The first word, when thinking big-school boys basketball, that comes to mind is PARITY.
This was a theme for most of the season and taking a look at the eight remaining Class 5A/4A squads heading to the Final 4 you get the feeling that any of the four have the ability to hoist the trophy.
What a ride it was arriving at this point! Last second, ESPN-worthy, photo finishes to lights-out 30-point individual scoring performances the Great 8 treated us to some outstanding hoops.
Let's see how it all played out.
If you missed any of the action from The Denver Coliseum we have you covered with our 5A Great 8 roundup.
Photos is what you desire? Tons of shots from all four games.
Mark Randall Region
Rock Canyon fully looked the part of a team who held the No. 1 5A ranking for a time during the season jumping out to a 17-2 lead at one point in the first quarter. While Grandview looked a bit shell-shocked, their saving grace came in the form of reserve senior Kain Mack who immediately hit a 3-point goal when he entered the game and added 10 quick first half points.
LeChaun Duhart and big man Gage Prim settled down in the second half and the Wolves made their run with huge late 3's from Ben Boone but crafty Sam Masten made that key steal that will now go down in history.
The Wolves showed the heart they did all season and showed tremendous class in such a heartbreaking loss. The Jags, led in scoring by Tyson Gilbert on this day, again showed they can survive and beat you teams in a number of ways!
Larry Farmer Region
Denver East came in with perhaps the hottest player in the state with Daylen Kountz scoring 37 or more in recent games. Kountz could not get a rhythm on this night due to picking up his third foul late in the first quarter. The Raptors took full advantage of the star sitting out and displayed why they are one of the deeper squads in 5A.
Colbey Ross was scoreless in the first half but not an issue as Ozor and Walton combined for 28 points on the night. When it was time to put the game away Ross dominated the ball late, got to the free throw line, and scored 19 in the second half to seal it.
Guy Gibbs Region
We heard from up north that this Fort Collins team was solid and don't be surprised if they try to run, press, and push the pace vs. GW. One problem there: no team left standing may be able to push the pace quite like the George Washington Patriots!
Knowing that Denver East had already lost, there was extra incentive for GW to hold court for the inner city. Fort Collins athletes Jacob Pfaffinger and crew came to play, didn't back down, but GW just had too many athletes that fit the high pressure "run and gun" system a bit better.
Be proud up north! The Lambkins represented well, but these Patriots look ready to carry the weight of an entire city if they have to!
Chauncey Billups Region
It seems a little fitting that the player the Fever Crew felt played the best in the Coliseum this day on both ends of the floor (offense & defense) was T-Ridge's Kaison Hammonds. He is a poised, lethal scorer who carries himself more mature than his junior season tag reveals. He scored 30 points this night including a cool 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.
Didn't get to make it out to Jeffco much this year but was thoroughly impressed with Chatfield's team ball and the way they share the rock. Their 23-game win streak was for real, but the Grizzlies overall length bothered them defensively. Quite a year for the Chargers to be proud of.
The Look Ahead:
Our Great 8 has produced two rematches in Friday's Final 4 from the regular season. Love that these four teams scheduled TOUGH non league foes during the season and now they get to go at it one more time for "all the marbles"!
First game up will be GW vs. T-Ridge. The Grizzlies came into the Patriots house and beat them by 10 back on Jan. 6. GW actually led at the half in the first match but a 22-8 third quarter along with a 30-point burst from senior Corey Seng earned the impressive road win for the Grizz two months ago.
The Patriots are a different, more confident squad this time around beaming confidence after their DPL championship overtime win over Denver East and they just happen to be on a 14-game winning streak since that early January loss to T-Ridge. This will be a classic city vs. suburbs match! The Patriots will need to get this game at their 83 points-per-game average, while Coach Ortiz and crew will be game planning to prevent just that.
Game 2 brings us a healthy rematch as well where Eaglecrest lost by 5 in their December visit to Rock Canyon. We can't read a lot into this as it was the third game of the season and both teams have three months of growth since then.
What stands out here to our crew was a 34-23 third quarter back in that December game with the advantage going to the Jags. Sam Masten scored 28 in that game and we're sure he was a big piece of that 34 points in the third stage. Let's also not forget that transfer Tyson Gilbert was not on the floor for the Jags, who were impressive in this home win.
The Raptors will be hungry to erase that December memory and return Coach John Olander to the title game in his final year at the helm.
The Raptors will need a few players in double digits displaying their depth as they did in the Great 8 to keep our Ball Fever preseason prediction of their title alive!
Our Fever Crew spent the entire Great 8 day at the Denver Coliseum with the 5A action but rest assured our CHSAANow staff has you covered with full reports from 4A action, as well
The full report on the Jeffco rivalry game between Golden and Evergreen.
Reports of over 4,000 Pueblo fans took in the instant classic between South and West.
The Look Ahead:
Don't be fooled by this 12 seed tag on Golden. Adam Thistlewood is riding an 18-point, 6-rebound average per game streak right now and they have won their three playoff games to this point by a combined total of 56 points!
Now here comes their toughest test however in No. 1 overall seed Valor. The Eagles score at a bit of a higher clip than Golden and have star power of one of the best in the state, regardless of class, Jalen Sanders who was our preseason pick to lead Valor in avenging last year's 4A title loss.
We have another rematch here in Lewis-Palmer/Pueblo South. Back in December the Rangers used a 22-9 fourth-quarter comeback to seal the win at Pueblo South 54-47. Hard to say which team is hotter here, with P South on a 10-game winning streak and riding the high of sweeping defending 4A champ Pueblo West in their two battles this season.
Not to be outdone, this gritty Lewis-Palmer team is on an 18-game win streak of their own! After a few losses early this Rangers team has certainly found their stride behind Joel Scott's 14 points per game.
The Coliseum has certainly seen it's fair share of good ball of the years but this time next week it will have hosted our 2017 Champions! Get out and enjoy, folks.