Welcome back, hoop fans to what we call the best time of year. Nothing like March #MileHighMadness energy!
Let's take a look at how things played out and preview our Final 4!
5A/4A Great 8 Recap
Our CHSAA staff compiled a pretty cool list of social media and direct reports from the 5A/4A coverage. Check it out here.
A compilation of our best photographers were also on hand at the Coliseum to capture the exciting moments.
5A Final 4 Preview
Chaparral vs. ThunderRidge
It's been said many times that it's hard to beat the same team three times in a season. And that's exactly what Chaparral is hoping to do when it faces ThunderRidge on a neutral court this time.
Chaparral beat a very game Cherry Creek squad 67-62 in the Great 8 to reach this point. Big man Bryce Matthews did a lot of damage inside scoring 20 points while on the perimeter Kobe Sanders and Tanner Giles combined for 23. Tyzelle Lewis took on the challenge of guarding "super soph" Julian Hammond and disturbed him first half until Hammond started to find some rhythm second half finishing with 21 and his running mate Myles Purchase scored 18 in the loss.
16-0 start? I don't think anyone in the Coliseum expected the start ThunderRidge had in absolutely shocking Overland with that start to the first stage. The quarter ended up 20-5 and this game was never really in question as the Grizz shot 48 percent from the field, a hot 6-8 from 3-point land, and 85 percent from free throw line en route to 73-49 convincing win.
Senior Bailey Verk led four Grizzlies in double figure scoring with 18 and scored in a variety of ways. Young soph Garrett Arnold was dishing the rock to the double digit scorers as he piled up 6 assists with only 1 turnover. Big Graham Ike was the bright spot for Overland on a down day with 15 points and nine rebounds.
As previously mentioned, Chap and ThunderRidge have played each other twice this season and the Wolverines are 2-0, winning both of the previous match ups by double digits. The Grizzlies' leading scorer Austin Holt at 12 points per game will need to lead the way and have at least two others to join him in double figure scoring in this one.
Kobe Sanders will look to stay out of early foul trouble so he can find his rhythm early for Chap to have success.
It will be a battle inside with the Grizzlies overall size vs. Chap's horses who will look to push the pace.
Tizell Lewis will be licking his chops to again be a defensive "secret weapon" for Chap and he will need to be allowed to play his defensive style for Chap to take down T-Ridge for the third time.
Mountain Vista vs. Rangeview
Two teams that have been doubted throughout the season:
Mountain Vista didn't step up in their big games against Chap and Regis.
Rangeview's league play and lack of competition will hurt them come playoff time.
These are criticisms these two teams are fully aware of and ready to blast the myths!
Speaking of blasting myths, how about Mountain Vista taking that "no one can shoot in the Coliseum" belief and making it look silly this night. The Eagles shot 50 percent from the field and needed every bit of it as Kenny Foster scored 30 for Smoky Hill and had Vista faithful just a little nervous as things got tight in the end.
But Ben Grusing was the picture of consistency for Vista scoring 20 points and was 10-12 from the free throw line. Vista was 75 percent from the line as a team which was crucial down the stretch.
We knew plenty about Chap, Vista was hot, and ThunderRidge left looking like a totally different squad from the regular season, but many on press row stated they were most impressed with the overall team play and attack of Rangeview.
The Raiders have a laundry list of capable athletes and defending champ Grandview was missing one of theirs in injured junior Caleb McGill. That certainly didn't help the Wolves, who with McGill is one of the few teams in the state whose roster you could look at and say, "yep, this stacks up nicely."
The Raiders are aggressive in attacking the rim but also have a young man, Cade Palmer, who can stretch the floor! He only shot twice on the night but where he shot the DEEP 3s from is what forced Grandview to extend their defense and create lanes for Raiders slashers.
Quincy Jewett led the scoring for Rangeview with a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double in the impressive 10-point win. Never easy to take out the defending champs!
Rangeview and Mountain Vista are both 24-2, proved they belong here, and both average almost 70 points per game. We won't have to worry about any slowed pace with Coach Wood and Coach Palmer here!
Watch out for Quincy Jewett to have a huge impact as the Eagles have struggled with teams who have height inside. They are many "above-the-rim" Raiders as well (none more high-flying than the Speller twins), who will make the rebounding, second-chance point game interesting.
The "big 3" of Grusing, May, and Pulling will be called on heavily for the Eagles, who will likely throw multiple defensive looks at Rangeview, daring them to hit from the perimeter (not Cade Palmer though...stay glued to him!) in an attempt to keep those studs out of the paint.
Is there such thing as a fast paced chess match? Can't wait!
4A Final 4 Preview
Lewis Palmer vs. Holy Family
Holy Family has only lost four games on the season but one of those losses was to the No. 1 overall seed by 17 points back in December. Holy Family obviously has played strong ball since that Dec. 1 loss.
Arguably there's no better team or "hot" squad than 26-0 Lewis Palmer, who isn't only undefeated but also have a home win over the 5A No. 1 seed on their resume, as well.
Lewis-Palmer won their Great 8 game by more than 30 over Centaurus while Holy Family won by 11 in a revenge game over Mead, who was rolling before their loss to HF.
Joel Scott and the Rangers are no strangers to the Coliseum where he'll bring his 19-point-per-game average.
The mid-range attack of Tanner Baird's 16 points per game is what leads the Tigers. Holy Family hangs its hat on defense but allowed 60 to LP in their December match.
Tre McCullough and Noah Baca both scored 12 as Scott led with 21 in the first tilt. Matt Ragsdale did not play the first time around, and that makes the Tigers' defensive task even greater!
Longmont vs. Pueblo East
Lewis Palmer isn't the sole 26-0 squad! Don't forget unbeaten defending champ Longmont, who unlike the Rangers who haven't blown out all contenders. The Trojans have played recent overtime games, including their tight 1-point win over game Harrison on their home court in Great 8 play.
Pueblo East comes in on a four-game winning streak and taking down No. 3 seed Steamboat and Cheyenne Mountain's scoring machine Javonte Johsnon in Great 8.
Pueblo East has won their last two elimination games by a total of 6 points. Battle tested, as well!
Longmont averages 70 points per game and that is fueled by Brady Renck's nearly 8 assists per game! Beck Page is the recipient of many of those assists averaging 14 points per match for the Trojans.
Pueblo East is powered by Kain Medrano's 12 points per game and Joe Padula's 8 rebounds each night out.
Pueblo East will bring their blue collar, defensive mentality to the Coliseum to see if they can dethrone the champs!
Final 4 Thoughts
Talking on press row we always discuss the "sexy" match up for the fans and media. Looking at it that way the Fever Crew would be ALL HYPED for a Chaparral/Rangeview final...but we also realize there is "Highlands Ranch" prideful community who would love nothing better than a ThunderRidge/Mountain Vista all "H-Ranch" final! We shall see.
In 4A you couldn't write a better script than 27-0 vs. 27-0 Longmont/LP rematch from last year. Many feel this has been destined since one year ago and these two top seeds have certainly played that way. But something tells up Pueblo East and Holy Family are just fine with the "unbeatens" getting all the attention which they hope can lead to a sneak attack!
Friday is jam-packed with intrigue, folks. Get out and enjoy!