It’s debatable. Which one of Colorado’s upper-class followings for boys basketball are more excited about not having to travel to Boulder for final rounds?
Class 5A fans, mostly in the Denver area, have proven loyal and willing to hit the road, and their central location had made the trip up Highway 36 fairly reasonable despite the usual complaining.
But the more popular feeling is 4A followers have gotten a larger break, especially those in the southern area, which has accounted for many of the qualifiers. As it was, fans from southeastern Aurora and Highlands Ranch had been unhappy about making the Boulder dash, but those in Colorado Springs and Pueblo usually had to deal with multiple rush hours in addition to the 100-plus-mile, one-way jaunts.
We’ll see if the crowds grow at the Denver Coliseum, where 4A boys will begin final four play on Friday to be followed by the title game – and new champion — on Saturday.
Here are capsule looks at the final four:
(12) Golden vs. (1) Valor Christian, 4 p.m.
Both are seeking their first state championships in the sport. … And they played twice during the 4A Jefferson County League season. Golden (19-7) lost twice to the Eagles, 68-53 on Jan. 7 and 60-41 on Feb. 1. … However, keep this in mind – the Demons also lost twice to Evergreen in 4A Jeffco, yet beat them on Saturday in the Great 8 by 59-52. … Golden won nine of its first 10 games, losing only to Holy Family, which it beat in the Sweet 16. The Demons appear to be intent on getting even. … Golden was established in 1873; Valor Christian in 2007. … Demons coach John Anderson graduated from Smoky Hill in 1986 and is in his 17th season. … The Demons last made the semifinals in 2003 and 2005. … Junior Adam Thistlewood (18.8 points) and senior Kayden Sund (13.9) head Golden scoring. … Valor (22-4), last season’s state runner-up, has been itching to add a boys basketball title to its every-growing list. The Eagles have won at least 20 games in every season since 2011-12, as they are an aggregate 133-25. … Valor, which has won 14 games in a row, began the season with a 24-point loss to 5A Doherty. … Football isn’t the only game the McCaffreys have helped the Eagles. Third-oldest of four brothers, Dylan McCaffrey, headed to play quarterback at Michigan for the Wolverines and coach Jim Harbaugh, has used his 6-foot-5 frame to contribute 12.6 points, defend and rebound. Sophomore Luke also is on the roster. … The Eagles’ main contributor remains Jaylen Sanders, who knows how to fill a box score — he’s getting 22.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.8 steals and 3.0 blocks. … Kayle Knuckles adds 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds.
(6) Lewis-Palmer vs. (2) Pueblo South, 5:30 p.m.
It’s a regular thing for Monument’s Lewis-Palmer. The Rangers (22-4) have won at least 19 games in each season since 2008-09 but one. They also were state champions from 2012-13, second in 2015, made the final four from 2010-11 and are a sparkling 193-49 over nine seasons. That’s a resume. … Lewis-Palmer has won 18 games in a row and last loss to Vista Ridge on Jan. 6. The Rangers had started 4-4 and lost to Golden on Dec. 1. They also beat Pueblo South on Dec. 15. … They tied with 5A Vista Ridge to win the Pikes Peak League. … Sophomore Joel Scott (14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds), senior Billy Cook (13.3, 6.4) and senior Angelo Battistelli (13.1 points) make the Rangers go. … Lewis-Palmer needed two overtimes, but got past D’Evelyn by 80-77 in the Sweet 16. … Pueblo South broke out three years ago. The Colts (20-6) had won only 10 games from the 2010-11 season to 2012-13. But they picked it up by going 22-3, 19-7, 21-4 and this season’s 20-6. … They are coming off a rousing victory at a raucous Pueblo Events Center – the Colts held off city rival and defending state champion Pueblo West 64-62. Some 4,175 fans were in attendance as the Colts won the season series 2-1 after spitting at home during South Central League play. Juniors Marcell Barbee and Jeremy Cody led the way. Barbee had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Cody eight and five. Cody also had a big game defensively. Said Cody to the Pueblo Chieftain: “The most fun I’ve ever had in my life in a sports game, for sure.” … Entering on a 10-game roll, the Colts are topped in scoring by Senior Deshiloh Stanleyat 15.1 points. Cody (12.5) and Barbee (11.7) are next.