2A BOYS REGIONAL PREVIEW

Regional tournaments are on tap in 2A boys’ basketball this week and the goal for all 32-teams involved is to pick up two wins and advance to the state tournaments.  Winners from Friday collide on Saturday and those survivors earn a trip to Loveland for the state event.
 

REGION ONE – Crowley County High School

6:00pm:  #1 Crowley County (21-0) vs #32 Center (5-17)
7:30pm:  #16 Haxtun (13-7) vs #17 Fowler (14-7)
Scoring against Crowley County has been a difficult chore this year as the Chargers allow just 32 points a game and overall have outscored their opponents by 515 points in 21 games.  They’re also the lone unbeaten team left in the field.  Bradley Carnes-Clabey is the top scorer (15.7) and rebounder (10.2) and the senior is joined by five other classmates in the rotation.  Luke Walter, with 9.5 points and 6.9 rebounds, is another inside threat while Hayden Carter (17), Ti’Quan Williams (14) and Chris Meyer (10) have combined for 41 three-pointers.
An overtime win against South Park (63-62) in the district quarterfinals pushed Center into the regional round.  It was just their fifth win of the season but one of those victories came against Ellicott (61-59) who is hosting a regional tournament this week as well.  Robbie Cortez (9.0), Kaden Vance (8.5), Devin Porres (8.4) and Andres Almeida (7.9) contribute to a balanced offensive attack.
Fowler needs a win over Haxtun to get a likely fourth crack at Crowley County.  Of the Grizzlies seven losses, three have come against the top ranked Chargers including a one-point game inside the Santa Fe conference.  Crowley County easily won the district final 61-37.
The Grizzlies are balanced on the offensive end with seven players scoring between five and nine points per game.  Quinton Flanscha (8.5) leads the list but is followed closely by Jacob Juul (7.4). Val Leone (7.3), Drew Egan (7.0), Johnathon Mobbley (6.1), Brand Sharp (5.3) and Zane Denton (5.1).  They had won six straight before dropping three of four down the stretch including two to Crowley County.
Haxtun made it to regionals despite sitting as the sixth seed in the rugged District 2 bracket.  A quality win over defending state champion Holyoke (49-38) in the quarterfinals earned them a regional berth and they must missed playing for the district title in a 54-50 loss to Sedgwick County where they led through three quarters.  The Bulldogs are led by seniors Jaxon Brown and Ryan Schafer along with juniors Joey Gerk, Braden Anderson, Marshall Davis and Drew Coffin.
 

REGION EIGHT – Sanford High School

5:00pm:  #8 Sanford (17-5) vs #25 Mancos (15-6)
7:00pm:  #9 Sedgwick County (19-3) vs #24 Rocky Ford (14-8)
Sanford and Sedgwick County are favored to meet in the regional finals on Saturday and if that happens, it will be a very good matchup of programs who are very familiar with basketball success.  The Indians not long ago won three consecutive championships while Sedgwick County reached the state championship game last year and many players have plenty of big game experience on the gridiron where the Cougars have landed three straight eight-man crowns.
First up is the first round and both teams could get pushed.  Mancos has won eight of 10 with both losses coming to league and district champion Ignacio.  The Bluejays fell short in the district final against the Bobcats marking their third loss of the season to the perennial league power.
Sophomore Caden Showalter averages a double-double with 16.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.  He’s put together a double-double in 16 games this year.  Season highs include 26 points against Shiprock Northwest NM and 19 rebounds against Norwood.  Caleb Yoder (13.4) is a good second option offensively.
Rocky Ford is coming off back-to-back frustrating losses in the district tournament as they came up short to Fowler (54-37) in the semifinals and to Swallows Charter (60-59) in the third-place game.  They had beaten both teams in the regular season.  Christopher Gonzales (14.5) and Josh Stover (12.9) are the top two scorers and combine for 27 points per game.
All three losses by Sedgwick County are against quality opponents; dropping two games to Yuma and another 1A power Peetz.  The Cougars are battle tested with nine wins coming by 10 points or less.  Team leaders include Cade McKinley, Tyce Marquez, Brennan Ehmke plus they received a strong defensive effort from Gavin Thode in the district final against Yuma.
Sanford lost to Del Norte in conference play and finished second to the Tigers in the Southern Peaks.  But since that loss, the Indians have beaten their local rivals twice including a strong 52-42 decision in the district championship game.  It was their ninth straight win overall.
 

