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Boys' basketball season preview: Team-by-team capsules
2. Fountain-Ft. Carson
2. Sand Creek
3. St. Mary’s
2A & below
A team-by-team glance at the upcoming boys' basketball season:
Coach: James Lane (second season)
Last season: 8-15
Key players: Shane Fox, jr., G/F; Nelson Keith, sr., F/C; Eli Peterson, jr.
Outlook: Team chemistry should be solid after the group played 40 games together over the summer. Fox (7.6 ppg, 5.3 rpb) and Keith (5.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) are the leading returners statistically, and Peterson is a transfer from Japan. Lane, a former standout player, sees a “hard-working group of players that are motivated to improve daily.”
Coach: Greg Williams (second season)
Last season: 17-7
Key players: Al Davis, sr., G; Anthony Davis, sr., G; Cameron Hacker, jr., G/F
Outlook: The Davis twins lead the way, but there’s little in terms of returning experience to go along with them, and the balanced scoring that led the Trojans to a league title last year might not be there this time around. That doesn’t mean there’s not talent on the roster. Trevonne Alexander, AJ Watson and Dominique LaSalle will have an opportunity to contribute and Williams, who was thrust into action on short notice last season, has had this team through a full offseason.
Coach: Ivan Chambers (first season)
Last season: 12-11
Key players: AJ Bohuslavsky, jr, G; Matt Love, sr., F; Garet Bohuslavsky, sr., G; Brandon Wilburn, sr., F
Outlook: Before closing on a four-game losing streak, the Lancers were the upstart team of the 5A Metro. Every key member of that team returns, so this figures to be the season they take a step forward. AJ Bohuslavsky led the team with 15.5 ppg. He figures to emerge as one of the most prolific scorers in 5A. Love, Garet Bohuslavsky and Wilburn each averaged more than 9.6 ppg, so don’t look for scoring to be an issue. Chambers returns after a year-and-a-half hiatus after leading the Air Academy girls. He envisions a roster that goes eight or nine deep that will allow him to put multiple combinations on the floor to adjust to any style.
Coach: Jim Grantz (ninth season)
Last season: 6-17
Key players: CJ Moore, sr., G; Nathan Raak, soph., F; Jacob Akers, sr., G; Marquise Rucker, jr., F; Barry Thomas, soph., G/F
Outlook: Last year’s down year means little, considering the “new blood” that Grantz has infused into his program that includes two sophomores, four juniors and three seniors who are either transfers or new to varsity. The challenge will be blending the youth and talent. Moore (8.7 ppg) is the leading returning scorer. One to watch is Thomas, who at 6-foot-3, can play forward while possessing a guard’s skill set.
Coach: Duke Stewart (third season)
Last season: 11-13
Key players: Joey Black, jr.; Rhett Lopez, sr.; Jase Hamstad, sr.; Dalton Coker, sr.
Outlook: This will be a new-look squad, as the Eagles’ five leading scorers were seniors last year (paced by JT Travis, who scored 25 ppg). Black, 6-4, is the leading returning scorer after averaging 5.3 ppg. The other key returners offer plenty of size and intrigue, particularly Lopez (6-4) and Hamstad (6-5).
Coach: Patrick Simpson (third season)
Last season: 7-16
Key players: Thomas Fife, jr., PG; Donovan Oldham, soph., F; Donte Monroe, sr., G
Outlook: Simpson is excited about his program. Three sophomores and four juniors will play major roles and the development has been encouraging. Fife is the team’s leader and an aggressive point guard, Oldham is a versatile player who lettered as a freshman and will open options within the offense and Monroe is a gifted athlete with a quick first step and shut-down skills on defense. A first .500 season for Simpson is a real possibility.
Coach: Myles Johnson (first season)
Last season: 17-7
Key players: Titus Rice, sr., G; Triydel Vaugh, sr., F; Kameron Hartle, jr., C
Outlook: No one knows what to expect from this group, which will replace four starters. Rice averaged 10.1 ppg last year and signed with Western State. He’s a tremendous athlete with an extremely high ceiling. Vaughn is much improved over last year, when he saw a limited role and Hartle will be expected to occupy the post at 6-3. The biggest unknown lies in the coaching staff, where Johnson (just 24) takes over after leaving Colorado Springs School and brings his former Colorado College teammate Austin Perkins (23) with him. Another assistant, Wade Jacobs, is just 21. Expect plenty of energy from the players and coaches, it’s just difficult to predict how that will translate into on-court success.
