AURORA | Capsule preview look at the 2019 Class 5A girls state basketball first round playoff matchups involving Aurora teams set for Feb. 19, 2019 (full bracket, schedule):
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2019 CLASS 5A GIRLS FIRST ROUND CAPSULES
NO. 47 EAGLECREST (7-16) AT NO. 18 FRUITA MONUMENT (15-8), 6 P.M.
Breakdown: Eaglecrest finished 47th in the final Class 5A RPI standings to earn one of the final two spots in the postseason field. The Raptors stretched their playoff streak to five straight seasons and look to win in the opening round for the second time in that span, following their advancement to the second round in 2017. Coach Robby Gabrielli’s Eaglecrest team played 19 games against Colorado teams (with four more against out-of-state teams at the Nike Tournament of Champions) and faced state tournament teams in 14 of those contests, though it won just one game (against No. 26 Far Northeast). The Raptors are led in scoring by senior G Raquel Turner, who has been in double figures six times on the season and averages 7.0 points per contest. Junior G Jadyn Ross is the team’s most prolific outside shooter and is next with an average of 6.2 points per game, while senior G Hidaya Thornton (who is good for nearly four steals per game) is at 5.3 points per game. Junior C Alexis Dixon leads the team in rebounding with an average of 5.8 per contest. …Fruita Monument finished 18th in the final RPI standings, a year after it was No. 1. Coach Michael Wells’ Wildcats played just four teams that made the 5A state tournament and went 3-3 against them, but also went 5-1 against teams that qualified for the 4A state tournament. Fruita Monument graduated its top three scorers from last season season (who accounted for just under 40 points per game), so junior F Callie Allen has picked up some of the scoring slack with an average of 12.2 points per contest. Allen also leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game and has six double-doubles to her credit. Junior F Emily Roberts (7.0 ppg) and junior G Lila Dere (6.1 ppg) round out the team’s top three in scoring.
WINNER GETS: The Eaglecrest-Fruita Monument winner advances to a Feb. 21 5A second round contest at No. 15 Denver East (16-7)
NO. 34 CHEROKEE TRAIL (11-12) AT NO. 31 MONARCH (14-9), 7 P.M.
Breakdown: Cherokee Trail enters the 5A postseason for the first time under new head coach Tammi Traylor-Statewright, but it is the seventh consecutive playoff season for the program. The Cougars haven’t been past the first round of the postseason since 2016, when they defeated Gateway (which was then coached by Traylor-Statewright). Postseason competition should be no stranger to Cherokee Trail, which played 15 of its games against teams that made the 5A state tournament — including three top-10 seeds in No. 4 Cherry Creek, No. 6 Grandview and No. 9 Broomfield — and two more against a 4A state tournament qualifier. The Cougars missed G Makayla Hemingway for all of last season after she suffered a serious knee injury, but she returned for her junior season and has been quite impactful as she leads the team in scoring (14.1 points per game), steals (4.6 per game) and is the co-leader in assists at 2.5 per contest, while her 5.5 rebounds per game ranks second on the team. Cherokee Trail’s three-headed backcourt of Hemingway plus junior G Dominique Rodriguez and junior G Destinee Paulk is the driving force all three average double figures (Rodriguez is at 10.7 ppg, Paulk 10.3 ppg), while senior C Angel Neyland — whose role on the interior expanded with an injury to senior Abbie Sparks — as she’s averaged 9.1 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game — while senior F/C Yolanda Fason, an Albany State signee, averages a handful of rebounds as well. …Monarch finished 31st in the final 5A RPI standings in the wake of a schedule that saw it play 14 different teams that qualified for the 5A state tournament (with a 6-8 mark against them). Coach Gail Hook’s Coyotes come into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak, with all coming to postseason qualifiers. Six-foot-1 senior C/F Emerson Herrmann is a force for Monarch as she averages 15.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, while junior G Abigail Russo, senior G Nicole Reading and sophomore G Chelin Isaacson all average better than a handful of points in support.
WINNER GETS: The Cherokee Trail-Monarch winner advances to a Feb. 21 5A second round contest at No. 2 Regis Jesuit (20-3)