Coach: Chris Dolan, 2nd season
2012-13 record: 10-14 overall (missed Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Carra Jackson-Brown, 5-foot-9, G/F, sr.; Ajanee Robinson, 5-7, F, sr.; Haylee Fleck, 5-9, F, sr.
2013-14 Outlook: In the aftermath of the 2011-12 season — in which Rangeview won 21 games and captured the East Metro Athletic Conference championship, the first-ever league title for the program — last season marked a bit of a rebuilding for the Raiders, who finished 10-14 in the first season under new coach Chris Dolan. Graduation of several key parts from the previous season thrust a variety of different faces into new roles and those players get a chance to put what they learned into effect this season, though Dolan is taking a wait-and-see approach to how it will turn out. Only two seniors graduated from last season’s team, but one was an All-East Metro Athletic Conference first team selection in senior G Brittani Craig. Senior G/F Carra Jackson looks to build off her second team All-EMAC performance last season, when she led the Raiders in both scoring at 10 points per game and rebounding with 5.7 rebounds per contest, in addition to 2.3 steals each time out. Senior F Ajanee Robinson became a focal point last season for Rangeview, as she averaged 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, but was particularly good on the defensive end, especially in terms of forcing turnovers with several games of double-digit steals. The Raiders have a variety of sophomores and freshmen who are trying to find their roles.
Coach: Carl Mattei, 11th season
2012-13 record: 26-2 overall (won Class 5A state championship)
Players to watch: Diani Akigbogun, 6-foot, F, sr.; Justine Hall, 5-10, G, sr.; Kelsi Lidge, 5-9, F, sr.; Jordan Molyneaux, 6-4, P, sr.; Anna Ptasinski, 5-10, G, sr.; Neffie Lockley, 5-8, G, sr.; Jess Lewis, 5-9, G, jr.; Cheyenne Cleveland, 5-9, F, sr.
2013-14 Outlook: An almost embarrassing amount of riches exist for Regis Jesuit coach Carl Mattei, who returns his entire cast from the group that won last season’s Class 5A state championship — the second in program history — by defeating Continental League rival Highlands Ranch in the 5A final. Seven of the nine players on the 2013-14 roster signed national athletic letters of intent to play college basketball, including six headed to Division I programs, much of the reason several pundits have ranked Regis Jesuit among the top 10 teams in the country. Leading the way among the returnees is senior F Diani Akigbogun, a 6-foot physical force in the paint who won Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year and Aurora Sentinel Player of the Year honors last season as she averaged 13.7 point and 8.1 rebounds per game, which helped her secure a scholarship with Texas. Senior G Justine Hall, who led the team in scoring last season at 17 points per game and joined Akigbogun on the All-Continental League and All-City first teams, is headed to a NCAA women’s top-25 program in Purdue, while senior G Kelsi Lidge — a fearless and versatile player who holds things together at key times on both ends of the floor — is headed to Drexel, senior P Jordan Molyneaux (7.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg), like Lidge an all-league second teamer a year ago, signed with Seton Hall, senior G Anna Ptasinski with Lafayette and senior F Neffie Lockley is set to play for Howard. Senior F Cheyenne Cleveland will play her first varsity minutes this season, but has a scholarship to Bethany (Kan.) College locked up. Junior G Jess Lewis earned honorable mention All-Continental League honors last season when she averaged 3.2 assists per game and will resume the important point guard duties again for Regis Jesuit, which has a brutal schedule of play outside of Colorado lined up courtesy of Mattei.
Coach: DeWayne Brandon, 4th season
2012-13 record: 10-15 overall (lost in 1st round of Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Sarah Milafsky, 5-foot-8, G, sr.; Brooke Zimmerman, 5-11, F/C, sr.; Janay Henderson, 5-9, F, jr.; Brynell Yount, 5-8, G, jr.
2013-14 Outlook: Quietly, the Smoky Hill program is working on a streak of five consecutive trips to the Class 5A state playoffs and took a definite step forward last season under coach DeWayne Brandon. Not only did the Buffaloes crack double figures in the win column at 10-15, but the 10th victory came in the playoffs, when Smoky Hill downed Liberty for its first postseason win in several seasons before a second round loss to eventual state champion Regis Jesuit. The Buffaloes lost a few players to graduation and are without a couple of players who transferred away, but return a good deal of experience, including the team’s leading scorer in senior G Sarah Milafsky and leading rebounder in senior F/C Brooke Zimmerman. Milafsky drained 41 3-pointers last season — the second-most of any player in Aurora — and finished with an average of 10.8 points per game, earning her way onto the All-Centennial League second team, doing all of that while playing out of position at point guard. Brandon is looking to get even more scoring from his top offensive threat by playing her almost exclusively at shooting guard this season. The 5-11 Zimmerman snatched more rebounds than any other player in the city — 225 in all, an average of 9.0 per game — and received an honorable mention all-league nod and will be needed to do more of the same due to Smoky Hill’s overall lack of height, but she should also contribute more on the offensive end this season. Junior F Janay Henderson added 6.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest last season and is a blossoming scorer and versatile junior F Brynell Yount — coming off an outstanding cross country season — has the fitness level and ballhandling skills to push the Buffaloes up and down the floor at times. While depth is a concern, Brandon believes the experience and athleticism his team has could push the Buffaloes higher than the fifth-place finish they posted last season in the Centennial League.
Coach: Matt Borushko, 2nd season
2012-13 record: 3-21 overall (missed Class 4A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Jaylynn Johnson, 5-foot-10, C, soph.; Aliyah Carter, G, jr.; Maliah Kennedy, G, jr.
2013-14 Outlook: The Bison made their debut at the varsity level last season and coach Matt Borushko’s incredibly young team suffered the expected growing pains on its way to a 3-21 record — with two of the victories coming against Englewood — though it did appear in the Class 4A state tournament. Even though Vista PEAK has a senior class for the first time this season, there aren’t any on the 2013-14 roster, which is heavy with juniors with a sprinkling of sophomores and freshmen. Junior G Aliyah Carter is one of the team’s captains and averaged 5.1 points per game last season while leading the team with an 84 percent mark at the free throw line. Sophomore F Jaylynn Johnson, also a volleyball standout at the school, is a strong member of the Bison frontcourt and is the team’s top returning scorer with an average of 6.5 points per game and scored in double figures four times last season, while she’s also Vista PEAK’s strongest threat on the glass. Junior G Maliah Kennedy is the team’s top returning perimeter threat. The Bison allowed the most points of all the teams in the 4A/3A Colorado 7 conference last season, so tightening down on opponents could help them climb up after they finished sixth out of seven teams last season.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sports