AURORA | Preview capsules for the matchups involving Aurora teams in the first round of the Class 5A girls state basketball playoffs on Feb. 23, 2016. Full 5A state pairings and schedules, here:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
Kaye Garmes Region: NO. 12 EAGLECREST (7-16) at NO. 5 FAIRVIEW (14-9), 6 p.m.
Breakdown: Eaglecrest seeks to snap a lengthy drought playoff drought for the program, as the Raptors are in search of their first postseason victory since Feb. 28, 2008, when they topped Douglas County in an opening round game before losing to Monarch in the second round. Since then, Eaglecrest has lost three first round games and also missed the postseason for four straight seasons between 2009-2013…Coach Tim Brennan’s Raptors come into the the playoffs on a five-game losing streak and look for their first win since a 10-point win against Overland on Feb. 3. The Raptors finished sixth in the eight-team Centennial League standings…Freshman Raquel Turner paces Eaglecrest in scoring at 7.1 points per game, just ahead of junior Jessica Stoner (6.8 ppg) and sophomore Kailey Wilson (6.4 ppg). Wilson leads the Raptors with averages of 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while junior Samoane Emecheta paces the team with 2.2 steals per contest…Fairview has very recent winning experience in the 5A postseason, as the Knights got past Brighton, Denver East and Fruita Monument in last season’s playoffs before a Great 8 loss to Monarch…Coach Rod Beauchamp’s Fairview team — the fifth place finisher in the highly-competitive Front Range League — is 3-3 in its last six contests and won its regular season finale over Rocky Mountain on Feb. 18…Sophomore Ashley Panem is the only Knight to average in double figures at 12.6 points per game (plus a team-best 2.7 steals per contest), while junior Grace O’Neil (9.2 ppg plus team-leading 6.9 rebounds per game) and sophomore Denali Pinto (8.1 ppg) just behind…Winner: The Eaglecrest-Fairview winner moves on to play at fourth-seeded Brighton (16-7) at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in the second round. Neither team played the Bulldogs this season.
Alice Barron Region: NO. 12 WESTMINSTER (9-14) AT NO. 5 REGIS JESUIT (15-8), 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Coach Carl Mattei’s Regis Jesuit program has a rich history of postseason experience and is only one season removed from winning the Class 5A state championship. With massive graduation from the last title-winning team, the Raiders made an early exit for them in the postseason with a one-point second-round loss at Grand Junction last season…Regis Jesuit comes into the postseason with four wins in its last five games, with the only loss coming to undefeated and No. 1-seeded Grandview (60-33) on Feb. 13. The Raiders, ranked No. 10 in the last Associated Press Class 5A media poll of the regular season, finished third in the Continental League behind top-ranked Highlands Ranch and No. 4 ThunderRidge…Injuries before and during the season have forced a lot of different lineups and pressed a lot of youth into service for Mattei, who just got back senior leading scorer TaeKenya Cleveland (10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds per game) back in the lineup just before the playoffs after she missed a few weeks following a major car accident. Sophomore Noelle Cahill (7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds per game) and freshman Francesca Belibi (6.4 points, 5.9 rebounds per game) combined with Cleveland to give the Raiders good size and athleticism in the frontcourt. Three other players — senior Ezekia Johnson and sophomores Jasmine Gaines and Emma Wrede — average 5.0 points or more per game and all have double-digit potential. Senior Julia Drexelius leads Regis Jesuit in assists (3.0 apg) and steals (2.3 spg) per game…Westminster has lost in the opening round of the 5A playoffs for four straight seasons and is seeking its first playoff win in at least a decade…Coach Jeff Dennis’ Wolves have split their last six games, but won their season finale (59-50 over Adams City on Feb. 19) to finish fifth in the EMAC standings…Junior Mariah Boltz is Westminster’s top offensive threat with an average of 14.8 points per game (plus a team-high 3.0 steals per contest), while sophomore Maliah Paculan is good for 8.5 points per game. Senior Cinthya Covarrubias leads the team with averages of 7.4 points and 1.9 blocked shots per game…Winner: The Regis Jesuit-Westminster winner advances to play at second round contest at No. 4 Rampart (18-5) at 6 p.m. Feb. 26. Neither team played Rampart this season.
