A turnaround? Overland has had a turnaround.
The Aurora Trailblazers, a couple of seasons removed from back-to-backÂ Â Class 5A championships, began 2017-18 slowly at 1-7. And it wasn’t like they were playing nobodies. No, they lost to a fair amount of Colorado’s elite, notably Regis Jesuit, Rock Canyon, George Washington (twice, here and in a las Vega tournament) and ThunderRidge. Plus, there was a setback to touted Bishop Gorman.
However, head coach Danny Fisher and Overland have turned it around completely, winning nine games in succession, eight in the Centennial League and another over another historically strong Aurora team, Rangeview.
And the Trailblazers (10-7, 8-0) have a three-game league lead with six to play, the largest of any big-school group.
How have they done it? With patience and timely defense and scoring. Overland is allowing only about 55 points per outing in all games, has only permitted more than 60 points in one of its league games and leads the Centennial in composite scoring, 1,122 points, headed by seniors Daijon Smith (14.9 points) and Tucson Redding (14.6).
The Trailblazers will host Cherry CreekÂ on WednesdayÂ and be at Smoky HillÂ on Saturday.
Across the classification, it may be a lighter week than usual in terms of high-end matchups, but these are the kind games that can separate the good from the very good.
In the Southwestern, 4A Montrose at Fruita Monument (12-7), both 3-1 in league, will decide its lead. Senior Trey Morrill (14.3 points) heads the host Wildcats.
To theÂ south, Rampart (12-5, 4-2) and Fountain-Fort Carson (8-10, 5-2) entered the week in hot pursuit of the Colorado Springs Metro lead. They will go at itÂ on Friday. The visiting Rams, topped by Dawson Carper (19.1 points, 9.4 rebounds), Xavier Johnson (16.6 points) and Josh Kavalec (16.1), have credentials. The Trojans also have a loyal home following and balanced scoring, headed by Keyshawn Maltbia (10.0 points).
Fossil Ridge (10-7, 7-0) has the Front Range lead. Coach Matt Johannsen and Brandon Lambrecht (11.0 points) will host a hot Fairview, winner of seven games in succession,Â on Friday. The Knights are just a game back in the loop.
Rock Canyon (17-0 overall) continues to top 5A, but at the moment is second in the Continental (4-0). In fact, Chaparral (15-3, 5-0) holds the league lead. The two will meetÂ on FridayÂ at the Wolverines’ Parker home, where the Jaguars’ Sam Masten (22.2) will be on the floor against Chaparral’s Ronnie DeGray (18.9). Further Continental mattersÂ on FridayÂ will feature ThunderRidge (16-1, 4-0 and winner of 10 straight games) at rival Highlands Ranch (13-4, 3-2).
By the by, if you’re wondering when Rock Canyon will meet ThunderRidge, the Jags will be at the Grizzlies onÂ Feb. 16, the regular-season finale for both.
Of the other leagues, Denver East and George Washington sit atop the Denver Prep (and GW was won 27 consecutive DPL games); Rangeview (11-6, 4-0) heads the East Metro Athletic Conference; Arvada West (11-6, 6-2) and Bear Creek (10-5, 6-2) share current Jeffco honors; and Doherty (14-3, 7-0) began the week with a two-game edge in the C.S. Metro.