LITTLETON | All the stars might not be present, but the Centennial-Continental Challenge boys basketball tournament appears to be a strong new summer showdown.
Teams from the two leagues widely considered annually the toughest from top to bottom get together for a new three-day head-to-head tournament Thursday through Saturday at Heritage High School.
The way each league is set up makes head-to-head matchups difficult during the winter season with the exception of a few in non-league play, so Heritage head coach Jentry Byleveld wanted to bring the teams together during the more flexible summer period to take cracks at one another. Play runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. all three days.
“We’ve got 16 teams committed and there should be some pretty good matchups,” Byleveld said. “This is the first year we’re having it, so it should be a good gauge. I know we have probably many of the best basketball teams in the state.”
Coach Danny Fisher’s Overland team — which made it further than any other Aurora team last year when it lost to eventual Class 5A state champion Denver East in the semifinals — plus John Olander’s Great 8 Eaglecrest team, Keenon Clement’s fantastic-finishing Smoky Hill group and playoff qualifying outfits from Cherokee Trail and Grandview represent Aurora among the eight Centennial League teams in the field, while coach Ken Shaw’s Regis Jesuit team is the lone city team among the eight Continental League entries.
Cherokee Trail coach Morgan Gregory will turn coaching duties over to his junior varsity coach due to a scheduled trip and Fisher — who said he’s “excited” about the tournament — will likely coach a team without stars De’Ron Davis and Austin Conway, but plenty of talent is still expected to be on hand.
Some great matchups await on the first day alone, as Eaglecrest faces off against Mountain Vista at 2 p.m. in a rematch of teams that played each other in the Great 8 round of last season’s 5A state playoffs as well as the Final Four the previous season. The Raptors beat the Golden Eagles on their way to winning the 2012-13 5A state title, while Mountain Vista triumphed in overtime last season before it lost in the semifinals.
Among other storylines, new coach Michael Rogers puts his Grandview team through its paces with two games a day. Rogers took over for Gary Childress, who stepped down in the offseason after 16 seasons with the Wolves.
Only one all-Aurora matchup is slated for the opening day when Cherokee Trail battles Regis Jesuit at 11 a.m. The Raiders also play Eaglecrest and Grandview on the final day.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014 CENTENNIAL VS. CONTINENTAL CHALLENGE SCHEDULE
All games at Heritage High School, home teams listed first (Aurora teams bold and uppercased)
Thursday, June 19
MAIN GYM TIME AUX. GYM
Cherry Creek vs. ThunderRidge 8-9 a.m. Mullen vs. Heritage
Heritage vs. Cherry Creek 9-10 a.m. ThunderRidge vs. Mullen
CHEROKEE TRAIL vs. H. Ranch 10-11 a.m. Arapahoe vs. REGIS JESUIT
Arapahoe vs. H. Ranch 11 a.m.-Noon CHER. TRAIL vs. REGIS JESUIT
Rock Canyon vs. SMOKY HILL Noon-1 p.m. Chaparral vs. OVERLAND
Chaparral vs. SMOKY HILL 1-2 p.m. Rock Canyon vs. OVERLAND
Mountain Vista vs. EAGLECREST 2-3 p.m. Legend vs. GRANDVIEW
Legend vs. EAGLECREST 3-4 p.m. Mountain Vista vs. GRANDVIEW
Friday, June 20
MAIN GYM TIME AUX. GYM
EAGLECREST vs. Rock Canyon 8-9 a.m. Arapahoe vs. Chaparral
Arapahoe vs. Rock Canyon 9-10 a.m. EAGLECREST vs. Chaparral
OVERLAND vs. Mtn. Vista 10-11 a.m. SMOKY HILL vs. Legend
OVERLAND vs. Legend 11 a.m.-Noon Mountain Vista vs. SMOKY HILL
GRANDVIEW vs. T-Ridge Noon-1 p.m. Heritage vs. CHEROKEE TRAIL
GRANDVIEW vs. Heritage 1-2 p.m. ThunderRidge vs. CHER. TRAIL
Cherry Creek vs. REGIS JESUIT 2-3 p.m. Mullen vs. Highlands Ranch
Mullen vs. REGIS JESUIT 3-4 p.m. Cherry Creek vs. Highlands Ranch
Saturday, June 21
MAIN GYM TIME AUX. GYM
OVERLAND vs. T-Ridge 8-9 a.m. Heritage vs. SMOKY HILL
SMOKY HILL vs. T-Ridge 9-10 a.m. OVERLAND vs. Heritage
EAGLECREST vs. REGIS JESUIT 10-11 a.m. High. Ranch vs. GRANDVIEW
EAGLECREST vs. High. Ranch 11 a.m.-Noon GRANDVIEW vs. REGIS JESUIT
Mullen vs. Chaparral Noon-1 p.m. Cherry Creek vs. Rock Canyon
Mullen vs. Rock Canyon 1-2 p.m. Cherry Creek vs. Chaparral
CHER. TRAIL vs. Legend 2-3 p.m. Arapahoe vs. Mtn. Vista
Arapahoe vs. Legend 3-4 p.m. CHER. TRAIL vs. Mtn. Vista