The Colorado high school basketball season is at the midway mark as conference play is beginning around the state. Colorado has an unusually high number of star players right now by the state's standards and Division 1 recruits like Dominique Collier, Jeremiah Paige, Toby Van Ry, Jake Pemberton, Zach Braxton and others lead some of the strongest teams. Here is a mid-season recap of Class 5A Colorado High School Basketball for the 2013-14 season.
Class 5A Mid-Season Rankings
1. Denver East-The highly talented Angels have lost 3 games in out of state tourneys to touted teams from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and North Carolina, but also claimed the Great Western Shootout title in Utah and are 6-0 in-state. They have good wins over Cherry Creek, ThunderRidge, and Eaglecrest. The state's defending Mr. Basketball, Dom Collier, is averaging 21.8 points and 2.8 steals per game and looks poised to claim the Mr. Basketball award again. SF Ronnie Harrell, a Creighton recruit, has been outstanding enough to be in the mix for All-Colorado honors as well. Jevon Griffin, Tyre Robinson, and Brian Carey are all D1 prospects of their own. Denver East has yet to put together their best game, but they still have easily the most talented roster in Colorado and will be a handful for any team they play.
2. Fossil Ridge-The Sabercats are a senior laden bunch that has played extremely well together this season. This still young program, Fossil Ridge opened in 2004, has reached the Sweet 16 a few times and the Elite 8 once but never the Final Four. They hope to change that this season. Fossil Ridge is 10-0 with wins over ThunderRidge, Grandview, and Eaglecrest and have been dominant in most games thus far. They are a very disciplined, smart team with capable guards and leaders. The Sabercats are known for their variety of zone defenses that give offenses fits and for their many shooters. Evan Smith and Alex Semadeni, a pair of seniors, lead the Front Range League favorites.
3. Regis Jesuit-Regis has a similar team to Fossil Ridge. They have no huge individual standouts, but several good, solid players and they have their usual well coached squad. The Raiders rarely take a poor shot and are very patient in their offense. Taylor Kallsen, Bryan Staerkel, Zach Smith, and Devin Kadillak are all shot making guards and Kip Boryla, a 6'5 forward, is a crafty junior scorer. Elijah Sanford is an undersized but athletic and hard nosed defensive player. Regis is yet again a Final Four contender.
4. Overland-The Trailblazers are coming off the first five overtime game in 5A boys basketball history after a thrilling 111-107 road win at Cherokee Trail. Hyped 6'9, 240 pound power forward, De'Ron Davis, a sophomore who is ranked #16 in his class by Rivals, recorded 46 points and 21 rebounds in the game. Davis is already a serious contender for All-Colorado honors. His combination of strength, agility, footwork, rebounding, and soft touch around the rim make him a force in Colorado. Overland also boasts point guard Austin Conway, a super athlete with a CSU football offer and CSU basketball interest, and Reggie Gibbons, a small sophomore guard with stellar ballhandling skills and an impressive combination of moves. Overland relies on four sophomores and several juniors and are still a youthful team, but their combination of speed, size, and star power makes them a contender for a deep run in the state tourney. The Trailblazers are 8-3 with two losses coming out of state and the other at the hands of Regis on the road.
5. Cherry Creek-The Bruins have their best team in several years and are perhaps early season co-favorites with Overland and Eaglecrest to claim the Centennial League title, 5A's premier conference this season. Cherry Creek has a quick and fast backcourt of Caesar Jones and Taylor Shepard. Jones and Shepard are outstanding on the fastbreak and constantly push the pace of the game and utilize their athleticism. Will Bower is a 6'3 junior small forward who plays above the rim with his leaping ability. He is an effective scorer and a good defender. Griffin Parr and Hayden Parr are solid for the Bruins. Cherry Creek has a collection of speed, discipline, shot makers, and leaders that make them a team that should challenge for a #1 seed.
6. Mountain Vista-The Golden Eagles lost four starters off of last season's Final Four squad, but the program has reloaded and proven to be a top 10 team once again. Denver Pioneer recruit Jake Pemberton, a 6'3 shooting guard, is averaging 18.9 points, 6.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 3 steals per game and has been mostly unstoppable his senior season. Five other players average between 12.3 and 9.5 points for this high powered offense. Mountain Vista has played somewhat of a soft schedule so far, but are 10-1 heading into the always competitive Continental League schedule.
7. Eaglecrest-The Raptors lost 72-61 at home last week to Cherry Creek and have also experienced close losses to Denver East and Fossil Ridge. Eaglecrest, 8-3, is a work in progress, but the defending 5A state champions have also proven to be a reflection of their coach this season. They are a tough minded, confident team that never backs down from a challenge and never gives up in a game even while down big, as proven by their comeback from a 21 point deficit at Grandview last week. Eaglecrest is a well coached team with lots of athleticism and talent. Elijah Ross, LaDerian King, and Jaisean Jackson are athletic guards who can cause problems for an offense with their quick hands and ability to get steals. They disrupt passing lanes and are always looking to score in transition. Blend Avdili is a 6'5 junior forward with a calm demeanor and an unshakable confidence. He is a strong rebounder and a good overall player. Eaglecrest will need to shoot the ball better to make the Final Four again, but their defense, talent, and coaching makes them very dangerous again.