Coach: Al Blanc (first year)
Last season: 8-16
Key players: Thomas Jackson, sr., F; Linford Ocloo, sr., G; Quincy Hardin, jr., G; Anthony Deazhaor, sr., F; Andre Peppers, sr., F
Outlook: Blanc, with 39 years of experience, moves to Harrison after leaving Coronado. He’s working to establish an identity and implement his system. Jackson earned honorable mention all-league honors last season after leading the team at 14.9 ppg. It’s a program that rarely lacks talent and could make some noise in a league that is free of perennial powers like Lewis-Palmer.
Coach: George Smith (second season)
Last season: 4-19
Key players: Cody Groff, sr., G; JJ Cates, jr., G; Caine Martinez, jr., F
Outlook: The goal is .500, and Groff is one who could lead the Grizzlies to that goal. The senior reportedly had a strong summer of basketball and parlayed that into a breakout football season in which he threw 28 touchdown passes for the 4A semifinalists. That jolt in confidence could do wonders for a player who averaged 9.2 points last season to go with all-league academic honorable mention honors. Cates returns after averaging 8.3 points as a sophomore and Martinez, at 6-8, is a potential breakout player.
Coach: Jeff Cooks (fourth season)
Last season: 4-19
Key players: Philip Booze, sr., F; Aaron Cooley, sr., F; Diandre Scott, sr., PG
Outlook: Leading scorer Larry McLin (14 ppg) is gone, but Cooley scored in double figures in four of the final five games last season and Scott scored 13 points against state champion Lewis-Palmer. With six seniors, Cooks believes the team can improve to .500 or better.
Coach: Terry Dunn (third season)
Last season: 26-2
Key players: Tytus Winters, sr., PG; Carlos Tucker, sr., SF; Michael Jordan, jr., F
Outlook: One of the state’s best programs is hitting the reset button after two titles and a runner-up finish in the past four seasons. Gone are Wesley Gordon, Jalen Little, Sherron Wilson and, in total, six of the top seven scorers from last year. Returning is Dunn, a former college coach who has had nothing but success since coming back to the high school level. One player to watch is Michael Jordan – easy enough name to remember – who lacked nothing in physical gifts last year as a sophomore but looked unpolished. That may be the story with this team, at least early.
Coach: Damian T. Copeland (sixth season)
Last season: 17-9
Key players: Richie Perea, sr., PG; DJ Hanes, sr., SG; Angel Lingao, sr., SG; Gabe Ehrlin, sr., PF; Marcellus Thomas, sr., PG; Markel Borges, sr., PF; Abi Young, jr., SF; Daniel Reed, sr., PG; Lorenz Stalcap, sr., C; Dominic Garcia, sr., SG; Monico Morin, sr., PG; Kyle Hinton, sr., PF
Outlook: Perea has led 4A in assists each of the past two seasons, and his favorite target, Hanes (17.5 ppg) returns with him. The team will be bolstered by a number of transfers, including 6-10 Stalcap, a shot-blocking center. Aside from Stalcap, size will again be a concern, but experience and talent should be enough for the Thunderbirds to contend for a league title.
Coach: Brent Garretson (fourth season)
Last season: 11-14
Key players: Alan Herndon, sr., F; Damian Chatman, sr., F; Dominic Howard, sr., G; Anthony Saunders, sr., G; Thomas Fluellen, sr., F; Sergio Rocha, sr, PG
Outlook: This is the season the Gladiators have been building toward, with Herndon – who signed with Wyoming – as the centerpiece of a long, quick team. Rocha, who moved in from Fresno, Calif., is a true point guard and joins a roster rife with experience (at least in the group of starters; the bench will be young). Marquis Coddington tore an ACL during football season and will be missed as he played in all but one game last season.
(NOTE: No information provided for Woodland Park)
4A PIKES PEAK ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Coach: Barry Clark (fifth season)
Last season: 10-15
Key players: Geno Bigelow, sr., G; Tory Belveal, sr., G; Bobby Davis, jr., G; Devon Tang, jr., G
Outlook: Last year’s 10-15 record marked a seven-game improvement over the previous season and also included a postseason victory. Clark will look to continue that trend behind Bigelow, who averaged 10.2 points in his first year. Belveal is a transfer from Cheyenne Mountain and Tang averaged 6.1 ppg as a sophomore, including a 9-of-18 performance from 3-point range.
