DENVER | Aurora has a 75 percent chance of calling the Class 5A boys state basketball champion home, but the bet may be just about a sure thing given how the fantastic 2015-16 season has unfolded.
Eaglecrest, Overland and Rangeview — all No. 1 seeds in their respective regionals — posted victories Saturday on a lengthy day of Class 5A Great 8 action at the Denver Coliseum and forms three-fourths of the group bound for the 5A Final Four March 11 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Chatfield, the No. 2 seed out of the Chauncey Billups Region is the non-Aurora interloper in the semifinal group that will play off for this season’s state championship over a two-day span. Game times for the Final Four games will be announced Sunday by the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Aurora had pretty good odds going into the quarterfinal games with five total teams in the field, but there wasn’t room in the Final Four for No. 2 seeds Cherokee Trail and Regis Jesuit, which saw their own outstanding seasons come to an end.
In the opener, Rangeview demonstrated the depth and balance that has characterized coach Shawn Palmer’s run through and undefeated regular season and through the first three rounds of the postseason.
The Raiders — who topped the Cougars by four points during a regular season meeting — ended up eventually gaining some separation in the second half and closed out a 75-64 victory.
Seniors Tyrei Randall and EJ Reed piled up 18 points apiece, Elijah Blake added 13 and Kris Hollins and Marquis Kraemer 10 apiece in another multi-dimentional effort for Rangeview, which made it back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.
Coach Morgan Gregory’s Cherokee Trail team got a monster 26-point effort from senior David Thornton, plus 16 from senior Ronnie Barfield and 13 from junior Jaizec Lottie, who battled foul trouble most of the game.
The Cougars remain in search of their first-ever trip to the Final Four, having lost to Mountain Vista in overtime in the 2013 5A Great 8 and to Ralston Valley in the 4A Great 8 in 2008.
Next up was Overland, which took another step towards the defense of last season’s state championship with an impressive 69-50 victory over second-seeded Doherty to reach the Final Four for a third-straight season.
Senior De’Ron Davis dunked on the Trailblazers’ opening possession of the game and carried the momentum to a 24-point effort that also saw him connect on three 3-pointers, plus one that turned into a four-point play.
Senior Jervae Robinson chipped in 14 points and senior Padiet Wang made it three players in double figures for coach Danny Fisher’s Overland team with 10 points.
The nightcap saw Eaglecrest and Regis Jesuit battle it out until the fourth quarter, when coach John Olander’s Raptors managed to pull away from coach Ken Shaw’s Raiders.
Junior Ikenna Ozor tallied a game-high 22 points and junior Colbey Ross — who sat for large stretches of the first and second halves due to foul trouble — played the closer with 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Appearing in the Great 8 for the fourth straight season, Eaglecrest earned its way to the Final Four for the third time in the span as it eyes a state championship to go with its 2013 crown.
Sophomore Elijah Martinez poured in 20 points and seniors Geoff Kelly and Michael Wambsganss contributed 13 points apiece for Regis Jesuit.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2016 CLASS 5A BOYS STATE BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Great 8 (March 5 at Denver Coliseum)
No. 2 Chatfield 63, No. 4 Cherry Creek 55
NO. 1 RANGEVIEW 75, NO. 2 CHEROKEE TRAIL 64
NO. 1 OVERLAND 69, No. 2 Doherty 50
NO. 1 EAGLECREST 69, NO. 2 REGIS JESUIT 57
SEMIFINALS (March 11 at Coors Events Center)
NO. 1 EAGLECREST (24-2) vs. NO. 1 RANGEVIEW (26-0), TBA
No. 2 Chatfield (24-2) vs. NO. 1 OVERLAND (23-3), TBA
CHAMPIONSHIP (March 12 at Coors Events Center)
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m.