3A BOYS REGIONAL PREVIEW

District tournaments are now complete so teams in the 3A boys’ basketball state tournament have no more room for error.  Teams could suffer losses at certain times last week and still advance to the state tournament but from here on out, it’s a single elimination tournament.  32 teams go into the weekend still in the chase for a state title and eight will survive into next week.  We preview all eight brackets.
 

REGION ONE – Sterling High School

6:00pm:  #1 Sterling (22-0) vs #32 Ridgeview Academy (14-8)
8:00pm:  #16 Delta (15-7) vs #17 Arrupe Jesuit (18-4)
Sterling sits at 22-0 on the season but the defending state champions carry a 27-game overall winning streak into the regional round this year.  The Tigers won their final five games last season including a 48-47 decision over Faith Christian in the state finals.  Their last loss came against Resurrection Christian in the Patriot finals a year ago.
Their streak nearly came to an end in the same place this year as the Tigers had to rally in the second half to beat Resurrection Christian district title this year.  Trailing 28-27 at halftime, Sterling outscored the Cougars 21-6 in the third quarter on their way to a 62-53 victory.
The win was earned by using the same basic script the Tigers have put in place all season.  Balance on offense and someone new stepping up to make big plays.  Four players reached double figures against Resurrection Christian with Jace Pittman serving as the difference maker.  The backup post came off the bench and led the team with 14 points.  Isaac Harris added 13, Bodie Hume 12 and Carter Keil 11.  The Tigers also knocked in ten three-pointers.
Up first this weekend for Sterling is a date with Ridgeview Academy.  The Rams did not finish in the top 32 of RPI but still made the field based on their second place in the Confluence district tournament.  They were beaten by DSST-Green Valley Ranch in double overtime in the championship game (64-62).  Keyante Harris (19.3) is the Rams leading scorer while Jamir Williams (13.7) and Sam Roumph (10.4) also score in double figures.
Delta has won four of their last five with the lone loss coming to Roaring Fork (52-49) in the district semifinals.  The Panthers rebounded from that tough loss to produce an impressive 50-48 win over Grand Valley.  It was their second win over the Cardinals in eight days as they also scored a 63-62 conference win on February 17th.  Leading scorer Logan Freed (15.9) has reached double figures in every game this year including a season high 23 against Olathe in late January.  Jaspar Carmichael (12.6) is next on the scoring list and produced 22 points in the first win over Grand Valley.
After opening the season with 16 straight wins, Arrupe Jesuit is slumping a bit dropping four of their last six.  They may have regained some momentum with their hard fought 68-66 win over Jefferson last Saturday.  Elijah Chavez led the way with 24 points and two others reached double figures.  Chavez scored his season high of 30 in a quality December win over Platte Valley.
 

REGION EIGHT – DSST-Stapleton High School

5:30pm:  #8 DSST-Stapleton (18-4) vs #25 Montezuma Cortez (12-10)
7:00pm:  #9 Strasburg (16-6) vs #24 Pinnacle (15-8)
DSST-Stapleton is the only conference champion of the four but Strasburg has the highest RPI.  The Indians were fifth in RPI standings following district tournament play and barely missed out on hosting their own regional.  Instead the honor went to DSST-Stapleton as they jumped to 12th after winning the Confluence district crown.
Neither team can make plans to collide on Saturday as both face quality opponents in their Friday openers.   With wins in five of their last six, Pinnacle seems to be hitting their stride at the right time after battling inconsistent play much of the season.  Montezuma Cortez also had a good district tournament; going 2-1 with wins over Centauri and Monte Vista sandwiched around a semifinal loss to #2 Alamosa.
Pinnacle lost to Jefferson in the Frontier quarterfinals but responded with wins over Bennett and Sheridan to make the 32-team state tournament bracket.  They also scored a major win over DSST-Stapleton inside conference play.  Luis Barron (18.1) and Keven Terrazas (14.7) combine for nearly 33 points a game for the Timberwolves.  Montezuma Cortez features three players averaging double figures including Teagan Whiteskunk (17.2), Jasen Engel (14.8) and Cordell Baer (10.7).
DSST-Stapleton came up short in overtime against Faith Christian on February 3rd but hasn’t lost since with all six wins coming by at least 15 points.  Vince Jones (18.7) and Andray Thomas JR (13.1) are the top two scorers.
Strasburg comes into the post-season on the strength of a 53-45 win over Platte Valley to close out the Patriot district tournament.  That reversed a ten-point loss to the Broncos from earlier in the season.  Brock Lane is the best inside threat and averages 17.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.  Jacob Miller is next in scoring with 16 per game including 33 crucial points in a district quarterfinal overtime victory against Valley.
 