Coach: J’on St.Clair (second season)
Last season: 19-7
Key players: Darrin Haynes, sr., G; Gus Nehme, jr., G; Reece Eddy, jr., C; Donivan Harville, sr., F; Cuyler Dewar, sr., F
Outlook: Junior guard Turray Hughes transferred from Harrison and Harville is back out for basketball after using last winter to bolster his football prospects – they join four returning lettermen on a team that will be able to shoot the 3 and is loaded with depth at guard and forward. Nehme averaged 12 points last season and is a Division I prospect. Haynes, who averaged 10 points and six assists, is perhaps the area’s best defender. This team will contend in a deep league.
Coach: John Paul Geniesse (sixth season)
Last season: 8-16
Key players: Andy Stauffer, sr., F; Jack Trask, sr., G; Brandon Nachbar, sr., G; Jon Parker, sr., F
Outlook: This could be a breakout team, though putting together such a season in the deep PPAC will be difficult. The Thunder lost in the first round of the state tournament by two points last season and lost six games by five points or less. Nine players from that squad return, the notable exception being Stone Hood (19.8 ppg). Hood’s production will be replaced by a balanced attack and plenty of height (Stauffer, Trask, Nachbar and Parker are each listed at 6-3 or taller). Stauffer averaged 11 points and eight rebounds last season and Parker, who played just three games last year as a junior, scored 12 ppg as a sophomore.
Coach: Greg Cox (third season)
Last season: 11-13
Key players: Nick Lenhard, sr., G; Chances Matlock, jr., G; Shaun LiVecchi, soph., F
Outlook: Lenhard (13.4 ppg), LiVecchi (12.0 ppg) and Matlock (11.0 ppg) were the team’s top three scorers last year. Cox hopes the added experience will help the Falcons stay competitive in what figures to be one of the state’s top leagues.
Coach: Russ McKinstry (eighth season)
Last season: 27-1 (4A champions)
Key players: Jordan Scott, sr.; Justin Smith, sr.; Tyler Owns, sr.; Dylan Tucker, sr.; Chase Stone, jr.
Outlook: Replacing the state’s leading scorer (Josh Scott, who is already emerging as a force at Colorado) will be no small task for the Rangers, but Jordan Scott and Smith are a nice start. Both players are 6-6, and together they figure to be the best combo in 4A. Add to that mix three-year starter Tyler Owens at point guard and some depth provided by Tucker and Stone (the junior varsity’s leading scorer last year), and a fifth consecutive semifinal appearance seems reasonable.
Coach: Nick Mayer (fifth season)
Last season: 8-16
Key players: Kenny Suder, sr., G; Matt Cameron, soph., G; Cole Hurford, soph., G; Nick Vitwar, jr., C
Outlook: The Bears lose 80 percent of their scoring from last year and hope to make up for it on the defensive end. Vitwar figures to be the defensive leader, and the goal is to play some of the stingiest basketball in the state. Suder and Cameron figure to carry much of the offensive burden.
Coach: Joe Rausch (third season)
Last season: 16-8
Key players: Josh Smith, sr., G/F; Dylan Clark, jr., G; Nick Pasley, jr., G; Micheal DeCarmo, jr., G/F; Bryan Jenkins, sr., G; Tim Clemens, sr., F; Tyler Patterson, sr., F
Outlook: The Scorpions return eight of their nine top players – including all five starters – and add two seniors who transferred in as juniors. Smith (20.5 ppg, 7.3 rpb, 2.6 apg, 2.3 spg) is among the area’s top players, and Clark (15.5 ppg) isn’t far behind. Sand Creek’s nonleague schedule includes Pine Creek, Pueblo West, Valor Christian and Widefield. That, plus the two-game, round-robin format of the PPAC should leave this team well-prepared for a deep postseason run.
Coach: Joe Hites (first season)
Last season: 12-12
Key players: Tyler Jackson, sr.; Pierre Copeland, sr.; Aaron Johnson, sr., Jerrell Bellot, sr.; Anthony Haley, sr.
