AURORA | At least one city team will take the floor at the Coors Events Center on March 14 in the Class 5A boys basketball Final Four, given two will play each other in one of Friday night’s Great 8 contests.
Top-seeded Overland and second-seeded Rangeview square off at 4 p.m. at the Denver Coliseum for the right to represent the Bill Weimer Region in the semifinals in Boulder.
Second-seeded Eaglecrest — the defending 5A state champion — faces top-seeded Mountain Vista in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap to decide the winner of the Ray Ball Region.
The following is a brief preview of each of the 5A Great 8 contests involving Aurora teams:
(2) RANGEVIEW (22-3) vs. (1) OVERLAND (19-6), 4 p.m.
The two Aurora schools — which haven’t played each other in basketball since 2007-08 — meet in the postseason in another major sport, as Rangeview and Overland played in the Class 5A state football playoffs in the fall. Junior Austin Conway quarterbacked the Overland football team to a victory in that contest and he’ll try to help coach Danny Fisher’s Trailblazers win in their first trip to the state basketball Great 8 in 20 years. Conway scored 17 points in Overland’s 67-59 victory over Dakota Ridge in the Sweet 16 and got plenty of help in the scoring column from sophomore center De’Ron Davis (14 points) and senior guard T’Aren Williams (13 points). Davis added seven rebounds and nine blocked shots in the victory and is the team leader in scoring (15.2 ppg), rebounding (9.0 rpg) and blocks (3.6 bpg) this season. Fisher believes the play of Williams — the team’s typical defensive stopper — on the offense end has been a key to Overland’s nine-game winning streak, as has the inside play of junior Ryan Swan. The Trailblazers are deep, particularly in the backcourt. Fisher maintains that is his team is playing well, but “we’re a young team, we can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody.” On the other side of the contest is Rangeview and coach Shawn Palmer, who has the Raiders in the Great 8 for the third time in the past four seasons and is looking to make the 5A semifinals again after making it in the 2011-12 season. The Raiders earned a chance with a rousing 88-85 double-overtime win over Chaparral in the Sweet 16. Senior Jeremiah Paige — a Colorado State signee — continued a recent scoring binge with a 34-point effort against the Wolverines, but the Raiders’ reserves came through in the decisive moments after Paige (23.3 ppg) fouled out. Senior Trey Bridges keeps Rangeview on schedule and provides a solid scoring punch to boot at 13.2 points per game. Juniors Jalen Davis and Tarren Storey-Way have been vital given the huge teams the Raiders have faced thus far in the postseason (Chaparral and Montbello). Junior Tim Wyatt made 4 3-pointers and scored 17 points against Chaparral, while sophomore Tyrei Randall had seven big points off the bench in double overtime, giving Palmer confidence if he has to go to the bench. The winner advances to face Denver East or Highlands Ranch in the 5A semifinals on March 14 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
(2) EAGLECREST (18-6) vs. (1) MOUNTAIN VISTA (24-1), 8:30 p.m.
Eaglecrest and Mountain Vista meet for the second straight season deep in the Class 5A state playoffs, as they squared off in last season’s Final Four in Boulder. Coach John Olander’s Raptors prevailed in that matchup and continued on to take the state championship. Both teams featured largely different casts from last season, but both have continued to win. Olander’s take on the Golden Eagles: “They get out and run, pass the ball ahead a lot like Chatfield (the team the Raptors played in the Sweet 16), so we had good practice in a game playing a team that wants to get out and run and attack the basket. They really attack it hard and get out and run and they’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot it.” Mountain Vista has four players averaging double figures coming into the game in Jake Pemberton (18.9 ppg), Brady Subart (12.8 ppg), Carson Simon (11.5 ppg) and Graham Smith (11.4 ppg), plus another just on the verge in Jonathan Moore (9.4 ppg) and thrive on scoring quickly and in transition. Eaglecrest usually plays lower-scoring, defensive type of games, but doesn’t mind getting out and running as well. Senior Jaisean Jackson — who has shown a penchant for coming through in the clutch — leads the Raptors with an average of 13.8 points per game, just ahead of junior Blend Avdili (13.2 ppg), the team’s leading rebounder at 6.8 per contest. Avdili battled through a split chin that required seven stitches in the win over Chatfield. Senior LaDerian King and junior Elijah Ross give Eaglecrest an extremely athletic backcourt capable of keeping up with anybody and the Raptors have a variety of role players such as seniors Marquel Murphy and Treyvon Williams, junior Peter Anderson and freshman Colbey Ross who can all impact games at critical junctures. The winner advances to face Fossil Ridge or Arapahoe in the 5A semifinals on March 14 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel