Welcome back, hoop fans! Our CHSAANow journalists and photogs covered a tremendous amount of Round 1 and Round 2 action in our big school 5A/4A boys playoffs.
Let's take a look back at some of the action and preview a STACKED Sweet 16 that doesn't have a bad matchup on the docket!
Chauncey Billups Region
The overall No. 1 Seed is in this region and they looked every bit the part as they hosted No. 32 seed Fossil Ridge, who got here by beating Pine Creek 57-50. Chap enjoyed their Round 1 bye and also used this game to rest senior Tanner Giles whose out with an ankle injury.
Even without Giles the Wolverines attacked early and often on both ends of the floor with "in your face" defense from Kobe Sanders and "irritating" Tyzelle Lewis! The scoring was handled by big man Bryce Matthews who threw down unbelievable alley-oop dunks leading to a game-high 21 points which put him over 1,000 points on his career!
— Kevin Keyser (@KeyserImages) February 24, 2019
The Fever Crew was blessed with the opportunity to be a special guest of Blake Olsen on the 9News "Game of the Night" ... catch the ending here.
Chap will face No. 17 seed Mullen, who raced past Chatfield by 20 and then earned a tough three-point win over the Continental League's Castle View 59-56.
Isaac Okendane, the double-double machine for the Mustangs had another 10-point performance with numerous rebounds. They will need him inside and the sweet stroke of Christian Davis from the perimeter to keep pace with No. 1 seed Chap.
Speaking of keeping up, Mullen actually averages five more points per game than Chap at 68 per game and they'll need their best stepping into the Wolverines house who are now 20-4, and unbeaten on their home court.
In the bottom half of the Billups Region the highest seed Fairview (No. 8) used their bye to take a peek at Broomfield who upset the No. 25 seed Palmer in Round 1. Broomfield's magic that won the tight Round 1 match by four ran out as Fairview beat them soundly 69-48. The Knights have multiple players who can score in double figures and senior Mark Dolan led three with 18 on this night.
Fairview will get a rematch in their Sweet 16 round with Cherry Creek, whom they beat by five back in December at the Bruins' annual Holiday Tournament.
But Knights beware, the Bruins are riding the hot hand of "super soph" Julian Hammond, who led them to double-digit victories over Doherty and at higher-seeded Columbine.
Hammond was unbelievable on Saturday at Columbine, scoring 27 points and taking on the challenge of guarding CU commit Luke O'Brien. Hammond is a top-5 guard in Colorado and that's regardless of class!
Our Prep Hoops buddies were on hand to take in the performance:
— Prep Hoops Colorado (@PrepHoopsCO) February 23, 2019
Chuck Williams Region
Our Ball Fever "favorite" in this region was Regis, who was on a tear, but unfortunately they suffered a HUGE injury to big man Matt Wheelock, who was not able to compete in the playoffs and Regis is upset by Highlands Ranch in Round 2. With Regis now out, it may push the No. 2 overall seed in this region, Mountain Vista, to a possible deeper run.
Rocky Mountain got by Liberty by seven in Round 1 and their prize was to visit Vista, who had only lost one home game all season. The Lobos were certainly up for the task and took the Eagles to overtime on their home court, but losy by 3. Ben Gruhsing's 16 points were big the home Eagles.
Waiting on the Eagles will be a team from out west who we are eager to learn more about: Fruita Monument. We hear Fruita has some outstanding perimeter play and it was on display as they beat Greeley West by 17 with Marcus Labonde leading the way. Labonde averages 14 points per game for the 20-4 Wildcats, who head into Mountain Vista on Wednesday night.
In bottom half of this region Douglas County beat our beloved Warriors by 10 (solid season for the Bellos - FNE) and then had to face the highest seed Smoky Hill (No. 7). Coach Hardin of Smoky said that Douglas County came out with a defense devised to slow Kenny Foster and dynamic guard Quentin Rock, but this allowed the Buffs supporting cast to step up and Jordan Whittaker, Jalen Weaver (the super sophs) both responded with double digit scoring and Foster led all with 21 in the 17 point win.
