Ball Fever: Previewing the 5A boys basketball Great 8

It's that time, folks! #MileHighMadness has arrived and after our COVID-shortened season the postseason in our big school Class 5A boys hoops has not let us down in terms of excitement.

Down to our Great 8, our four quadrants are boasting three undefeated squads, rematches, and some who will see each other for the third time. Familiarity will breed some great games and memories, we're sure!

Quadrant 1

(Steve Abeyta)

They always say it's hard to beat a team three times in the same season but that's exactly what our overall No. 1 seed Cherry Creek Bruins will try to day when they host Eaglecrest. In their first match up the Bruins jumped out to a 22-8 first quarter advantage that led to a 9-point home win. The Raptors didn't allow that fast of a start in the second tilt but still lost to the Bruins at home by seven.

This game is littered with two sport studs and the 16-0 Bruins rely heavily on their back court tandem of Myles Purchase and Julian Hammond.

Purchase, affectionately known as THE HEARTBEAT of 2021 in our camp, is the defensive heart and engine of the Bruins while Hammond is as slick and smooth of a scorer as you will find anywhere averaging 23 points per game.

Another D1-bound athlete, Arden Walker, controls the paint and leads the Bruins in rebounding.

The Raptors have a "freakish" athlete of their own in Ty Robinson who is worth the price of admission for his above-the-rim action and averaging 16 points per game on the season himself. It will take a supreme effort from Robinson and crew to knock off No. 1 in their house.

Quadrant 2

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

In a year where we've gotten used to saying, "that seems weird," it feels very much that way that Chaparral and ThunderRidge haven't faced each other this year. With Chap finishing league play with one loss and the Grizzlies undefeated in league play they'll get to settle the Continental clash in true elimination fashion.

The Wolverines lead man is junior big man Joel Speckman who is almost averaging a double-double on the season with 15 points and 9 rebounds per outing, while the Grizzlies tout strong senior leadership behind assist machine Garrett Arnold at point guard with fellow senior Nolan Marold who is not afraid to bang with the best of them on the inside.

For adding scoring punch, keep an eye on guard Luke Williams from Chap and senior Jason Simental for T-Ridge. Both can score in bunches and make a difference down the stretch!

The Grizzlies boast 4 players who average in double figures and 70 points per game vs. Chap's 59. The question here will be can Chap match the pace and scoring.

Quadrant 3

George Washington Mullen boys basketball

(Austin Hogan-McCool)

This Great 8 Match up doesn't bring a ton of familiarity and no head to head match up to draw on but it's one of the most intriguing "public vs private" "city vs suburb" match that could go right down to the wire. 14-1 Regis will host George Washington in an early 4:30 pm start on Tuesday.

This should be a fun pace with GW averaging 77 points per game and the Raiders not too far behind at 70.

The Patriots have felt disrespected by the polls and rankings all season and this is their chance to make a huge statement for themselves and the city regarding the attention they feel they earned this season.

The Patriots earned impressive mid-season wins over Chaparral and ThunderRidge, teams that join them in the Great 8, although T-Ridge did balance that loss with a tight 3-point win in a March rematch. Nonetheless, the Patriots enter the game with extreme confidence behind Jarmell Johnson (19 points per game) and Trey Edmonds (11 points and 8 rebounds).

The wildcard here for the Patriots could be another senior, Kendale Johnson, who has the ability to step up when it counts.

The Raiders don't boast as many seniors as the Patriots but do have four scoring in double figures on the season led by Michael Wolf and Blakely Stoughton's 18 points per game each.

The floor general dishing assists all season has been Alonzo Paul who scores in double figures along with dishing out 5 assists each night.

The first game of the day may just be the best!

Quadrant 4

Rangeview Eaglecrest boys basketball

(Steve Abeyta/steveabeytaphotography.com)

Might have spoken too soon about Regis/GW maybe being game of the night. Back on February 1, Rock Canyon gave our state's team with the longest winning streak a true scare in a 46-44 thriller that unbeaten Rangeview pulled off late.

The Raiders are veteran heavy and an extremely poised team down the stretch which has led them to winning four games with a margin of four points or less this season. They have been tested but find a way to pull it out in the end.

Got to see them in person when they were down 18-12 to a talented Fountain Fort Carson squad Sweet 16 and they simply didn't panic, just stuck to the game plan and their strengths.

Speaking of strength, it is simply amazing the late run the RC Jags are on late season and doing it without their leading scorer/rebounder DeAngelo Horn (electrifying two sport stud!!). The Jags blew us all away beating a well-coached perennial Ball Fever favorite in Overland by 31 points in round 1 with 17 points from senior Nick Fallin and if that wasn't enough senior PG Fallin followed that performance up with a 35 point explosion at Fossil Ridge — one of our best, senior heavy teams in the state.

There's no doubt the Jags are for real but they'll have to deal with the savvy guards of Rangeview in Cade Palmer, Demajio Merritt, and Chris Watkins. A tough trio on the perimeter and a mainstay Raider down low in Jayden Foster doing all the dirty work!

Palmer paces the crew in scoring at 16 points per night and he'll look to push the Raiders to a faster pace than that 46-44 win back in February.

That pace and heavy weight "sluggin" favors the Jags, can't wait to see if the Raiders can speed this up and continue "The Streak"!