BOULDER — Wow — "wide open" was the theme in boys basketball this year, folks, and Air Academy's track meet performance vs. formerly-undefeated Longmont proved just that in Class 4A's title game on Saturday.
Meanwhile, D-I talent-loaded Overland showed that maybe 5A wasn't so wide open after all!
In 5A we must give "props" to coach "Bubba" Carey and the defending champ Angels who were written off by many early in the season. This was to be the season to "pay" the Angels back for their long string of success and wins. Not to be so! Brian Carey's undeniable leadership, Jordan Willis' emergence as a "double-double monsta," Jack Buckmelter's boost, and so on, were among the reasons East was back in Boulder.
Eaglecrest also has a crew of stud Raptors in the Ross brothers, Blend Advili, and Peter Anderson. The problem was they ran into a deep T-Ridge squad who got off to a 10-0 lead and the top Raptor players were asked to give everything they had in trying to come back, but came up short.
Longmont's 4A special season remaining undefeated to the championship game is definitely worth mentioning. Justinian Jessup is a smooth 6-foot-6 lefty who led this team all year.
Sierra and veteran Coach Terry Dunn don't lack for confidence and have tons of talent to continually be a "southern factor" in 4A play.
Well, here's a few numbers for you folks: Overland with 35-, 28-, 21-, 20- and 13-point victories in the playoffs. Average margin of victory 23 points!
Left no doubt who was the best team and most complete roster in the state of Colorado. Coach Danny Fisher had his squad focused and it's not easy to get all that talent on same page, willing to sacrifice "me" for the "we."
The Blazers also peaked, playing their best ball at the right time. In coach Fisher fashion, the Blazers raced off the court after accepting their trophies and taking pictures in the same united focus they attacked this postseason with.
Congrats on the first in school history T-Blazers!
Must be honest and pay a huge compliment to the Air Academy staff here: I sat taking notes on the pieces of their program, attack that I would love to implement with the Colorado players I coach spring/summer.
Not a lot of size, but you better have your track shoes on when facing the Kadets! It was like a "senior showcase" as all of their key veterans scored in double figures leading to the upset of Longmont.
Even when you get lucky and stop Air Academy from running they revert to their patient — but fluid — motion offense that still makes you work defensively. You might score a bucket on the Kadets, but you better get back on D and that turned out to be a formula for 4A title success.
Week in review:
Friday, March 13:
5A Final 4
- Dennis Pleuss was on point covering the hot-shooting ThunderRidge Grizzlies who used a balanced inside-out attack to beat Eaglecrest Friday.
- Overland has tons of talent and Zach Marburger has your recap of how their multiple big men stepped up to take down defending champ Denver East.
4A Final 4
- Longmont traveled to Boulder with the hopes of keeping their undefeated season alive and knocked off a feisty Sierra squad. Zach Marburger's awesome coverage is here.
- Late game heroics — "The Block" — helped Air Academy reach their first title game since '89 and Dennis Pleuss has you covered here.
Saturday, March 14
- A poised senior guard can be a HUGE help in title game play and Dennis Pleuss covered Wyoming-bound Austin Conway's ultra confident performance leading to Overland's first title in boys hoops ever!
- Our guy Brock Laue took a unique look at Air Academy's fancy foot-work on the soccer field helped them gain championship experience leading to knocking off the state's last undefeated Longmont to win the 4A title.
- Dan Mohrmann looked at the how the title may bring a feeling of tradition to Air Academy.
CHSAANow.com has you covered for all those coveted Championship memories here in the action shots.
The "Way Too Early" Look Ahead
Should we? Sure, why not.
It seems De'Ron will resist the temptation of the top prep schools who would love to have his services and prep him on a national stage for college. After the game, when asked if he would go to a prep school or return to Overland, he told our Dennis Pleuss, "I'm coming back for sure. I'm coming back and trying to repeat this thing."
Because of that, Overland returns as the top squad with the likes of Davis, Gibson, Wang and the Haliburtons back. Don't forget about Legend, whose entire starting five is returning in Continental. Can't forget about our city boys, and coach Hammons' George Washington Patriots have as much young talent as anyone.
Yes, Longmont was surely disappointed in their sole loss of the season coming in the 4A title game but having only two seniors and TEN RETURNING PLAYERS has to make the Trojans the clear 4A favorite next year.
Valor has young guns eager to taste Boulder again and as previously stated Sierra isn't going anywhere. Pueblo West is another to watch out for down south who experienced tons of success this year and likely cant wait for winter 2015 just like the rest of us "hoop heads"!
The end of Year 6 has come for Ball Fever and our Crew! Special thanks to Ryan Casey for the continued support and let's all get out there and support the constantly improving Colorado hoops!