Smoky will now get a visit from a confident Highlands Ranch squad that is playing well of late and as noted above beat a short-handed Regis squad in the final seconds by 1!
This is a rematch of a game Smoky won by 31 BIG ONES back in November and the Falcons will be eager to show their improvement ... the Buffs looking to stay unbeaten at home on the season!
Larry Farmer Region
In our preview we were clear that No. 3 seed Rangeview was the favorite at the top of the bracket, but Grandview has to be the fav to come out of this region.
The Raiders made quick work of Windsor, doubling them up 70-34 in Round 2 of this Region. No surprise the Raiders' big man Quincy Jewett took his double-double streak into the playoffs, scoring 18 and pulling down 14 rebounds in the route. The Raiders now look to hold court (11-0 at home) vs. Fountain-Fort Carson.
FFC, the 19 seed, was led by senior Rashon Barron, who scored 16 in the Trojans' win over Arvada West. Senior James Sanders added 15 in the 10-point road win over the higher seed Wildcats. KeyShawn Maltbia leads FFC with 17 points per game and they'll need multiple players in double-figure scoring at Rangeview, which is averaging 74 points per game. The Trojans can put up points as they scored 95 in their Round 1 win!
Bottom half of this region is led by our favorite here, defending champ Grandview. We all know the champ will be a "tough out," returning players who participated greatly in the last year's title game. Boulder beat a talented GW team Round 1 but didn't have enough to stay within 20 points of the Wolves, going down 55-32.
The team that surprised Grandview early in the season and handed them their first in-state loss was Rock Canyon. The Jags got by Northglenn by 22 points in Round 2. The Jags, who usually grind it out, were putting up the points this night, 77-55. Will they return to the "grind" style that earned the LOW scoring 37-36 December home win?
If they do, they'll have to do it in the Wolves house this time around and Grandview is 8-1 in their house!
Kent Smith Region
Centennial Tough at the top of this bracket and it played out just that way with No. 4 seed Overland and No. 13 seed Eaglecrest taking care of early round business. These two are in for their third meeting of the season in the Sweet 16.
Overland got a combined 38 points from their studs Graham Ike and Hezekiah Swanson in their win over Horizon, who was close at the half, but the Trailblazers eventually pulled away by 13.
Eaglecrest found themselves in a rematch vs. Legend, who they beat early in the season in Parker in the final moments. This one wasn't quite as dramatic as the Raptors were in full control late, ending the Titans' season 75-67. This will be Round 3 of the Eaglecrest/Overland tussle and the Blazers won both previous meetings last month by double digits.
The Raptors will have to try to find some answer for Graham Ike on the inside...which is tough for any team in the state! Aaron Bokol and Ty Robinson of the Raptors are special players and will need extraordinary nights to get Overland in their house.
Don't look now but our Ball Fever prediction of the "city vs. the suburbs" Sweet 16 match of Denver East at ThunderRidge has become a reality!
East had no problem Round 1 pounding Gateway and even without their Wyoming commit Kwane Marble missing they beat higher seed Ralston Valley by 19! Coach Carey has this version of the Angels hitting on all cylinders at the right time and we hope Marble is able to return for the coming matchup. Senior Caulin Swain stepped up in Marble's absence, scoring 20 points, and what about "freshman alert!" Langsston Reynolds pulling down a "monsta" 16 rebounds at Ralston Valley?
ThunderRidge got DEFENSIVE giving up single digits in the first two quarters vs. Poudre. Senior Kevin Sax led the scoring efforts with a game-high 21. The match with East will be a contrast of styles as East will want to get out and go as they average close to 80 points per game vs. T-Ridge's 57.
Expect some zone from the Grizzlies and an attempt to slow the pace...and expect the Angels to try and force that Grizzly size into a track meet. Classic chess match here and the wildcard will be whether or not Marble available for the Angels...this will be fun!