REGION FIVE – Meeker High School

7:00pm:  #5 Meeker (18-4) vs #28 Telluride (12-10)
5:30pm: #12 Simla (17-5) vs #21 Rangely (15-7)
A case can be made for at least three of the four teams to come away with the title in this very deep regional bracket.  Meeker is the Western Slope district champion but finished second to Rangely in the regular season league chase.  Simla ended up second to Calhan in a very good Black Forest league that could send three teams to the state tournament.
The Cubs missed a chance at hosting their own regional with a 51-45 loss to Evangelical Christian in the district semifinals.  They rebounded to knock off Calhan in overtime (62-54) for third place and to gain momentum for a push this weekend.  The win over Calhan avenged two regular season losses to the Bulldogs and gave Simla their 11th win over 13 games.
It’s a very young roster for Simla as there is not a senior among their top 10 scorers.  Jason George (13.7) and Cole Mitchell (10.5) are two double-figure scorers but Gunner Rapp (8.6), Darias Harms (8.2) and Brad Mazzerall (6.1) provide plenty of depth on the offensive end.
Patrick Scoggins leads Rangely in four major categories including scoring (17.0), rebounding (6.6), assists (4.0) and steals (3.0).  He’s scored at least 17 points in each of the five games including a combined 39 points in district losses to Hotchkiss and Vail Christian.  It was just the second two-game losing streak of the season for the Panthers who have not lost three-in-a-row this year.
Meeker’s run to the District 5 championship stretched their winning streak to eight overall and 12 against Colorado opponents.  The Cowboys last in-state loss came against Rangely (57-41) and the two will meet up again on Saturday if both post wins the night before.
The Cowboys are a veteran bunch as the top five scorers are all seniors.  Zach Dinwiddie (12.1), Logan Hughes (11.9) and Eli Newman (10.9) all average double figures and Doak Mantle (9.7) is almost there.  Hughes (8.2), Newman (7.4) and Dinwiddie (6.8) also combine for 22 rebounds per game.
Telluride tied with Mancos for second behind Ignacio in the San Juan chase.  They lost to the Bluejays 68-58 in the district semifinals and had to beat Ridgway (55-32) the next night just to qualify for regionals.  The Miners, who have won five of six, get most of their offense from Reed Schacht (16.5) and Ian Enkema (13.6).  Connor Sheehan, Charlie Miller and Tommy Wells all provide about nine points per game.
 

REGION FOUR – Byers High School

5:30pm:  #4 Byers (17-4) vs #29 Union Colony Prep (13-8)
7:00pm:  #13 Vail Christian (17-5) vs #20 Clear Creek (15-7)
This is another strong district with at least three teams in the chase for the one available state tournament berth.  As the fourth seed and playing at home, Byers is the favorite but the winner between Vail Christian and Clear Creek have the talent to upset the Bulldogs.   Union Colony has two proven scorers in Keith Hayden (15.3) and Kacen Shaffer (14.3) and cannot be overlooked either.
Byers beat Front Range Christian and Limon by double figures to win the District 4 championship.  The Bulldogs like to push tempo and average nearly 66 points per game.  Austin Davis is the top offensive threat (17.9) and has scored at least 20 points seven times.  His season best is 30 against Deer Trail near the end of the regular season.
Brady Shelley (12.6) and Hayden McCuen (11.1) also average double figures.  Shelley has reached double figures in 12 games this year while McCuen and his 6-9 frame, provides scoring off the bench.  He also has 27 blocked shots on the season.
Vail Christian has played a strong schedule this season including two wins over conference champion Rangely.  The Saints were the only team to beat the league champions in conference play and picked up a second win over the Panthers in the District 5 third place game last Saturday.  Bryan Trujillo (15.9) and Sebastian Moritz (13.7) top the Saints in scoring.
Two others, Zack McKeever (9.5) and Alec Moritz (8.0) can also provide punch offensively but those two and the entire Saints roster may need to focus quite a bit of their effort on the defensive end against Clear Creek.  The Golddiggers average 66 points per game and have scored at least 70 in nine different games.  Noah Siarra (25.9) is among the highest scorers in the state but he gets plenty of help from the likes of Lucas Gerding (16.3) and Ben Griffin (12.3).
Much of that scoring comes from the perimeter as Gerding has knocked in a team-best 56 three-pointers with Siarra a close second with 53.  Ty Judge has hit ten three-pointers and Griffin 8.  The team overall has 128 on the season.
 

