It’s difficult to believe that a month has passed in the 2017-18 boys basketball season — for that matter, it’s hard to believe it is 2018.
But the simple fact is both statements are true. The first month has come and gone, as have the majority of the many tournaments that run early in the season. That can only mean that league play is just around the corner — or, in some cases, has already started.
What a month it was for the Class 4A ranks. A number of teams are off to blazing starts in the classification. Last season’s state runner-up, Lewis-Palmer, jumped out to a 6-0 start that included victories over Golden and Pueblo South (both of which were semifinalists last March).
Speaking of the Demons and Colts, they are a combined 16-4 through the first month. The Colts dropped a game to Golden early in December, and the Demons went 2-1 in a tournament in Alaska before the winter break.
Silver Creek (4-0), Ponderosa (8-1) and Littleton (7-1) are also off to strong starts.
A handful of players poured in the points in bunches through the first month of play. Skyline senior Brayden Blick is averaging 27.5 points through six games, and Silver Creek’s Trent Dykema isn’t far behind at 26.8 through four games.
Golden’s Adam Thistlewood has a pair of games with more than 30 points and is averaging 23.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. Sierra senior Derrian Reed is scoring at a clip of 23 points per game.
As the transition is made back into playing games — starting with three games Jan. 2 — here is a look at some of the top 4A games to watch this week:
The afore-mentioned Blick leads Skyline (4-2) into Broomfield to face a Holy Family (4-4) squad that endured a rocky close to December. Tip-off is 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Skyline won four of its final five games in the first month of the season but has not played a game since Dec. 12. Blick topped the 30-point mark in each of Skyline’s first four games, and sophomore Austin Robison has averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Holy Family had won four in a row before dropping its final three games of the month to Broomfield, Pueblo South and Pueblo West. Juniors Kyle Helbig (12.9 points and Tanner Baird (12.6) have paced the Tigers.
Golden (7-2) and D’Evelyn (4-4) have had some tremendous contests in recent years. The 4A Jeffco League opener for both teams is 7 p.m. on Thursday at D’Evelyn.
Golden most recently split a pair of games with Ketchikan, Alaska. Thistlewood scored 29 points in an overtime loss before the break to go along with 12 rebounds. Joe Madsen added 11 points.
D’Evelyn lost three of its first four games before winning three of the final four before the break. Three of the four losses have come by a combined 12 points. Senior Charles Dinegar is averaging a double-double at 19.6 points and 10.4 rebounds and will be a tough matchup for Thistlewood. Senior Cole Clifton is averaging 14.4 points.
One of the feel-good stories of the young season comes from Littleton High, where the Lions are off to a 7-1 start after winning a combined 11 games over the previous four seasons. Littleton gets a big test Thursday night with a visit from defending state champion Valor Christian (2-6), which has played a schedule loaded with 5A teams and a handful of games in Las Vegas in the Tarkanian Classic.
Littleton, which was just 1-22 a year ago, has a strong senior presence leading its surge. Justin Cutter is averaging 17.5 points, Jason Levy is just shy of 14 points a game and Liam McDonald nearly has a double-double for the season at 10.9 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Valor Christian, which was hit hard by graduation, is coming off a 1-3 showing in Las Vegas. But with 4A Jeffco play starting, the Eagles have plenty of time to turn things around. Senior Jeremy Randle leads the team at 16.8 points a game, and former Colorado Academy standout Hunter Shkapich is averaging 11.4 points.
Steamboat Springs is off to a nice start at 5-2, and the Sailors get a second chance at Roosevelt (4-1) in a non-league title at 8 p.m. on Thursday in the Roughrider Shootout.
Roosevelt defeated Steamboat Springs 67-61 in overtime in the Steamboat Springs shootout on Dec. 9. Junior Mac Riniker had 21 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists in that contest for the Sailors — Riniker is averaging 16.9 points through seven games.
Roosevelt’s only setback came to Mead by eight points before the break. Four players have averaged in double figures, led by senior T.J. Sterling.
Mountain View visits Longmont at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in a Northern League battle. The Mountain Lions (6-3) dropped their first two games of the season, but have won six of the past seven. A team that nearly made it to the quarterfinals a year ago has received a boost from senior Brexton Butcher, who has averaged almost 19 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists in his five games.
Longmont (4-1) fell to Golden by two points in overtime in the team’s only loss this season. The Trojans have relied on the hot hand of senior Luke Johnson, who is averaging 17.8 points in five games.
The 5A/4A Pikes Peak League is already underway, and Friday night a hot Palmer Ridge team takes its 8-2 overall record into a home game with Falcon (4-2).
Falcon has dropped two of its past three games, but those losses came to 3A Manual and Pueblo South. Four players are scoring in double figures for the Falcons, led by senior Reece Warren at 16.3 points. Brendan LaRose is averaging a double-double at 14.4 points and 12.4 boards.
Palmer Ridge is riding an eight-game winning streak after losing its first two games. The Bears are among the most balanced scoring offenses in 4A, with three players scoring at more than eight points a game.
Colorado Preps is pleased to welcome Brian Miller to the writing staff and he will provide updates on Class 4A boys and girls each week remaining in the season.