AURORA | A look back at some of the key games, tournaments and happenings in Aurora prep sports between Jan. 19-25, 2017:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
The Eaglecrest boys basketball team is finding its groove at the right time, as the Raptors have posted three straight wins over quality foes in a five-day span.
On Jan. 18, Eaglecrest handled previous Centennial League unbeaten Cherry Creek 69-32, then followed that two days later with an epic 64-63 road victory at Smoky Hill. Senior Colbey Ross drained a step-back 3-pointer with less than a second left in regulation for his first game-winning shot in high school basketball. (Video recap, including footage of game winner, here)
Ross went for 17 points and Ikenna Ozor had 11 as Eaglecrest capped the strong stretch with a 55-49 win at Denver East Jan. 23. Coach John Olander’s Raptors share first place with rival Grandview going into the last games of the first round of league play Jan. 25.
• Senior Nick Holmes played spot minutes for the Overland boys basketball team in a 68-58 road win at Arapahoe Jan. 25. Though he didn’t contribute statistically, Holmes’ presence on the floor provided a boost to the psyche of the Trailblazers, who improved to 7-9 overall and 3-4 in the Centennial League. Just two days earlier, Holmes’ family received a phone call that cleared him to play medically after he was diagnosed with a treatable form of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) shortly before the season. He sat out the team’s first 15 games in order to avoid injury because of it. A second biopsy revealed that Holmes instead had a non-cancerous condition in which bone grows in muscle tissue. Cleared medically, Holmes shook off some rust on Jan. 24 with his first full practice with the team since last November and was able to get on the floor against Arapahoe. (Video interview with Holmes as he talks about his return to the court, here)
• The Hinkley boys basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half for a thrilling 63-61 EMAC victory at Gateway Jan. 24. Senior Qwame Williams put the Thunderbirds ahead with a baseline layup with 30 seconds left and senior Jayquawn Thompson — whose first dunk of the season earlier in the period helped spark Hinkley — made two free throws with under 10 seconds left to essentially seal the win. Kevin Traylor Jr. made a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left to cap a 23-point night for Gateway, but the Olys couldn’t hold a lead that was 13 points at one time.
• Grandview senior Brie Oakley was announced as recipient of Gatorade’s Colorado Cross Country Runner of the Year award on the girls side Jan. 23. Undefeated in Colorado and also a national champion, Oakley became the first Aurora cross country runner to receive Gatorade’s state award and the 29th city athletes across 10 sports to win one. She is eligible for the national runner of the year award.
• Six Grandview wrestlers worked their way through very a very difficult field of 31 teams from four different states — tougher than the state tournament itself — to earn top-five finishes at the Top of the Rockies tournament Jan. 21 at Centaurus High School. The Wolves finished sixth as a team as the only Aurora team in the competition. Sophomore 120-pounder Fabian Santillan got through the semifinals by beating 4A No. 1 Anthony Lucero of Pueblo East, but had to bow out of the final — where he would have faced Pomona’s Colton Yapoujian for the third time this season — due to injury. Robert Woods (195 pounds) and heavyweight Gabriel Baumgartner placed fourth, while Giovani Federico (113), Armando Santillan (132) and Tyler Ross (182) all finished fifth for coach Ryan Budd’s Wolves.
• The Cherokee Trail wrestling team finished 18th out of 78 teams at the loaded Rockwell Rumble in Orem, Utah, Jan. 21. Senior Max Gonzales suffered his only loss of the season at 220 pounds so far, but it came in the championship match, where he nearly had a pin of his own, but instead fell to 33-1 Brandon Closson of Utah powerhouse Pleasant Grove. Freshman Andrew Chilton finished sixth at 98 pounds (a weight class not contested in Colorado) and senior Josh Richardson placed eighth at 160 pounds for the Cougars.
• Seven Aurora wrestlers earned top-six places at the Northglenn Norse Invitational Jan. 21, led by 160-pound champion Brandon Minear of Regis Jesuit. Brian Butler (4th at 132), Hayes Ward (4th at 170) and Brian Hodes (6th at 152) got on the podium for the Raiders, who finished 11th in the 20-team field. Jonathan Perdomo’s fourth-place finish at 145 pounds paced Hinkley to 15th, while Blake Thomas (5th at 138) and Jarrett Reigies (6th at 170) boosted Gateway to 19th.
• The Grandview girls and boys basketball teams pulled off a doubleheader sweep at Cherry Creek Jan. 21 in Centennial League play. Senior Michaela Onyenwere scored 30 points to pace the Wolves to a 70-55 win over the Bruins in a game of girls teams that had each opened league play 5-0, while Dayne and Gaige Prim combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds as the Grandview boys topped Cherry Creek 57-46 to join Eaglecrest atop the league.
• Senior 145-pounder Deron Solomon of Rangeview won the only individual championship from the four Aurora teams competing in the Smoky Hill Buff Invitational Jan. 21. Solomon, Josh Nuttall (2nd, 106), Bryan Fierro (4th, 113) and Caleb Calkins (4th, 170) helped the Raiders finish sixth as a team. Dilan Esparza (113 pounds) and Tristan Curtis (126) each earned runner-up finishes for ninth-place Vista PEAK, while Diego Velasquez (4th at 195 pounds) represented the host and 12th-place Buffaloes on the stand.
• Senior guard Jaizec Lottie returned early from injury and scored 23 points to pace the Cherokee Trail boys basketball team to a 66-49 Centennial League win over Arapahoe Jan. 20. The Cougars went 1-3 without Lottie, who injured his ankle at Cherry Creek Jan. 4, but looked strong in his return. Junior Deon Barfield added 10 points in Cherokee Trail’s win.
• Goals from senior Michael Baer and junior Shane Ott in the third period pushed the Regis Jesuit ice hockey team past Ralston Valley 2-1 Jan. 20 at APEX. Dylan Kelly and Connor Kilkenny assisted on Ott’s go-ahead goal and goaltender Dillon Whalen made 19 saves.
• A variety of Aurora girls swim programs honored seniors Jan. 19 at their last home dual meets. Cherokee Trail recognized its decent-sized group of seniors during a 141-45 dual meet win against Eaglecrest, while Grandview’s seniors participated in a 129-52 victory over Mullen and Hinkley’s handful of seniors contributed to a 123-59 win against Gateway.