Conference Preview

Posted On: 10/29/15 6:30 PM

2014-15:  15-9, 10-4 in Centennial; lost to Boulder in Second Round

Top 100 prospects: David Thornton (#21 in 2016), Ronnie Barfield (#35 in 2016), Daniel Turner (#96 in 2016), Jaizec Lottie (#3 in 2017), KJ Sapp (#26 in 2017), Ian Kelly (#96 in 2017), Keonte Kennedy (#17 in 2018), Deon Barfield (#24 in 2018)

Key losses:  Izaiah Lottie (New Mexico State football recruit), Kameron Brandon, Drequez Harvey, Brandon Scott

Key returners:  Thornton, Barfield, Turner, Lottie, Sapp, Kelly, Barfield, Isiah Gilbert, Kennedy (transferred in from Regis)

Outlook:  Cherokee Trail, one of the largest high schools in Colorado with over 2,600 students, has become a force in sports since the school opened in 2003.

The Cougars have claimed four state titles—two in boys track, one in girls track, and one in baseball—and have contended in a number of other sports, such as volleyball (No. 1 in the latest CHSAANow poll in Class 5A). With some of the most luxurious facilities around and with such a large student body, it’s easy to see why CT has done so well.

In basketball, as with most other sports, the Cougars have certainly had talent the past several years. They even reached the Great 8 during the 2012-13 season on the shoulders of Roderick Bernstine and Jay Nelson.

Despite a number of successful seasons, CT has maybe never possessed the star power they have going into this season though.

David Thornton and Ronnie Barfield are explosive wings, Jaizec Lottie might be the best pure point guard in Colorado, and KJ Sapp might as well be nicknamed ‘Flash.’ The Cougars, up and down the lineup, are as athletically gifted as any team in the state.

But, despite their extreme talent and extreme potential, Coliseum or even Final 4 could be possibilities, CT is undersized and, at times, haven’t played with the intensity needed to be consistently good.

In the end, there’s little doubt Cherokee Trail will once again be one of the more entertaining teams to watch. Thornton is known as a dunk artist and Lottie is a wonderful playmaker. Sapp is a terror in the open floor. If this team can become more cohesive and play with a more regular fire, they seem capable of beating just about anybody.

Either way, Cherokee Trail deserves preseason top 10 status. Firepower is in place and, after another season of experience, the Cougars might reap the benefits this winter.