Coach: Shawn Palmer, 11th season
2012-13 season: 20-5 overall (lost in Sweet 16 of Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Jeremiah Paige, 6-foot-3, G, sr.; Trey Bridges, 6-0, G, sr.; Tarren Storey-Way, 6-3, F, jr.; Tim Wyatt, 6-0, G, jr.; Jalen Davis, 6-3, F, jr.
2013-14 Outlook: A lot of star power graduated from Aurora schools last season, including five of the city boys basketball players selected to The Show All-Star game at the Pepsi Center, but one of those back is Rangeview senior G Jeremiah Paige, who signed his national athletic letter of intent with Colorado State a few weeks before the opening of the new season. With Paige back as the focal point and some more experience back in the fold, coach Shawn Palmer has a group that comes into the season expected to remain at a high level. The CHSAANow.com Class 5A coaches/media preseason poll has Rangeview rated No. 5, with a large part of that likely due to the presence of Paige, who averaged just a shade under 20 points per game last season and did anything the Raiders needed on either end of the floor. Paige is one of only two of the seven Aurora players selected for The Show all-star game that didn’t graduate along with Overland sophomore C De’Ron Davis. Senior G Trey Bridges also returns as part of a very veteran backcourt and has the chance to improve on his numbers all across the board. Junior F Tarren Storey-Way missed a decent amount of action last season as he recovered from a broken hand, but the lanky 6-foot-3 forward used his length to be a factor late in the season and will be crucial on the boards with the graduation of C Tim Ealy. Junior G Tim Wyatt saw some varsity action last season, while players such as junior F Jalen Davis have the opportunity to step forward and contribute to a team that should be favored to win the East Metro Athletic Conference championship.
Coach: Ken Shaw, 7th season
2012-13 record: 21-5 overall (lost in Great 8 round of Class 5A state tournament)
Players to watch: Bryan Staerkel, 6-foot-2, F, jr.; Devin Kadillak, 6-0, G/F, sr.; Zach Smith, 6-0, G, sr.; Kip Boryla, 6-5, C, jr.; Elijah Sanford, 6-3, F/C, jr.; Taylor Kallsen, 5-10, G, jr. Cam Beards, 5-7, G, jr.; Vaughn Samson, 6-3, G, jr.; Geoff Kelly, 6-5, F, soph.; Jared Small, 6-5, F, soph.
2013-14 Outlook: Veteran coach Ken Shaw feels good about the roster he has at Regis Jesuit coming into the new season, even though some on the outside might expect some decline with star G Josh Perkins‘ decision to transfer to Huntington Prep in West Virginia for his senior season. The Raiders — ranked No. 7 in the CHSAANow.com preseason Class 5A coaches/media poll — will certainly miss the elite talent of Perkins, a point guard who has signed to play next season at Gonzaga, but the balance and depth Shaw expects his team to demonstrate this season should help them remain among the top teams in the Continental League and a perennial threat for a deep run in the Class 5A state playoffs. Regis Jesuit will have to make up for the 25.8 points per game Perkins provided last season, but return nearly the remainder of its offense from last season with a number of players who look forward to picking up some of the slack. Junior F Bryan Staerkel shot a high percentage from the field last season and averaged 9.3 points per game, while junior C Kip Boryla was good for 7.7 points per contest and senior G/F Devin Kadillak averaged 6.9 points each time out. Staerkel, Kadillak and senior G Zach Smith — a reserve last season who will move into the starting lineup — all can knock down 3-point shots and should give defenses plenty to be concerned about from the perimeter, while Boryla and junior F/C Elijah Sanford thrive on the offensive glass and have developed more offensive moves of their own. Traditionally, Shaw keeps his playing rotations tight, but the blossoming of a number of young players — a trio of juniors in the backcourt in G Taylor Kallsen, G Cam Beards (who is expected to miss some time in the early season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL) and G Vaughn Samson, plus a pair of 6-foot-5 sophomores in F Geoff Kelly and F Jared Small — may prompt him to give as many as 10 players minutes during given games. Shaw still believes the Raiders can contend in the Continental League, in which they are 53-2 over the past two seasons.
Coach: Keenon Clement, 6th season
2012-13 record: 5-19 overall (missed Class 5A state tournament)
Players to watch: Trent Clay, 6-foot-4, G, sr.; Chris Williams, 6-1, G, jr.; Unwana Ekiko, 6-0, F, sr.; Colby Johnson, 6-0, G, sr.; Connor Mooney, 6-0, G, sr.
2013-14 Outlook: Among programs around the Centennial League, coach Keenon Clement had one of the smallest amounts of turnovers, as all but two players who saw any time on the varsity floor last season are back in the fold this season. The group is more mature physically and Clement is excited by the fact that every player on the roster stands 6-foot or taller, though the Buffaloes aren’t loaded with top-end height. The mental game of the returning Buffaloes is also another year more mature, though they haven’t broken all the “bad habits” Clement saw from them last season in terms of shot selection and decision making. The hard work the group put in during the offseason and the built in chemistry it brings back could be an advantage as the Buffaloes seek to get back closer to the 11 wins they got in 2011-12 versus the five they came away with last season. Senior G Trent Clay returns after a season in which he averaged 15 points per game (plus a team-best 6.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals) and made the All-Centennial League second team, looking to again provide perimeter prowess as well as leadership. Senior G Chris Williams will be charged with a bigger role on the defensive end this season, but should also contribute similar or improved offense to last season, when the all-league honorable mention selection poured in 10.9 points per contest. Senior F Unwana Ekiko, senior G Colby Johnson and senior G Connor Mooney — one of the team’s primary perimeter threats — each figure to be key parts of the puzzle again this season for Smoky Hill, while Clement doesn’t expect a significant drop off if he has to go to his bench due to foul trouble or injury.
Coach: Josh Brenning, 2nd season
2012-13 record: 9-15 overall (lost in first round of Class 4A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Romello Washington, 5-foot-11, G, sr.; Noah Butler, 6-2, G, jr.; Ayo Sanusi, 5-10, G, sr.; Isaiah Young, 6-4, F, jr.; DJ Ortiz, 6-4, C/F, sr.; Alex Hawkins, 5-9, G, soph.
2013-14 Outlook: Coach Josh Brenning learned a lot about his Vista PEAK team last season, when it debuted at the varsity level. He learned that he had an extremely athletic group that could keep up with a lot of the teams it went against, but the mental part of game was and still is a work in progress. The Bison finished sixth out of seven teams in the Colorado 7 conference, but got to experience postseason play in its first season — losing to Discovery Canyon in the first round of the 4A playoffs — and didn’t graduate any players from the squad that played in that game. The school has a senior class for the first time and it will be a valuable part of the program’s progress this season, especially with the arrival of senior G Romello Washington, who transferred from Kennedy, where he starred last season. The 6-foot Washington led the Commanders in 3-pointers made last season on his way to an average of 14.3 points per contest, which Brenning believes could rise in the Vista PEAK system. The Bison also have back both players who averaged in double figures last season in junior G Noah Butler (12.0 ppg) and junior F Isaiah Young (11.0 ppg), making for a group which could improve significantly on the average of 46.3 points per game it had a year ago. Young and senior C/F DJ Ortiz each averaged 8.2 rebounds per game a year ago and give Vista PEAK some good bodies on the inside, while senior G Ayo Sanusi and sophomore G Alex Hawkins bolster the backcourt in a variety of ways.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel