Boys Basketball: Denver East vs. Smoky Hill 5A Sweet 16 preview capsule

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Junior guard Eugene Rivers (15) and the Smoky Hill boys basketball team handled Highlands Ranch 76-52 in a 2017 Class 5A boys state basketball second round playoff game on Feb. 25, 2017. The eighth-seeded Buffaloes welcome in No. 9 Denver East at 7 p.m. March 1 in a 5A Sweet 16 contest. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | Preview capsule for the 2017 Class 5A boys state basketball Sweet 16 matchup of Denver East at Smoky Hill on March 1, 2017:

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

AURORA 2017 BOYS 5A SWEET 16 PREVIEW CAPSULE

NO. 9 DENVER EAST (17-7) AT NO. 8 SMOKY HILL (16-8), 7 P.M.

BREAKDOWN: This Larry Farmer Regional contest pits a Denver East team that has won three of its last four games against a Smoky Hill squad that is working on a five-game winning streak. It’s easily one of the most anticipated matchups in the Sweet 16 round.

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DENVER EAST

DENVER EAST: The Angels dropped a three-point contest against George Washington — the No. 3 overall seed in the 5A playoffs — with the Denver Prep League title on the line Feb. 18, but rebounded with a 72-56 victory over 24th-seeded Fossil Ridge in a second round game on Feb. 25. Coach Rudy Carey’s team set the tone with a 23-9 edge after one quarter against the SaberCats and kept a double-digit lead the rest of the way. Junior G Daylen Kountz — who transferred from George Washington before the season — knocked down four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 37 points for Denver East in its playoff victory, while sophomore G Kwame Marble got to the free throw line eight times and made all eight on his way to 16 points, while senior G Scotty Wiese added eight…For the season, Kountz leads the team in scoring average at 27.2 points per game in the 13 games he’s been able to play since sitting out due to his transfer. He’s been in double figures in every game and scored a combined 79 points in the loss to George Washington and win over Fossil Ridge. Marble is next in scoring average at 13.0 points per game, followed by senior G Jamison Washington at 11.1. Sophomore C Assane Diouf, who stands 7 feet tall, is a major factor with averages of 8.6 points, 7 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game.

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SMOKY HILL

SMOKY HILL: The Buffaloes have come light years from last season’s four-win campaign and they’ve reached the Sweet 16 round of the 5A playoffs for the first time since 2014. Coach Anthony Hardin’s maturing Smoky Hill team flexed its consideration size, athleticism and aggressiveness in a 76-52 win over No. 25 Highlands Ranch in the second round on Feb. 25.  The Buffaloes sparred with the Falcons for a bit before pulling away, including a dunk-filled third quarter that saw them all but put it away. Sophomore F Kenny Foster had a couple of dunks in that period and led the way for Smoky Hill with 15 points, while freshman G Quinten Rock lit it up for 12 points in the first half and finished with 14 and junior F Jahwan Phillips scored in all four quarters on his way to 13…For the season, Foster leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points per game, while he also paces the Buffs in assists (4.3 apg) and steals (1.6 spg). Phillips is just a shade under double figures in scoring average for the season at 9.6, while 6-foot-8 junior C Will Becker has averaged nearly a double-double with 11.3 rebounds per contest to go with 9.3 points, plus 4.4 blocked shots. Rock, junior F John Harge, junior G Eugene Rivers and junior G Mue Muwwakkil all average six points or more and give Smoky Hill quality depth.

WINNER GETS: The Denver East-Smoky Hill winner advances to the Great 8 round at Denver Coliseum on March 4 where it will face the winner of the Sweet 16 game between No. 17 Vista Ridge and top-seeded Eaglecrest. The winner of that game takes the Larry Farmer Regional title and a spot in the Final Four.