Rhonda Blanford-Green Region: NO. 12 OVERLAND (9-14) at NO. 5 CHAPARRAL (17-6), 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Coach Wayne McDonald’s Overland program returns to the 5A playoffs after missing out last season and has dropped its last four first-round contests, including a 12-point loss to Chaparral in the 2010-11 season. The Trailblazers’ last postseason win came in 2008, when they won three postseason games before a loss to Chaparral in the Great 8…Overland comes into the postseason on a five-game losing streak stretching back to a win over Smoky Hill on Feb. 5. Overland ended up seventh in the eight-team Centennial League…The Trailblazers lost a double-digit scorer to injury when sophomore Lyric Thompson went down for the season after she averaged 10.6 points per game in their first 14 games, but sophomore Maia Jackson (10.8 ppg) and freshman Kailey Brown (10.0 ppg, plus team-highs with 3.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game) each regularly score in double figures. Senior Deanna Hughes pulls down 7.4 rebounds per game to lead the team…Coach Tony Speights’ Chaparral team has had plenty of recent postseason success and made it to the second round of last season’s 5A state tournament before losing to Cherry Creek…The Wolverines lost back-to-back games to ranked Regis Jesuit and ThunderRidge, but topped Legend in its season finale Feb. 19 to secure the fourth spot in the Continental League standings…Senior Margaux Bess paces Chaparral in scoring (9.3 points), rebounding (7.1 rebounds) and steals (1.7 steals) per game, while senior Rachel Nelson contributes 9.0 points per game and three other Wolverines average five or more points per contest…Winner: The Overland-Chaparral winner moves on to a second round playoff contest at No. 4 Fruita Monument (19-4) on Feb. 26. Neither team played Fruita Monument this season.
Sharon Wilch Region: NO. 10 RANGEVIEW (13-9) AT NO. 7 CASTLE VIEW (10-13), 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Coach Lamonte Weddle’s Rangeview team lost in the first round of last season’s 5A playoffs, but posted a postseason victory to open the 2013-14 playoffs before a second round loss to Fossil Ridge. The Raiders also won their playoff opener in the 2011-12 season…The Raiders enter the playoffs coming off a 49-44 loss to rival Gateway in their season finale, but had won the four games before that following a loss to EMAC champion Brighton on Feb. 4. Rangeview finished third behind the Bulldogs and Olys in the final league standings…Rangeview features a pair of double-digit scorers in junior Jaelin Jones (13.7 ppg) and freshman Dezmonea Antwine (12.8 ppg), plus another player just off that pace in junior Makaylee Jones (9.7 ppg). Antwine paces the team in assists (2.7 apg) and steals (2.4 spg) per game, while Jones leads in rebounds at 6.1 per contest, ahead of Dixie State signee Tomarow Whitfield (4.2 rpg)…Coach Matt Hema’s Castle View team advance to the Sweet 16 of last season’s 5A state tournament before a loss to Highlands Ranch. The SaberCats come into this season’s playoffs with four wins in their last five contests — with the lone loss coming to top-ranked Highlands Ranch (60-31 on Feb. 16) — and topped Douglas County in their season finale…Castle View’s offense is quite spread out as seven players average 4.0 or more points per game, with senior Shaina Smidt leading the way at 9.3 points per contest (as well as a team-high 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game). Junior Jessie Brown leads the SaberCats with an average of 5.0 rebounds per game…Winner: The Rangeview/Castle View winner advances to play at No. 2 Horizon (18-5) in a 5A second round contest on Feb. 26. Neither team played Horizon this season.
Sharon Wilch Region: NO. 11 GATEWAY (10-13) at NO. 6 CHEROKEE TRAIL (14-9), 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Gateway is seeking to make it past the Class 5A state playoff opening round for the first time since the 2008-09 season when it beat Sand Creek before losing to Monarch in the second round. The next season, the Olys lost in the first round at Cherokee Trail in the 2009-10 season and hasn’t won a postseason contest since…Coach Tammi Traylor-Statewright’s Olympians sat 1-12 on Jan. 21, but nine wins in their last 10 games — the only loss a three-point defeat to EMAC champion Brighton — pushed them into double figures in the win column and their win over Rangeview in the season finale put them second in the final league standings…Senior Carmen Ramey sets the tone for Gateway as she averages team bests in points (13.1), assists (2.3), steals (4.1) and blocked shots (1.9) per game, in addition to 5.7 rebounds, which ranks second behind regulars behind sophomore Taylor Bender (6.5 rebounds per contest). Senior Ashley Ramey (8.6 points) and Bender (7.8 points) offer offensive support, especially after junior Makayla Jones, who averaged 8.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, was lost to injury after just eight games…Coach Jerry Austin’s Cougars come into the playoffs with a 3-3 record in their last six games, including a two-point loss to Arapahoe in their season finale. The result put Cherokee Trail in a three-way tie for third place in the Centennial League with Arapahoe and Mullen, teams it split with during the season…Offensively, Cherokee Trail is headed by its three seniors in Jalessa Avery (16.9 points), Kenzie McLelland (10.1 ppg) and Anastacia Johnson (9.6 ppg), with junior Taryn Foxen coming in next at 8.5 points per contest. McLelland and Avery pace the team in rebounding at 5.5 and 4.9 boards per game, respectively, while Johnson heads the Cougars in steals per game (2.2) and is tied with Avery for the assist lead at 1.6 per contest…Winner: The Gateway/Cherokee Trail winner advances to a 5A second round contest at third-seeded Pine Creek (19-4) at 6 p.m. Feb. 26. Neither team played Pine Creek this season.