Welcome back, hoop fans!
We were treated to another exciting Sweet 16 and Great 8 again in our big school 5A and 4A hoops. In 5A, the Top 4 seeds all qualified for the Coliseum on Friday, but in 4A we had a few upsets and none bigger than the lowest seed still alive, Frederick, upsetting the champion in Mead title at home. That’s why we play games! Let’s dive into perhaps our best hoops day in Colorado boys basketball: The Final 4!
5A Final 4
No. 1 ThunderRidge vs. No. 4 Denver East
The Grizzlies and Angels have typically found themselves in tournament or non-league games at the start of the season, but this year they waited until the real stakes were in play. Both teams arrive with identical 24-2 records. and we probably won’t have to worry about wishing for a shot clock, as both teams are averaging 68 points per game and usually more.
T-Ridge has only one loss in the state to rival Chaparral and that was a month ago. In the six games since the loss to Chap, T-Ridge has bested those six opponents by an impressive total of 102 points. Big man Zach Keller (Wake Forest commitment) is the anchor inside the Grizzlies. Keller’s 15 points per game is far from the only concern when playing T-Ridge, as Jackson Brennan brings the ability to cut and score with the ability of the team’s leading rebounder, Andrew Crawford, to play. above the edge. The joker for the Grizz may be 6-foot-7 senior Joey Biello who can score from inside and outside.
The Angels will have to fight T-Ridge’s overall height with their team’s speed. Zy’Quis Davis is a lightning-fast playmaker who can blast most defenders or shoot most guards from behind the arc. He can be an isolation nightmare for opponents. The Angels’ leading scorer this year is D’Aundre Samuels at 6-foot-2, leading the team to 18 points per game. With brother Darus Samuels, only a sophomore, the Angels can go out and run with anyone. The size for the East comes from senior Aguirr Dwam who is a classic “stretch 4” type who has a shot from the outside but can also go for an oop driveway.
A classic “town vs. suburb” game with two of our state’s most respected veteran coaches and the atmosphere will be electric for this final game of Friday night.
Fossil Ridge #2 vs. Chaparral #3
This December rematch should be another fun beat at the Colosseum with two teams unafraid to “up and down” the floor. The Sabercats picked up a 67-63 home-and-away victory at the Chap in December. Fossil Ridge started that one off with a fast start, going up 19-14 to open the first quarter and that set the tone for the road win.
Fittingly, senior guard Brock Mishak is getting a lot of attention from his opponents with his smooth shot. He scored 17 points in the December contest, but it was junior Nick Randall’s incredible 14-for-15 from the field and 29 points that really propelled the Sabercats to that early-season victory. Also keep an eye out for “bouncy” 6-foot-3 junior Domenic Leone who put the Great 8 crowd on their feet with some sensational dunks last weekend.
Solid guard game? You’ll be hard pressed to find someone as hot as Chap senior Luke Williams, who exploded to a 30-point night in Chap’s impressive comeback against Eaglecrest last week. Williams may have to repeat that type of scoring in this one and he led Chap 15 points down in the first battle. Williams’ running mate is 6-foot-8 big man Joel Speckman, who is averaging a “double-double” of 15 points and 11 rebounds this season. The Wolverines will need all of that from their big two and supporting players to avenge the December loss.
You can be assured that both teams are pouring into this December play movie, but keep in mind that both teams have improved a lot.
4A Final 4
No. 1 Lewis Palmer vs. No. 5 Pueblo Central
Two teams unfamiliar with each other in this one and track shoe pace should be on display with Pueblo Central averaging nearly 80 points per outing and Lewis Palmer averaging 72. Despite Pueblo South entering the playoffs undefeated, Lewis Palmer locked up the No. 1 seed with their only loss of the season at 5A Chaparral.
If scoring is your thing, grab the popcorn and enjoy watching Rangers’ Cameron Lowe, who is averaging 18 points per game this season. Not to be outdone, Kadyn Betts of the Wildcats, a 6-foot-8 junior, is averaging a “double-double” on the season of 22 points and 12 rebounds with 3.5 blocks for good measure. An exciting match of two teams traveling north to the Colosseum which we plan to descend to the wire.
No. 2 Pueblo South vs. No. 6 Frederick
The “Fever Crew” is not a fan of slowdown hoops, we want to see these awesome athletes move up and down the court. We have two other teams that won’t disappoint in Frederick and Pueblo South, averaging 70 and 78 respectively. Pueblo South had every right to believe they won the No. 1 seed in 4A after their perfect regular season, but something tells us that may have just added fuel to the fire. Want to talk about a team that can get away from you? How about the Colts beating their opponents in 25 games from 2035-1016…simply unheard of.
Frederick avenging an early-season loss to Mead with a 66-56 road win in the Sweet 16 was high-level ball in that type of atmosphere. I can’t wait to see what this team has to offer and what the game plan will be to stop the Pueblo South Austin brothers, sophomore Maurice and senior Tarrance, who both average over 20 points for the Colts. Young Maurice is an absolute ruling machine with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals per game, sheesh. Frederick will rely on their balance with five top class men who are averaging eight or more points, led by junior Luke Justice at 13 points per game.
It will be good, friends! We have 4A teams that can absolutely compete with any team in the state regardless of division and in 5A the top four seeds went as planned by the regions. Looking forward to a memorable weekend. Come support!