REGION TWO – Yuma High School

7:00pm:  #2 Yuma (20-2) vs #31 Swallows Charter (10-12)
4:00pm:  #15 Evangelical Christian (16-6) vs #18 Dawson (12-10)
Swallows Charter Academy from Pueblo is making their first ever visit to the regional tournament and they have a very difficult assignment in their opener against 2nd seeded Yuma.   The Indians carry a 16-game winning streak into regionals and feature a very long and athletic roster.
6-7 junior Jakob Chrisman leads the roster as the Indians look to pound the ball inside to him on most possessions.  Diego Covarrubias is a 6-4 senior that can play anywhere from the point guard to power forward on offense and guard many positions on the defensive end as well.  Victor Mendoza, a 6-3 junior, is a third very versatile player.
Swallows Charter has won four of their last five including an exciting 50-49 overtime decision over Rocky Ford to land third place in District 6.  The win avenged two conference losses to the Meloneers during the regular season.  The Spartans get 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game from senior Justin Roberts.  He will need to stay out of foul trouble against the talented front line of the Indians.
Evangelical Christian had won seven straight before a district championship loss to Ellicott (54-41) last Saturday.  They had beaten the Thunderhawks 48-41 in conference play earlier in the year.  They do not have any common opponents with Dawson but have four more wins overall.
Dawson strung together six straight wins from January 26th through February 7th but has lost four of their six since.  They did get by Twin Peaks Charter 68-45 in the first round of district play to reach regionals and carry momentum from a very good 67-54 win over Union Colony Prep in the third-place game.  Gavyn Pure poured in a season high 38 points in the win and easily leads the Mustangs with nearly 22 points per game.  Pure spent much of the game at the foul line; hitting 19 of 26 free throws overall so Evangelical Christian will look to guard him without committing the same number of fouls.
 

REGION SEVEN – Ellicott High School

6:00pm:  #7 Ellicott (13-9) vs #26 Sargent (12-10)
7:30pm:  #10 Calhan (16-6) vs #23 Akron (9-13)
In our opinion, this is the most wide-open bracket of the weekend.  All four teams have played very good basketball at times this year but have been inconsistent for much of the season.  The club that string together back-to-back solid efforts this Friday and Saturday will advance to the state tournament.
There is familiarity between three of the four clubs. Ellicott and Calhan split two matchups and Ellicott picked up a 57-55 road decision at Sargent back on December 16th.  Akron has not faced any of the other three clubs this season.
Ellicott has won four straight and seven of their last nine.  Inside the stretch was a 73-44 loss to Calhan and a conference loss to Simla 67-58.  They avenged the loss to Calhan 68-61 in a tremendous district semifinal and then the Thunderhawks took out Evangelical Christian for the district championship.
Calhan had a five-game winning streak snapped with the loss to Ellicott and the enter regionals with a two-game losing skid thanks to a loss against Simla in the third-place game at districts.  Charles Sparks is a bit undersized inside but is still very effective as he leads the Bulldogs in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (11.9).  Ben Kelly (13.3) also averages double figures.  He also paces the club in three-pointers with 28 and Bradley Glick has hit 21.  Overall the Bulldogs have 89 treys for the season.
Akron is below five hundred for the season but seven of their losses are by 10 points or less.  Recent decisions have included a three-point loss to Haxtun, two-point losses to Holyoke and Sedgwick County and another six-point loss to Haxtun (52-46) in the District 2 third-place game.  They did capture a narrow 60-58 win over Merino in the district quarterfinals and that win earned them a berth in regionals.  The Rams are coached by Shawn Randel and he has a championship pedigree with previous state titles at Eads and McClave.
Sargent opened the season 4-1 and has the same record over their last five games.  In-between was a bit of struggle as the Farmers managed just four wins from January 11th to February 9th.  The schedule has been difficult and they’ve played well in three losses apiece to Sanford and Del Norte.  Other setbacks have come against quality programs such as Sangre De Cristo (1A), Ignacio and Ellicott.  The Farmers also have a quality win against 1A Sierra Grande.
 

