Posted On: 01/12/18 1:25 PM
The 2017-18 Colorado high school basketball season is in full swing and the winter break is over. With the New Year comes the excitement of conference races all across the state.
To prepare fans for league play, Prep Hoops is doing a preview series for each of Colorado’s Class 5A and 4A conferences, including which players to watch, what to expect and other noteworthy info on each league’s top teams.
In what could be the toughest conference in the state, let’s look at three of the more intriguing teams in the Centennial League. There have already been plenty of “upsets,” and just about every game figures to be a close one, but right now those teams are Grandview (11-1), Overland (5-7) and Smoky Hill (7-5).
Last year’s record: 21-5, 10-4 in Centennial
Head coach: Michael Rogers
Players to watch: Ben Boone (Sr.), Caleb Mcgill (So.), Dayne Prim (Jr.), Tyler Unger (Jr.), Davon Walker (Jr.)
Through the Wolves’ first 12 games, a pair of juniors in Dayne Prim (14.3 ppg) and Davon Walker (11.0) have taken the lead in terms of scoring the basketball. With those two leading the way and their defense remaining solid, the Wolves have not lost to a Colorado team yet this season and are ranked No. 2 in 5A by the CHSAANow.com poll. One of those wins was against No. 8 Smoky Hill, and the Wolves are off to a strong start in conference play.
What to expect from Grandview this year
One of a few true contenders in an incredibly talented league. The early portion of Centennial League play has been as up and down as everyone expected, with upsets and down-to-the-wire games left and right. Grandview, however, has managed to remain just one of two teams to start conference play with a 3-0 record. This team appears to have the talent and the poise it will take to win this league championship, but the Wolves are not alone in that regard either.
Last year’s record: 13-11, 9-5 in Centennial
Head coach: Danny Fisher
Players to watch: Laolu Oke (Sr.), Tucson Redding (Sr.), Jalone Rice (Jr.), Daijon Smith (Sr.), Goy Wang (Sr.)
The other Centennial team to start league play at 3-0, the Trailblazers always seem to be in the mix for a league title and that hasn’t changed this season. Don’t let their sub-.500 record fool you either, as several of their losses came at the ultra-competitive Tarkanian Classic in December. The Trailblazers have also already taken a game head-to-head from Smoky Hill, which will only better their chances moving forward.
What to expect from Overland this year
Expect great things from Daijon Smith and Tucson Redding. The senior duo is off to a great start as the one-two punch atop the Trailblazers’ rotation, averaging a combined 31.5 points a game. These two also lead the team in assists and steals and their playmaking ability will continue to be on display as the Trailblazers build momentum towards the postseason.
Smoky Hill Buffaloes
Last year’s record: 16-9, 8-6 in Centennial
Head coach: Anthony Hardin
Players to watch: William Becker (Sr.), Kyle Cabs (Sr.), Kenny Foster (Jr.), John Harge (Sr.), Quinten Rock (So.)
The Buffaloes are ranked No. 8 in 5A by the CHSAANow.com poll, but it has been a rough start to the conference schedule so far. But that can happens when a team faces a great opponent every night. They have already lost to both Grandview and Overland, and fell 55-53 to Cherokee Trail in overtime. At 0-3 early on, it will be tough for one of the early favorites to play its way back into contention for a league title but don’t count this group out once it’s playoff time.
What to expect from Smoky Hill this year
Expect a dangerous dark horse team in 5A. Despite the aforementioned blemishes on their league record, if you can even truly call them that, the Buffaloes also have a win over then-No. 2 George Washington to their credit. With a trio of talented scorers in John Harge (15.9 ppg), Quinten Rock (13.7) and Kenny Foster (12.6), they can attack opponents in a number of ways and have what it takes to compete with any team in 5A once they get back into a rhythm.