the Panthers capitalized.
  • The Patriots Jervay Green scored 25 points and Calvin Fugett added a 14 point, 10 assist double-double as George Washington was in command early vs. Cherry Creek. Will Halfon stepped up with 24 points in the loss for the Bruins.
  • Brock Laue was up north as the Warriors (Montbello) traveled well and kept their composure late in a in tough road victory.
  • Reggie Gibson was feeling it scoring 24 points and dazzling the crowd with strong "handles" in Overland's 21 point win over Castle View.
  • Mountain Range was putting up good numbers this year but the trip to the Wolverines den wasn't so friendly as they only scored 33 in the 18-point loss to Chap. Spencer Sheaman's 21 points, 6 rebounds led the way. Andrew Romero 15 in the loss.
  • Don't know if Grandview had Geoffrey Kelly on their radar but he scored 25 points for Regis as they pulled away late to win by 16. Jack Eberhard has photos.
  • Mountain Vista's usual balance was on display with four players in double figures led by Ray Beresford's 13 in win over Doherty. The Spartans will be back strong next year as sophomore Brevin Brimble led all scorers with 19. Here are Matt Mathewes' photos from the game.
  • The 7 seed Columbine gave the 2 Legend all they could handle but the Titans pull off the 2-point home win.
  • One of the better 4 vs. 5 match-ups of the weekend was Arvada West visiting Fossil Ridge. The Neff brothers came in hot but the Sabercats cooled them off with 19 points in the win.
  • Grand Junction is a bit of an unknown to teams to their east. Northglenn traveled far and played well but the 4 seed beat the 5 here.
  • Speaking of a little unknown, senior Donovan Oldham and Rampart are looking to "rep the 719" as his 17 point, 14 rebound double-double took down a young Lakewood team that will be back strong.
  • Lincoln came in scoring 90-plus points in their last two games but Dakota Ridge played this game at their tempo and Cody Pittman's 14 points helped take down the Lancers 55-48.
  • Highlands Ranch played tough in round 1 without one of their best Ryley Stewart out with injury but walking into the Rangeview gym was different than round 1. The Raiders Tyrei Randall paced the Raiders win with 22 points, including 4-three pointers.

Saturday, Feb. 28 (4A Round 2):

Golden basketball players celebrate after the Demons rallied in the final minute to defeated Thomas Jefferson 69-65 in the Class 4A boys basketball state Sweet 16 game Saturday night at Golden High School. Golden trailed by five points with less than a minute to play, but went on a 9-0 run to get the victory. (Dennis Pleuss)

A 9-0 run in the final 50 seconds gave Golden a win over Thomas Jefferson. (Dennis Pleuss)

  • Another team we are going to all have to get to know a little better it seems in Pueblo South as they take down the No. 1 seed Holy Family. Chris Helbig with 27 in the loss but an 18-8 third quarter sealed it for P-South.
  • Dennis Pleuss has your photos and action shots as Golden kept the magical season alive by scoring 9 points in final minute!
  • Lewis-Palmer traveled north and played with supreme confidence taking down our second No. 1 seed Denver South who looked prime for another visit to Boulder. Lewis-Palmer and Jonathon Scott know a little about Boulder themselves!
  • Dan Morhmann covered Coach Dunn's "high energy" Sierra Stallions getting the Sweet 16 win.
  • Air Academy took control in the 3rd quarter with a 21-13 advantage and held Pueblo Central's scoring duo in check winning this match up by 10.
  • 20-points each from Khameron Davis and Jalen Sanders leading Valor to home win over a strong Sand Creek squad. Ray Chen has the action shots.
  • There's a pattern here folks! D'Evelyn starts this game 23-4 over Mitchell with Grant Witherspoon scoring 16. They have now earned a home Great 8 game!
  • Undefeated Longmont lead Windsor beginning to end winning by 22-points with Justinian Jessup leading with 23 and 9 rebounds.

We had a feeling Rounds 1 and 2 would not let us down. A few lopsided victories in there but the overtime wins and surprising upsets are what this time of year is all about!