Outlook: Hites returns to Colorado, where he coached Cheyenne Mountain from 2002-2008. He has piled up 300 wins in 26-year career, which is about 20 longer than Vista Ridge has existed. He comes into a program loaded with five key seniors who “have bought into a new program in a very short time.” A tough preseason schedule and an even tougher league will require maturity to navigate, and he’s looking forward to seeing how his group can handle it.
4A SOUTH CENTRAL
Coach: Greg Baxter (seventh season at school, first since 2004)
Last season: 12-11
Key players: Logun Javernick, jr., C; Blake Madone, sr., G; Wesley Jaynes, jr., G
Outlook: Four starters are gone and the Tigers will be running a new system, but Baxter expects them to be competitive in the league.
(Non-area teams in the league: Pueblo West, Pueblo East, Pueblo County, Pueblo South, Pueblo Central)
3A TRI-PEAKS (EAST)
Coach: Stuart Paddock (second season)
Last season: 2-17
Key players: Danny Rozell, sr., G; Alex Hill, sr., C; Anthony Elwood, sr., G; Clay Smitty, sr., G; Scott Paddock, jr., F; Jacob Crist, soph., F; Garrett Harper, soph., G; Javonte’ Stewart, soph., G; Morgan Murray, fr., G
Outlook: Paddock says the team is “Young and aggressive. A lot of hope and faith in this team.”
Coach: Anthony Byrd (first season)
Last season: 8-12
Key players: Devon McCaden, sr., PG; Dante Blackburn, soph., SG; Anthony Byrd Jr., sr., SF; Maurice Simpson, sr., PF; Jesse Hardin, sr., C
Outlook: Byrd wants this to be known as a defensive team in his first season. Simpson and Hardin are quality defenders on the interior and Byrd’s son, Anthony, can defend a number of positions. McCaden is a point guard with great floor vision and Blackburn plays with poise as a sophomore.
Coach: Mark Beranek (second season)
Last season: 12-10
Key players: Daniel Padrnos, sr., G; Josh McCarty, sr., PG; Hunter Holmes, sr., C; Jacob Morales, sr., F
Outlook: Padrnos averaged 11.5 points last season and hit a team-high 76-of-100 free throws, so he’s a nice piece to build around. Morales and Holmes shared the team lead with 4.2 rebounds per game and McCary delivered 27 assists – fourth on the team – while seeing time in 21 games. Beranek, a longtime area coach, has six seniors on the roster and has modestly set the goal at improving last year’s 12-10 mark.
(Non-area teams in league: La Junta, Trinidad, Pueblo Centennial, Dolores Huerta Prep, Lamar)
3A TRI-PEAKS (WEST)
Colorado Springs Christian School
Coach: Mark Engesser (second season)
Last season: 26-1
Key players: Drew Wilbur, sr., G/F; Austin Johnson, sr., G; Reagan Chapman, sr., C/F; Josh Hildenbrand, sr., G; TJ Stockton, jr., G/F
Outlook: Replacing a pair of Division I signees (Nate Engesser and Kyle Broekhuis) would be daunting for any program, let alone a 3A program, but the Lions like their chances. When this group of seniors was sophomores they went undefeated in JV, and this summer the team went 18-8 against mostly teams from the 5A and 4A levels. Size won’t be an issue, as Chapman is 6-6, Wilbur 6-4, Johnson 6-3 and Hildenbrand 6-2. Keep an eye out for freshman Sam Howard, a 6-6 standout who earned accolades in statewide events during the fall.
Coach: Dominic Aragon (first season)
Last season: 8-10
Key players: Arti Vironin, sr., SG; Joe Colarelli, jr., G; Griffin Shelor, jr., G; Jun Kim, soph., F/C; Phil Fan, soph., F/C; Joey Morris, soph., SG
Outlook: The Danes move up from 2A without a great deal of experience and a new coach (Aragon had been an assistant at Doherty). Vironin, who was fifth on the team last year at 8.4 ppg, is the leading returning scorer.
Coach: Ken Vecchio (27th season)
Last season: 21-5
Key players: KC Quarry, sr.; Chase Megyeri, jr.; Marcus Rodholm, jr.; Chad Sienknecht, sr.