REGION FIVE – Vanguard High School hosts — games at James Irwin HS

5:00pm:  #5 Vanguard (20-2) vs #28 DSST-Green Valley (17-5)
7:00pm:  #12 Lutheran (16-6) vs #21 La Junta (17-6)
The games in this bracket have been moved to James Irwin high school as the facility can handle a larger crowd compared to the regional host Vanguard.  The Coursers went 7-1 at home during the regular season but also a perfect 4-0 on neutral courts.  They could see a strong challenge from Lutheran as the Lions have several quality wins and pushed Sterling on the road in their regular season finale.
Guard play is the strength of Vanguard as Seth Fuqua (24.2) and Dominique Clifford (14.2) combine for nearly 40 points per game.  Fuqua has scored at least 20 points in 17 of 22 games this year and Clifford has scored 93 points over his last four outings.
Lutheran won the regular season Metro crown but could not claim the district title thanks to a frustrating overtime loss to Faith Christian in the semifinals.  The Lions though beat the Eagles in league activity and also topped Kent Denver and Manual there.  Tyler Eldred paces Lutheran with 14.9 points per game.  Peter Gibas (9.5), Ryan Goldhammer (9.1) and Matt Thompson (9.1) all average over nine points per game and two others score seven a night.
La Junta may struggle a bit with the size of Lutheran but that’s nothing new for the Tigers who face that obstacle against almost every opponent.  The Tigers are surging a bit with wins in six of their last eight.  Jon Nuschy (11.4) is the lone double figure scorer but four others chip in between five and nine points a game.
DSST-Green Valley heads to the weekend winners in ten straight and a district championship.  Despite the solid play, the Raptors did not earn the right to host as they finished outside the Top 16 in RPI.  10 players average at least three points a game with Stanley Owusu (19.2) easily topping the list.
 

REGION FOUR – Platte Valley High School

7:00pm:  #4 Platte Valley (18-4) vs #29 St Mary’s (10-12)
5:00pm:  #13 Roaring Fork (19-3) vs #20 Colorado Academy (13-9)
Of the four teams in the field, Roaring Fork seems to be playing the best basketball down the stretch.  The Rams have just two losses since the season opener against Steamboat Springs and both came against Coal Ridge in conference play and in the district finals last week (53-51).  Platte Valley meanwhile has lost two straight; St Mary’s has dropped four of their last five and is just 2-9 outside conference play.  Colorado Academy came up short in five of their last eight outings.
All four teams boast at least two double-digit scorers.  Platte Valley is led by one of the top big men in division as Bryson Becker averages 16.7 points and 11.5 rebounds.  He gets help from Dustin Horn (10.0) and Sebastian Zender (9.0).
Roaring Fork gets a combined 37 points a game from Justin Thompson (20.4) and Joey Salinas (13.6) while the tandem of DeAnte Dennis (18.3) and Alex Muschkin (16.0) paces Colorado Academy.
Despite their troubles away from the Tri Peaks, St Mary’s has four players scoring at least ten points per game.  That list is led by Gabe Calhoun (13.4) and Tyler Englert (12.4).  Camden Raedel and Draven Hackley each average 11 with Raedel leading the team with 21 against Salida last Saturday.
 