8. Grandview-Grandview is undersized and lacks a post presence that can score, but they have big, strong, athletic wings to go along with a capable point guard and shooters. The Wolves are tough on defense and Jarred Burr is a floor general who is strong with the ball. He makes good decisions and puts the talented guards around him in positions to succeed. KyRon Allen and Devon Brown are big guards with scoring ability. Allen has a very soft jumper and can get on hot streaks. Keanu Flores is a lanky guard who is fearless. He is an effective catch and pop shooter who is a smart player. Grandview will struggle this season against big teams with the ability to dominate the paint, but this is another good team for the typically tough Wolves' program.
9. Arapahoe- The Warriors have their usual team marked by excellent coaching and a disciplined, well oiled system. Arapahoe has been stifling on defense as they are only giving up 48.5 points per contest and they have three leaders who carry the scoring burden in Corbin Atwell (14.0), Ethan Brunhofer (12.7), and Brendan Till (12.5). The team is undersized but have good senior leaders and depth. Expect Arapahoe to be a factor in the Centennial League race.
10. ThunderRidge-ThunderRidge has been a power for years under one of the state's most respected and most successful coaches, Joe Ortiz. This season's Grizzlies squad only has one senior on varsity, but has good junior and sophomore classes. They have size with 6'10 junior Zach Pirog, a raw but developing player who could turn into a prospect one day, and sophomores Mitch Bloom (6'6), Austin Mueller (6'5), and Clay Verk (6'5). ThunderRidge also has depth and solid guard play with shooter Noah Szilagyi and leading scorer Elias Tiedgen. This team is a work in progress and is 7-4, but 5-2 in-state with their lone losses to Denver East and Fossil Ridge. Ortiz led teams always improve dramatically over the course of a season. Expect him to get the most out of his team once again.
Honorable Mention: Monarch, Rangeview, Grand Junction, Chatfield
Top Contenders: Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, and Overland
MVP of the Conference thus far: De'Ron Davis of Overland
Top Contenders: Mountain Vista, Regis Jesuit, Highlands Ranch, and ThunderRidge
MVP of the Conference thus far: Zach Braxton of Highlands Ranch
Colorado Springs Metro
Top Contenders: Doherty, Rampart, and Pine Creek
MVP of the Conference thus far: AJ Bohuslavsky of Liberty
Denver Prep League
Top Contenders: Denver East
MVP of the Conference thus far: Dom Collier of Denver East
Top Contenders: Rangeview
MVP of the Conference thus far: Jeremiah Paige of Rangeview
Top Contenders: Fossil Ridge, Monarch, Horizon, and Fort Collins
MVP of the Conference thus far: Toby Van Ry of Fort Collins
Top Contenders: Chatfield, Arvada West, Ralston Valley, and Dakota Ridge
MVP of the Conference thus far: Marcus Asmus of Standley Lake
Top Contenders: Grand Junction
MVP of the Conference thus far: Broderick Robinson of Grand Junction
Stat Leaders in 5A
26.1 Marcus Asmus of Standley Lake
24.7 Michael Sparks of Lincoln
23.8 DJ Miles of Bear Creek
21.8 Dom Collier of Denver East
21.8 Jeremiah Paige of Rangeview
21.8 Darius Reiter of Chatfield
12.6 Zach Braxton of Highlands Ranch
12.3 Brandon Wilson Columbine
12.0 Marcus Asmus of Standley Lake
11.4 Austin Hall of Gateway
10.6 Graham Smith of Mountain Vista
6.9 Jake Pemberton of Mountain Vista
5.6 Tucker Holden of Columbine
5.6 Mitch Lombard of Rock Canyon
5.3 Ben Beauchamp of Monarch
4.9 Evan O'Dorisio of Lakewood
4.2 Nico Brunetti-Ball of Legacy
4.0 Tyler Garcia of Rock Canyon
3.4 Evan Smith of Fossil Ridge
3.3 Will Duggan of Fort Collins
3.3 Jontrell Herman of Castle View
3.1 Zach Braxton of Highlands Ranch
3.0 DJ Wells of Grand Junction
2.9 Jacob Montour of Northglenn
2.7 Tyre Robinson of Denver East
2.7 Dallas Walton of Ralston Valley
Mid-Season All-State for 5A:
G Dom Collier of Denver East
G Jeremiah Paige of Rangeview
G Jake Pemberton of Mountain Vista
F Ronnie Harrell of Denver East
C Zach Braxton of Highlands Ranch
G Michael Sparks of Lincoln
G Broderick Robinson of Grand Junction
F De'Ron Davis of Overland
F Marcus Asmus of Standley Lake
C Toby Van Ry of Fort Collins
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