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Posted On: 02/13/17 10:32 PM
The two teams that have sat atop our rankings all season have a chance to go win their league titles this week. There are so many things to watch as we count down to Selection Sunday.
Our final 5A regular-season rankings provide a good taste of what’s to come:
1. ThunderRidge (20-1; LW: 1)
The Grizzlies are nearing a highly impressive feat: an entire regular season without a loss to an in-state opponent. The only defeat T-Ridge has suffered this season came five days before Christmas, when the lost to Goldby (Tallahassee, Fla.) 62-53. The Grizzlies have won 12 straight since then, and they pulled off a couple big wins last week without senior leader Corey Seng, who is nursing an injured wrist. A win over Ponderosa would give T-Ridge no worse than a share of a the Continental League title, but the Grizzlies would then be able to win it outright with a win over second-place Rock Canyon on Friday.
2. George Washington (20-2; LW: 2)
The Patriots have their own marquee matchup in store on this Saturday against old teammate and Daylen Kountz, a game that will likely determine the winner of the Denver Public League. G-Dub hasn’t lost since its lone in-state setback against No. 1 ThunderRidge back on Jan. 6. It’s now crunch time for the Patriots, who have their sights set on nothing less than a state title.
3. Eaglecrest (18-3; LW: 6)
There is no tougher battle on a week-in, week-out basis than what is offered by the Centennial League. And yet, the Raptors have won 11 of 12 games in the league and can clinch the league title with victories this week over Smoky Hill and Cherokee Trail. Eaglecrest, as it showed in gritty wins over Grandview and Cherry Creek, just knows how to win, and that experience is difficult to account for at this stage in the season. It is simply propelling the Raptors right now. Well, that and player-of-the-year candidate Colbey Ross.
4. Chatfield (20-1; LW: 3)
We recognize that it certainly doesn’t seem fair to drop a team that has won 19 straight games and has only one loss this season. But when Eaglecrest and Chatfield were being considered for a top three spot this week, it became the Raptors’ head-to-head win that won out. Of course, this matters little to the Chargers at this point. They are wins over Dakota Ridge and Columbine away from finishing a second straight undefeated 5A JeffCo League season. What an accomplishment.
5. Doherty (18-3; LW: 7)
It was quite a week for the Spartans. They beat Denver East on the road, beat rival Rampart 79-74 on the road to win a second straight 5A Colorado Springs Metro League title and then celebrated their seniors, including player-of-the-year candidate Brevin Brimble, before a rout of Palmer that capped a 3-0 week. The Spartans have a non-league game against Legend on Tuesday and can then complete a 12-0 CSML campaign with a win over Fountain-Fort Carson on Friday. If you don’t think Doherty is a legit state championship contender, you probably haven’t paid much attention to this cohesive, tough-as-nails group.
6. Rock Canyon (18-3; LW: 4)
The Jaguars saw their dreams of a perfect Continental League run end last week with a heartbreaking 59-56 overtime loss to Highlands Ranch in which 6-2 Falcons senior guard Holten Sparling had 20 points, four assists and three rebounds. Rock Canyon lost the game despite 27 points from Sam Masten. Still, the Jaguars are in position to claim a share of the Continental League title. The path: a road victory over Castle View and then a home victory over No. 1 ThunderRidge on Friday. Things are sure to be rockin’ in The Jungle!
7. Grandview (18-3; LW: 5)
Dreams of a Centennial League title for Grandview were done in by losses last week to Eaglecrest and Overland, which is playing just about as well as any team in the state these days. Still, the Wolves have the firepower, as they’ve shown most of the season, to beat anyone and will be a feared team come the postseason. They can reach the 20-win mark with wins over Cherry Creek and Mullen this week.
8. Denver East (16-6; LW: 8)
The Angels bounced back from a loss to hot-shooting Doherty early in the week to take care of business against DPL foe Denver South. Daylen Kountz, East’s standout 6-4 wing, had five dunks and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the victory. Now, after running past Denver West to begin this week, the Angels have set themselves up for something special. Beat rival George Washington in the Thunderdome on Saturday and they’ll be DPL champs.
9. Fort Collins (18-3; LW: 9)
The Lambkins moved to 10-0 in the 5A Front Range last week with victories over Poudre and Horizon that put them on the doorstep of the league title. A win at Legacy on Tuesday or at Monarch on Thursday and Fort Collins will be the league champ.
10. Mountain Vista (14-7; LW: unranked)
The Golden Eagles played ThunderRidge just about as tough last week as anyone has all season. Vista has surged since the return of point guard Isaac Essien and will be a big threat in the postseason.