Ball Fever: Big things ahead for 5A/4A boys basketball teams

George Washington Smoky Hill boys basketball

(Marcus Gipson/Jmariahimages.com)

Happy New Year hoops fans! We're looking forward to an action packed next few months leading us to the Coliseum. It was quite a finish, in and out of state, for our top Class 5A and 4A big school squads to close out 2019. Let's take a look at what's ahead this week and we'll throw in some Holiday Tourney tidbits from December as we go along.

Stat leaders at the break have been updated and can be found here.

The Look Ahead

The rankings were updated coming out of the winter break and there were plenty of changes in each classification.

Tuesday, Jan. 7

• We talked a lot about this squad towards the end of last year and knew Mead had a bright future with a ton of young talent. The Mavericks score a hot 75 points per game and are up to No. 2 in our latest 4A rankings. Three players are in double-digit scoring so far led by Elijah Knudson's 14 points per game. They hit the road against an always tough Windsor team.

• How rare is it to say that Regis Jesuit is looking for its first win of the year in early January? The Raiders' search for that win doesn't get easier as they host a George Washington team coming off a tough tournament visit to Las Vegas. The Patriots are led by junior Kendale Johnson in points, assists, and steals. 9News "Game of the Night" will be in the house for this battle and will provide more insight in next week's Look Back.

• Chaparral has dropped from the top 10 and sits just on the outside looking in. Fresh off a 30-point overtime explosion in Chap's win over Cherry Creek over the weekend, senior Kobe Sanders will look to keep the momentum rolling as the Wolverines visit No. 10 Overland and the double-double machine Ike Graham. Overland usually returns much tougher and tested after their annual visit to the Las Vegas Tarkanian Classic where they held their own in the Platinum division over the holidays. This will be a fun showdown between the Continental and Centennial leagues.

Wednesday, Jan. 8

• This slate of game is highlighted by a big top-10 showdown. Sixth-ranked Grandview starts league play on the road at No. 4 Smoky Hill. Arguably the top junior in the state, Jalen Weaver of the Buffaloes, will get this years first look at the Grandview two headed monster of seniors Caleb McGill and Lian Ramiro.

• An 8-1 start for Eaglecrest results in a move up to No. 2 in 5A. That start includes two out of state wins in the New Mexico Holiday tournament. The Raptors will start league play with a visit from Overland in another top 10 battle. Overland is known for coach Danny Fisher's team defense and they'll need it with Zion Ruckard, Skylar Wilson, and Ty Robinson all scoring in double figures for the Raptors this season.

• Jeffco teams will also be in action as 4A No. 4 Golden faces Littleton. The Demons will look to push the pace as their 67 points per game is a full 10 points more than the Lions' average.

• Denver East held steady at No. 3 in the 5A poll. The Fever Crew got to see the new-look Angels live at Mullen during their holiday tournament and sophomore Langston Reynolds gets some well-deserved attention from opponents. But the Angels have a lot more than just Reynolds in fellow sophomore Quis Davis, junior Boston Stanton, and senior leader PJ Steed. The Angels take on Standley Lake.

• No team in the state has more momentum than No. 1, unbeaten Rangeview. After going 4-0 in their division of the Tarkanian Classic, the Raiders came home and won a tough road test at Columbine on Saturday. They head to Northglenn and will be looking to keep that road warrior mentality alive.

• Valor Christian's 3-5 record can be deceiving. The Eagles are playing hard and they proved it in a tough overtime loss to Smoky Hill on Saturday. Valor is another team that journeyed out of state and went 1-3 in Las Vegas Tarkanian Classic. The Eagles have been competitive in every game and will need their best against visiting No. 4 Lincoln and the duo of TJ Bamba and Ty Foster.

• Columbine's lone loss on the season came against Rangeview last Saturday and the Rebels are dealing with some injuries but will still count on CU-bound Luke O'Brien to carry a heavy load in a visit from Castle View.

• Arapahoe went from unranked to a 7-1 record and joined the 5A poll at No. 7 this week. The Warriors will be tested in league early as Mullen pays a visit.

• Another 7-1 squad off to an early strong start is No. 8 Ralston Valley, another newcomer to the 5A top 10. The Mustangs will be tested as Legend comes in at 6-3.

Thursday, Jan. 9

• The top-ranked team in 4A, Cheyenne Mountain, may have the best overall player in the state in New Mexico Lobo-bound senior Javonte Johnson. Johnson earns every ounce of praise because of his effort on both ends of the floor.

• Mead is back at it again and faces Skyline (5-2) in Game 2 of the week for them.

• After taking the top spot in the 4A poll, Harrison has dropped a couple notches after a surprising loss to Pueblo West. The Panthers look to bounce back against Elizabeth. Donta Dawson is averaging 20 points and eight rebounds for Harrison.

• One of the more intriguing matchups of the night is defending 4A champion Lewis-Palmer taking on perennial 5A power Chaparral. Eddie Speller Jr. is playing well, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game for L-P. The Rangers will need that, and maybe more, to beat the Wolverines.

Friday, Jan. 10

• The Fever Crew got to see a lot of No. 9 Fairview at the Cherry Creek Holiday Classic in December and they have a stud in junior Greyson Carter who is averaging 17 points per game. The Knights will head into the weekend with a game against Loveland.

• Friday will feature a lot of action from ranked Centennial League teams. Eaglecrest heads to Mullen and Arapahoe travels to Grandview. Both games are worth the price of admission.

• Falcon hosts No. 5 Lewis Palmer in southern action.

• Neither team is ranked but that won't stop this from being a fun game when George Washington heads south to ThunderRidge.

• Cherokee Trail had some early season injuries and will be a tougher team than the record shows. That will be the case against Smoky Hill. Cherry Creek won't fall for Overland's 3-5 record coming into the week. The Bruins know they're in for a heavyweight match against the Trailblazers every time out. The dynamic will be a blast with Ike Graham on the inside for Overland and Cherry Creek relying on the the perimeter play of Hammond, Purchase and Cole

Saturday, Jan. 11

• How cool is this for Denver and the northeast part of town? Only playing varsity hoops for a couple of years, Northfield has risen to No. 8 in the latest 4A poll and hosts Thompson Valley at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

• There is plenty of fun afternoon action as Mead takes on Battle Mountain and Columbine takes on Regis. Will the Raiders still be looking for first win?

• In 2013 we called it the "leather vs. blue jean" game (had to be there). Arapahoe will get no top 10 respect from Heritage in this rivalry game.

• Rangeview will be in action against Brighton at 3:30 p.m.

• The Lincoln Lancers and TJ Bamba's 25 points per game head east to take on Vista Peak.

• Cheyenne Mountain is hosting Vista Ridge at 6 p.m. and Vista will have to deal with Johnson's 29 points per game.

• All of those Saturday times listed above were nothing but a set up for the 7 p.m. finale as Chaparral visits No. 3 Denver East. This game has it all, including seasoned veterans and upcoming young talent.

• These are the Ball Fever Crew top 5A/4A big school boys hoops destinations for the week. Don't get us wrong, there is a ton of top action in every neighborhood CHSAA represents and we hope you are out there supporting! If you aren't as tuned in - we'll be here to help you with a few destinations for the week! Enjoy.