REGION TWO – Alamosa High School

5:30pm:  #2 Alamosa (18-3) vs #31 Cedaredge (9-12)
7:00pm:  #15 Grand Valley (17-5) vs #18 Colorado Springs Christian (15-7)
Despite a loss to Bayfield in the IML district finals last Saturday, Alamosa still earned the number two overall seed based on their overall body of work within the RPI.  They swept the Wolverines in two conference matchups but fell short in round three in district play.  The Moose are not overly deep or big but play tremendous defense and get timely scoring on the offensive end.  Noah Romero (11.4) and Ry Adams (11.1) are together one of the best backcourts in Class 3A and Angelo Ramirez, while undersized at the post, still provides 10.8 points and 9.1 rebounds each game.
Cedaredge lost four of their final six but their size could pose some problems for the Moose.  Peter Carlson is 6-7 and heads to the tournament averaging a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds per game.  Jacob Lewis also gets things done for the Burins with 12 points and six ‘boards a night.
Grand Valley opened the season 16-2 but has cooled off a bit with losses in three of their last four.  A full week off from the district tournament could recharge the legs as the Cardinals win many games by wearing down their opponents.  Garrett Magee (37) and Kade Hurst (22) lead the team in three pointers and also combine for 30 points per game.  Indra Griggs (10.5) is a third scorer in double figures.
Colorado Springs finished second to Vanguard in both the Tri Peaks conference race and district tournament.  They’re hoping to avenge a season opening 55-49 loss to Grand Valley on Friday.  Kolby Walker (14.6), Noah Hopkins (13.7) and Brandon Pitt (10.8) lead the Lions offense and combined for 31 in the loss to Grand Valley.  22 of those points though came from Walker.
 

REGION SEVEN – Bayfield High School

5:30pm:  #7 Bayfield (14-7) vs #26 Brush (14-9)
7:00pm:  #10 Resurrection Christian (16-6) vs #23 Academy (16-6)
Bayfield jumped ahead of other teams to host a regional this week thanks to a district championship win over Alamosa last Saturday.  The 57-53 decision avenged two conference losses to the league champion Moose.  The Wolverines never have one of the best overall records in 3A but always seem to be a factor in the post-season and last week’s win proves they will be a tough out through the rest of the tournament
Hayden Farmer had 14 points and Dax Snooks 13 to lead Bayfield last Saturday.  Ryan Phelps added 11.  The Wolverines also collected eight three-pointers and were a perfect 9-9 from the foul line.
Brush sits five games above five hundred but has been outscored by 22 points on the season.  They may try to push tempo against Bayfield as the Beetdiggers are coming off two solid offensive outings in the district tournament.  They were held to 36 in a quarterfinal loss to Resurrection Christian but exploded for 91 against Estes Park and tallied 67 against Valley in their next two games.  Ryan Dunker (12.9) and Armando Saucedo (11.9) are the top two scorers.
Resurrection Christian is coming off a loss to Sterling in the Patriot district finals but their strong showing should give them confidence heading to the weekend.  The Cougars are close to healthy which is something they’ve rarely experienced in any game this season.  Offensively, they feature a solid one-two punch in Reece Johnson (17.7) and Jackson Romero (16.7).  Both are only sophomores.
Academy is a very good #23 seed.  The Wildcats had won 11 in a row before the loss to DSST-Stapleton in the Frontier district tournament.  They’re 4-4 this season against tournament teams.  Isaac Gallegos (16.3) leads the Wildcats in scoring and netted 23 in a crucial conference win over Arrupe Jesuit.  Dane Olson (15.0) is second on the team and totaled a season best 26 in a December win over Peak to Peak.
 