The Week Ahead

Dakota Ridge senior Jeff Kania (10) dribbles the ball as Lakewood sophomores Dallas Bailey (0) and Tyrone Thompson (10) get back on defense Friday night. Kania scored seven points off the bench for the Eagles in a 65-44 victory. (Dennis Pleuss)

Can Dakota Ridge carry the flag for Jeffco? (Dennis Pleuss)

5A Sweet 16 preview:

Bill Weimar Region

No. 1 overall seed Overland will be doing some serious film study as Grand Junction is a bit of an unknown to metro-area squads. Overland's strength coming into the tourney is well established but few know Grand Junction's on a 9-game win streak of their own.

Talk about a rematch! Mountain Vista came into Montbello and jumped out to a big early lead only for the Warriors to come back and win the regular season tilt in overtime. Expect the action to be just as exciting here between two deserving Great 8s ... but someone must lose!

Jim Baggot Region

Many anticipated an "A-Town" showdown between Cherokee Trail and Regis but the Boulder Panthers had a little to say about that. Boulder is hoping Regis may run into a cold shooting day as C-Trail did but the Raiders can heat up and score in bunches in their building.

We talked about the doubts of Rangeview many had in them earning a No. 2 seed last week. They did what they were supposed to do in handling Highlands Ranch but there's a whole other monster paying a visit in defending champ Denver East.

The Angels proved they are afraid to visit no one, handling Rock Canyon from tip-off to finish. The Fever Crew thinks this will come down to Raiders finding an answer to Jordan Willis, who has been a terror on the inside.

Ray C. Ball Region

Eaglecrest loaded as any team in the state and cruised to 22-point Round 2 victory. They have an experienced foe coming in with last year's 5A runner up Fossil Ridge visiting Aurora.

Two great staffs here and players who have made the trip to Boulder. Expect this to go down to the wire!

Maybe our most intriguing game of the 5A Sweet 16 as we have two teams in George Washington and Legend who have both been called "young" and "full of potential" all year long. Both squads have matured and are blazing hot coming into this one.

Which team will taste the Coliseum and who will be left taking about how good they will be next year? Legend beat the Patriots by 14 on their home floor in January and GW would love to return the favor when it counts!

Chanucey Billups Region

ThunderRidge may not be able to afford the slow start they survived in Round 2. Rampart is senior-led with a stand out who can score in bunches in Donovan Oldham.

The Grizzlies' big man Zach Pirog can effect the game in many ways but will likely look to be more offensive than the first playoff outing. More teams that don't know each other here!

Chaparral travels well, but Dakota Ridge packs the house each time out so expect a fun atmosphere as the student sections will be as lively as the teams on the court.

Dakota Ridge will be looking to carry the Jeffco torch as the Wolverines just another tough Continental senior led team who are finding ways to win with experience.

4A Great 8 preview:

Maceo Broadnax Region

Longmont is undefeated and coasted nicely through Round 1 and Sweet 16. They will coast no longer as a team very familiar with the Great 8, Valor Christian, will be ready! Some of our top class of 2016 talent in Justinnian Jessup and Khameron Davis. Fun stuff!

Mark Randall Region

Sierra, as the 2 seed who many though were deserving of a 1, took care of their business while Pueblo South knocked off a 1 seed to get to this point. Not many in metro area know these rosters but we have a hunch they are familiar with each other.

Richard Tate Region

With Golden's unbelievable 50-second magic ending over Thomas Jefferson, this region played out with the 1 facing the 2 seed. Golden's special season has been well documented while Air Academy has just been quietly trucking along!

Guy Gibbs Region

With the 1 and 2 seeds bounced earlier than expected in this region, the action now heads to D'Evelyn where they hope their defensive style that has gotten done all year will again work vs. Lewis-Palmer and a confident group of road warriors. Grant Witherspoon vs. Jonathon Scott "tons of fun" to watch here.

When this week is over we will know which teams have punched their tickets to Boulder!

If this season has taught us anything, it may not be the teams written on your original bracket! Get out there and enjoy our favorite time of the hoops season, folks!