Outlook: The Mustangs lose a star in Jesse Megyeri, who led them to a state berth, and have little height. However, they return three players (Quarry, Chase Megyeri and Rodholm) who received league accolades last season and Vecchio says the team “works as hard as any group I’ve had.” For a coach with a track record as long as Vecchio’s, that’s saying something. Also, Sienknecht returns after missing most of last year with an injury. Sienknecht, the team’s quarterback, led the football team to one of the state’s most remarkable turnarounds and a trip to state. Will his presence have the same kind of impact in basketball?
Coach: Paul Campbell (first season)
Last season: 12-10
Key players: Jason Anderson, jr., C/F; Ben Hooten, jr, SG; Will Ball, soph., SF; Justice Sutton, sr., F/C; Davey Haddad, jr., PG
Outlook: Seven seniors graduated from one of the school’s best teams in recent memory, but they return all kinds of size. The difference-maker figures to be Anderson, a 6-7 center/forward who can at times take over games. Ball is 6-5 and Sutton is 6-6 and even Hooten is 6-2 at his shooting guard position. The Titans should be able to create all kinds of matchup problems against their 3A foes.
(NOTE: No information provided for Florence. Non-area teams in the league: Buena Vista, Salida)
2A BLACK FOREST
Colorado Springs School
Coach: Christopher Earls (first season)
Last season: 12-10
Key players: James Chen, sr., F; Hunter Golden, jr., G/F
Outlook: The team’s top four scorers graduated, leaving Golden (3.9 ppg) and Chen (3.9 ppg) as the leading returners. However, Earls likes the athleticism of his returners and believes they are “supported by a cast of teammates that work hard and who believe in the program, which should make this team a competitive force to be reckoned with as the season progresses."
Coach: Don Bost (eighth season)
Last season: 12-9
Key players: Vincent Brackett, sr., C; Nick Branch, sr., F; JD Kohl, sr., F; Eric Lefever, G.
Outlook: Bost sees this as a rebuilding year with just one starter (Brackett – 12.1 pg, 7.4 rpg) returning. Six seniors are on the roster, but only three have seen significant playing time. The league aspirations are somewhat muted as well. Bost sees the Black Forest as a daunting task with “state title favorite Peyton at the top.”
Coach: Brian Green (seventh season)
Last season: 20-4
Key players: Ethan Abello, sr.; Jared Watkins, sr.; Chris Epps, jr.; Tyler Lashley, jr.; Tristan Heffner, jr.; Matt Martinez, soph.
Outlook: This team is loaded. Abello averaged 20.3 ppg last season and has 959 points through three seasons. He’s likely the best player in 2A. Watkins, who is 6-3 and earned first-team all-Black Forest honors last year while battling an injury. Epps, also 6-3, averaged 10.2 ppg and shot 40.8 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore. Lashley, 6-2, grabbed 22 rebounds in a regional semifinal victory last year. Providing depth will be Heffner, 6-6, and Martinez, who will contend for the point guard spot. This is a group that could, maybe should, be playing for a state title in March.
Pikes Peak Christian
Coach: Dale Miller (second season)
Last season: 10-10
Key players: Jacob Bruner, sr., G; Brian Morse, sr., F; Nathan Harris, sr., F; Mark Waters, soph., PG
Outlook: Challenges await the Eagles. They move up from 1A in a season in which they must replace their top three scorers, and then football injuries knocked out three potential starters. The four players above each averaged at least five points, so the cupboard is not bare.
Coach: Joe Wetters (third season)
Last season: 8-13
Key players: Tim Force, sr., F; Robert Stephens, sr., G; Joe Donelson, sr., G; Tyler Williams, soph., G
Outlook: Optimism is high, as 10 lettermen are back – including eight seniors – from a team that saw Vanguard post its best win total in school history. A first postseason appearance is the goal this season, as is putting athletics into the conversation about the school known primarily for its academic achievements.
(NOTE: No information provided for Calhan, CIVA Charter and Miami-Yoder. Non-area teams in the league: Kiowa, Simla)
2A/1A WEST CENTRAL
Coach: Jim Bertrand (12th season)
Last season: 4-16
Key players: Chris Irelan, sr., G/F; Cale Brown, sr., G; Toby Wuellner, soph., C
Outlook: Despite losing his three leading scorers, Bertrand sees this squad as stronger, with added height and a deeper bench.
(Non-area team in the league: Custer County)
1A BLACK FOREST
(No information provided for CSDB, Edison and Hanover.)