REGION SIX – Faith Christian High School

5:00pm:  #6 Faith Christian (16-6) vs #27 Centauri (9-11)
7:00pm:  #11 Kent Denver (18-4) vs #22 Jefferson (17-5)
Don’t think too many folks are surprised that Faith Christian has turned it up a notch here in late February.  Regardless of record, the Eagles are always among the state title contenders in Class 3A.  Kent Denver is also a regular visitor to the state tournament but only of the traditional Metro league powers will play past this weekend as both were placed in the same regional bracket.
Kent Denver captured the conference matchup but Faith returned the favor in a 68-64 win over the Devils to land the district title last Saturday.  Both teams have plenty of experience in their lineup.  Seniors Benjamin Hawkins (19.3) and Jonah Gardner (14.3) have played heavy minutes each of the past three years and Alec Muehlemeyer (10.0) helped the Eagles reach the state championship game a year ago.
Juniors James Doyle (16.8) and Coby Gold (14.6) were starters for the Sun Devils Final Four team from last year.  Doyle leads the Sun Devils in rebounds with seven per game and Gold is the top outside threat with 58 three-pointers.
Centauri’s early exit from the district tournament put the Falcons squarely on the tournament bubble but they still received a call from CHSAA on Sunday saying they were in the field.  As the #27 seed, the Falcons have little pressure and should be able to play freely.  Nate Anderson (13.3), Martin Garcia (11.9) and Sam Anderson (10.0) lead an offense that prefers to play up-tempo.
Kent Denver cannot afford to look past Jefferson.  The Saints feature high scoring guard Nehemiah Baustian who averages 24 points per game.  He’s scored at least 20 in 11 of the 14 games listed on MaxPreps.  The Saints lost to both DSST-Stapleton and Arrupe Jesuit in the district tournament last week.
 

REGION THREE – Coal Ridge High School

7:00pm:  #3 Coal Ridge (20-2) vs #30 Frontier Academy (9-11)
5:30pm:  #14 Manual (14-8) vs #19 Pagosa Springs (14-6)
With each team featuring at least one player that should draw first-team all-state consideration, this is a very interesting mix of teams and talent.   Coal Ridge is the third overall seed and should be favored but Manual is the one team that 28 other coaches in the tournament are glad to not have in their bracket.
Coal Ridge has won 15 straight since suffering a loss to Resurrection Christian (69-58) right after Christmas.  It’s their only loss within the classification as their second setback came at the hands of 4A Montrose in December.  Kevin DiMarco is among the best big men in Colorado and averages 16 points and 11 rebounds per game.  The 6-7 junior has reached double figures in points in every game this season and added at least 10 rebounds in 11 of them.  His season high in points (23) came against Palisade and rebounds (21) vs Eagle Valley.
Brandon Herrera (15.5) is a second major contributor on offense.  He went over the 1,000-point mark earlier this season and the point guard also provides nearly five assists per game.  Payton White, with eight points and six rebounds per game, is a third offensive threat.
Frontier Academy won just two conference games inside the Patriot but cannot be overlooked due to the play of senior Zach Hidalgo.  A four-year starter, Hidalgo has netted over 13-hundred career points and still manages to score despite constant attention from opposing defenses.
Pagosa Springs is also led by a four-year starter in Isiah Griego. He averages 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and needs just 26 points this weekend reach 700 over the past two years.  The Pirates were upset by Monte Vista in the opening round of the district tournament but a strong regular season against a top-notch schedule still got them to 19th in the bracket.
Pace will be crucial against Manual as the Pirates do not want to get into an up-and-down affair with the Thunderbolts.  Pagosa Springs has six wins this year while scoring less than 50 points and they may need a seventh such effort on Friday.
Manual of course is paced by the very talented Jaedon Bowles.  Among the most explosive scorers in Colorado, Bowles averages over 23 points a game and dropped in 34 against Kent Denver in a district semifinal loss.  Bowles has totaled at least 30 points in six games this year including 50 in an early win over Pinnacle.
 

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