Coach: Chris Dolan, 1st season
2011-12 record: 21-3 overall (Lost in Sweet 16 round of Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Brittani Craig, 5-foot-11, F, sr.; Shaikyra Tyler, 5-7, F, sr.; Zhana Brown, 5-11, C, jr.; Tiana Cunningham, 5-7, G, jr.
Outlook: Chris Dolan is the third coach for the Raiders in three seasons — following Robert Dennis and Josh Brenning — and comes over after serving as an assistant with the boys program at Montbello last year. Dolan, who also spent a handful of seasons between 2003-07 as an assistant with the Highlands Ranch girls program, inherits a Rangeview team that won the first league girls basketball title in school history last season and lost in 5A’s Sweet 16 round on its home floor to Fossil Ridge. A strong senior core graduated — including All-East Metro Athletic Conference first teamer Sydney Jones and honorable mention all-conference performers Ace Cardona and Katie Pham — but the Raiders have back their leading scorer in senior forward Brittani Craig, who poured in 14.5 points per game last season in her first year with the program. Craig’s support this season comes from a very large junior class that is largely inexperienced at the varsity level.
Coach: Carl Mattei, 10th season
2011-12 record: 22-5 overall (Lost in semifinals of Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Justine Hall, 5-foot-11, G/F, jr.; Diani Akigbogun, 6-1, F/C, jr.; Kelsi Lidge, 5-10, G, jr.; Jordyn Molyneaux, 6-4, C, jr.; Anna Ptasinski, 5-9, G, jr.; Jess Lewis, 5-8, G, sr.
Outlook: Four players have departed from coach Carl Mattei’s final four team of a year ago — including Division I talents in Marquelle Dent (Wyoming) and Katie Heckman (Duke) — but enough experienced pieces remain for the Raiders to be a factor again at season’s end as they have in nearly a decade with Mattei on the bench. Versatile wing player Justine Hall — who made the first team All-Continental League as just a sophomore — and post player Diani Akigbogun both averaged double figures last season and head a large core of juniors on a team ranked No. 4 in 5A in the preseason. Akigbogun made the All-City first team a year ago after finishing second on the team with an average of 11.4 points per game in addition to 6.1 rebounds per contest, while Hall turned in an average of 11.0 points per game with 13 double-figure efforts — including a season-high 27 in a rout of rival Mullen — and also averaged two steals per game. Kelsi Lidge is another junior who contributes on both ends of the floor and will be a key on the defensive end, where Mattei expects to employ more zone defense than he has in the past because of depth concerns. Post Jordyn Molyneaux and guard Anna Ptasinski also will have expanded roles for Regis Jesuit, while senior guard Jess Lewis will have to handle the ball more due to the graduation and departure of a slew of point guards.
Coach: DeWayne Brandon, 3rd season
2011-12 record: 7-17 overall (Lost in 1st round of Class 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Sarah Milafsky, 5-foot-8, G, jr.; Brooke Zimmerman, 5-11, F, jr.; Brittanee Bivens, 5-9, G, fr.
Outlook: No information provided. Coach DeWayne Brandon’s Buffaloes could have cracked double digits in wins last season, but lost a handful of close games, including three games by six or fewer points. Smoky Hill still made the 5A playoffs for the fourth straight season, however, but lost to Chaparral in the first round. While Brandon graduated one of his two second team All-Centennial League performers from last season — Katie Chelf — he has the other back in junior guard Sarah Milafsky, who averaged a team-high 10 points per game last season. Milafsky knocked down five 3-pointers in a game against Mullen last season and provides a threat from the perimeter, plus she provides experience for a team that will have a significant number of sophomores and freshmen. Another experienced returning player is junior wing Brooke Zimmerman, who pulled down 7.0 rebounds per game last season and had 10 or more four times. Brandon will turn his point guard duties over to a freshman this season, but Brittanee Bivens could have a significant impact in his estimation. The Buffs have increased their athleticism and hope to make a significant move up from their seventh-place finish in the eight-team Centennial League last season.
Coach: Matt Borushko, 1st season
2011-12 record: Junior varsity (this season in Class 4A)
Outlook: No information provided. Bison will take on the Colorado 7 league in their first varsity season.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555