Posted On: 01/4/18 1:15 PM
On Tuesday, Jan. 2, the Mead and Valor Christian boys basketball teams rang in the New Year with a high-level hoops contest that was also a rematch of last year’s Class 4A Great 8 in Colorado.
Valor Christian, who knocked Mead out of the playoffs last season, capitalized on a sloppy first quarter from the Mavericks and won, 69-61. The Mavericks, however, staged a furious comeback that cut the lead to two or three multiple times but fell just short.
Here are five things that stood out in both teams’ first game of the 2018 calendar year.
Valor Christian has got to be the best 3-6 team in Colorado
The Eagles are Colorado’s defending Class 4A state champions and after graduating star player Jalen Sanders, many thought this would be a down year for the Valor Christian boys. Just looking that the Eagles’ record so far in 2017-18, those people would say they are right. But the Eagles have faced nothing by top-level in-state competition including Chaparral, Doherty and Thomas Jefferson, as well as out-of-state talents Sierra Vista (Las Vegas, NV), Kinkaid (Houston, TX) and Bountiful (Bountiful, UT) at the Tarkanian Classic. Let’s just say the Eagles aren’t likely to carry a sub-.500 record for much longer.
Jeremy Randle is definitely one to watch in 2018
The senior guard just won’t stop scoring. So far in the 2017-18 season, Randle is averaging 17.1 points a game and scored 19 points on Tuesday. But that’s not all. He is also averaging 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals. Much of that increase in production (he averaged 9.0 points last season) has been buoyed by a major step forward in his 3-point shooting average from 32 percent as a junior to an incredible 47 percent as a senior. Randle’s stock seems like it goes up with every game he plays.
Jax Wilke showing flashes that he could be one of CO’s best bigs
The Mavericks struggled in this game until junior forward Jax Wilke found a rhythm in the second half. Frankly, had they not slogged through a brutal first quarter in which they turned the ball over on their first seven possessions, the Mavericks probably would have won. But, let’s get back to Wilke. He scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the second half and is leading the Mavericks with 16.1 points a game. A versatile player, Wilke also averages 2.4 assists and 8.8 rebounds, and the Mavericks expect his production to increase as he continues to find his way as a full-time starter.
Mead’s Nick Jacobs developing into a super sophomore
Mead has been one of the best teams in Colorado over the past several seasons, but with that success has come an exodus of significant talent via graduation. Enter Jacobs, a 6-foot-3 guard who could pair with Wilke to give the Mavericks the one-two punch they need to remain in the upper tier of 4A teams in the state. After a bit of a slow start, Jacobs has averaged 16.5 points in his last four games and is looking like a potential Division-II talent when it’s all said and done.
Hunter Shkapich’s stock is on the rise
Scoring 18 points in Valor Christian’s first game in 2018, the junior showed his ability to make big shots in the clutch. With the Mead Mavericks staging a comeback bid, he hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. At 6-feet tall and shooting 38 percent from behind the 3-point line, Shkapich is quickly becoming an intriguing college prospect.