Ron Vlasin Region
No. 1 seed Lewis Palmer does it again, winning by 17 over Ponderosa who was obviously well-tested from their Continental League play. The 17 seed took down the 16 in Greeley Central's 54-49 win over The Classical Academy.
Two of our top 4A players will see each other here as Greeley Central's Jackson Hayslip, who averages 21 points per game, will see the Rangers do-it-all Joel Scott, who's at 19 per game himself. The Rangers average almost 20 more points per game and Scott's running mate Matt Ragsdale is coming off another 20-plus performance and can be a difference-maker here!
Some would call it a surprise in the bottom part of this region where Thomas Jefferson advanced to the Sweet 16 and will face the No. 9 seed Centaurus. The Spartans ended Wheat Ridge's great season as a No. 25 seed, taking down the host No. 8 seed. Centaurus didn't face as much of a challenge as they cruised past Eagle Valley by 18.
The Spartans scouting report will read: OWEN KOONCE! Fever Crew got to see this Centaurus stud in-person. He averages 18 per game and can score from inside or out. Speaking of scoring, the Spartans have a spark named Darius Hornbuckle who can "fill it up!" as well. Another fun game of contrasting styles. TJ trying to carry the torch for the city in 4A along with Lincoln.
Larry Brunson Region
Undefeated defending champ Longmont is no stranger to big wins and this Round 2 victory by 30 POINTS over Discovery Canyon came as no surprise to those who know the Trojans' fire power. They'll see Pueblo Central, who also won big by 19 in their Round 2 tangle with Durango.
Nico Martin, who averages 16 points per game for Pueblo Central, will have to step up big for them to have a shot at slowing Longmont's 70 points per game and 24-0 streak!
Bottom half of this region was a bit more of an unknown as the higher seed Glenwood Springs from the west came in as a bit of an unknown and Golden handled them easily by 18 in an upset of seed No. 26 over No. 7.
Alameda was on a special run this season but ran into "super soph" Donta Dawson from Harrison, who poured out another double-double with 19 points, 10 assists in that win.
Guy Gibbs Region
No. 46 seed Pueblo County knocked out 19 seed Evergreen on the road but couldn't beat rival Pueblo East, who advanced in Round 2 with a five-point win over County. In another one of those "unknowns" in a team none of us have seen much of from the west Steamboat Springs (No. 3 seed) won by 31 over Canon City.
Pueblo East will come with their team approach in this one...very balanced squad statistically and Steamboat Springs couldn't be more of a polar opposite as Mac Riniker not only leads the team in scoring at 18 points per game, he leads the team in EVERY statistical category!
Richard Tate Region
Holy Family is the recent veteran and successful 4A squad here and they beat an upstart DPL Northfield team, who is up and coming, by 18. Holy Family will face another squad with proud 4A history in Lincoln, who dropped Montrose 65-41.
Lincoln at Holy Family is one of the better matchups in any region of 5A and 4A. The Tigers pride themselves in defense and the Lancers have the horses to get out and go and make it more of a transition game. Tanner Baird, 16 points per game for Holy Family with his enforcer Helbig are tough, but the Lancers have a four-headed monster of Bamba, Felton, Foster, and Brown who can challenge any 4A squad if on their game. Did we use the "chess match" phrase yet?
Looking for the lowest seed still alive? Look no further than No. 44 Coronado, who knocked off Palisade by 3. Unfortunately, they will now have to face our Ball Fever "sleeper" Mead, who beat Skyview by 22 points.
Coronado is 9-16 overall but the exact reason we love this time of year! A team can unite in the end of the season and make an unexpected Cinderella-type run but knocking off Mead who is on a 20 GAME WIN STREAK may be a bit too much to ask from Coronado. Play it out on the floor!
Sixteen tickets will be punched to the "Great 8" for our big school 5A and 4A boys teams this week! Less than a week away from out annual visit to the Colisuem ... can't wait!!
Get out and enjoy, folks...