REGION SIX – Ignacio High School

4:45pm:  #6 Ignacio (17-4) vs #27 Denver Christian (10-12)
8:15pm:  #11 Limon (16-5) vs #22 Hotchkiss (14-8)
Another good bracket here as Ignacio and Limon are favored to match up on Saturday but Hotchkiss has already proven in the post-season that they can spring the upset and advance.  Denver Christian also has some momentum thanks to a very good win over Front Range Christian last Saturday in the District 4 third-place game.
Host Ignacio has won their last five.  Two weeks ago, the Bobcats were looking at a possible 8th seed overall but they kept winning down the stretch and received help when Ellicott and Sanford won district titles last week.  Those results kept pushing Ignacio up the seeding charts but they still face a very strong regional bracket.
The Bobcats have battled injuries much of the season and only on a few occasions have had their full roster in uniform.  They appear healthy now.  The roster is loaded with offensive talent including four double digit scores in Johnny Valdez (15.7), Kai Roubideaux (14.8), Lawrence Ruffin-Valdez (12.8) and Cruz Pardo (10.8).  There’s not a lot of size there but there is plenty of quickness.
Denver Christian’s record could be considered misleading as seven losses are by single digits.  They’ve outscored opponents by just 93 points on the season.  E.U. Asefaw (17.6) and Jeff Amidon (15.0) pace an offense that’s been streaky at times this year.
Limon is a young club that continues to get better and one that is battle tested.  The Badgers have three one-point losses and their biggest margin of defeat is nine points against both Crowley County and Byers.  The Chargers and Bulldogs are seeded #1 and #4 respectively in the regional field.
Two freshmen are in the starting lineup for Limon.  Camden Smithburg (12.5) and Kory Tacha (12.2) are second and third on the team in scoring and both can shoot the three-pointer.  Tacha is also effective on slashing to the basket.
Despite their talents, the first option on offense is Cannan Bennett.  He leads the team in scoring with nearly 14 points per game and is a tough matchup for most defenses.  He has good range beyond the three-point line and also is very patient and can score going to the rim.  Bennett also tops the Badgers in rebounds (6.3).
As mentioned, Hotchkiss should be considered a dangerous team.  The Bulldogs finished fifth in the Western Slope during the regular season but bumped up all the way to second in districts thanks to a semifinal win over Rangely (59-46).  They also pushed Meeker before dropping a 60-55 decision to the Cowboys in the championship game.  Every one of their eight losses are against teams still alive in the 1A, 2A or 3A playoffs.
Six players average at least seven points per game for Hotchkiss.  Two of them, Johnathon Gonzales (11.7) and Sam Rodriguez (10.9), are in double figures on most nights.
 

REGION THREE – Highland High School

7:00pm:  #3 Highland (18-3) vs #30 Front Range Christian (8-14)
5:00pm:  #14 Del Norte (18-4) vs #19 Paonia (14-8)
Three of the four teams in the field made the state tournament last season but of course only one will return this season.  Paonia played both Del Norte and Highland at the state tournament last season.  Del Norte ended up sixth a year ago following a loss to Paonia in the opening round.  The Eagles then lost to Highland in the third-place game two days later.  Experience from those games could play a role this year but only a handful of key players are back for each team.
The top returning player is Del Norte standout Carlos Parra.  The senior is averaging 29.5 points per game on the season and has reached the 40-point level in three games.  He scored 12 points against Paonia in the quarterfinals a year ago but will need a bigger total in the Friday rematch.  Izeah Peterson (12.4) is a second option offensively for Del Norte.
Paonia has been playing elimination basketball for a week already.  The Eagles lost to Hotchkiss in the district quarterfinals but stayed alive for a regional berth by beating Vail Mountain and Plateau Valley.  They ended up fifth in the District 5 bracket and were one of the last teams to qualify but a strong RPI pushed them up to 19th in the 32-team bracket.
After beating Del Norte in the state quarterfinals last year, the Eagles lost to eventual state champion Holyoke in overtime in the semifinals and then fell short to Highland for third-place.  Only three players who scored in the state tournament last year are back for the Eagles this year.  Enoch Kropp totaled 12 points in the first two games while Slater Podgorny (4) and Sean Devlin (2) combined for six against Highland.
Highland returns the trio of Trey Allmon, Koby Anderson and Tate Bessire.  Allmon had 15 against Paonia last year while Anderson provided eight points and four rebounds and Bessire six and three.  All have improved on those stats this year with Bessire (17.7), Anderson (14.1) and Allmon (12.3) all scoring in double figures.  Anderson also pulls down a team-best 8.4 rebounds a game.
Front Range Christian lost to Highland 75-47 on.  The Huskies outscored the Falcons 19-7 in the first quarter and 22-13 in the third quarter so the focus is to be better at the start of each half.  Front Range is in the regional bracket thanks to a district quarterfinal win over Burlington by two points.  They’ve lost five of their last seven.  Drew Lloyd (15.2) and Peyton Motschenbacher (11.2) lead the offensive attack.
 
 
 
 

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