Posted On: 01/11/18 4:02 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.
When looking at the 4A Jefferson County League, let’s first acknowledge how many top-tier individual players are playing in the conference this season. Here are the top 10 scorers in the league midway through the season: Golden’s Adam Thistlewood (22.8 ppg), Standley Lake’s Garrett Martin (19.8), D’Evelyn’s Charles Dinegar (19.8), Green Mountain’s Alex Telles (18.5), Wheat Ridge’s Naishon Thomas (18.5), Littleton’s Justin Cutter (16.9), Evergreen’s Chase Rogers (16.8), Evergreen’s Bridger Tenney (16.6), Valor Christian’s Jeremy Randle (16.4) and Littleton’s Jason Levy (15.9).
In terms of the three most intriguing teams in the conference, let’s take a look at a trio of front-runners as league play heats up. Those three teams are Evergreen (10-2), Golden (9-3) and Valor Christian (6-6).
Last year’s record: 20-6, 11-3 in Jefferson County
Head coach: Scott Haebe
Players to watch: Andrew Aafedt (Sr.), Josh Fox (Sr.), Jack Patterson (Sr.), Chase Rogers (Sr.), Bridger Tenney (Sr.)
Seniors Chase Rogers and Bridger Tenney, the team’s leaders in scoring, assists and steals, are an entertaining duo to watch. Those two leading a strong core of seniors that drives this team has led the Cougars to 10 wins already in 2017-18 and the only blemishes on their record so far are a loss to No. 2 Silver Creek and a scrappy Elizabeth team. One of four Jeffco teams that won 19 or more games last winter, and one of four Jeffco teams to reach the Great 8, the Cougars appear to be on track to do so again this season.
What to expect from Evergreen this year
A veteran club that will be tough to beat. This year’s team has six seniors on the roster and that experience has shown through its first dozen games. Also, expect the Cougars to give their best shot to Golden, the conference rival that ended their season in the 4A Great 8 last season. One of the two league contests between the two clubs will be the season finale on Feb. 15.
Last year’s record: 19-8, 8-6 in Jefferson County
Head coach: Erik Buehler
Players to watch: Joe Madsen (Sr.), Jack Mcglaughlin (Sr.), Jack Moore (Sr.), Colin Mulligan (Sr.), Adam Thistlewood (Sr.)
Drake University-bound senior Adam Thistlewood is leading the league in scoring and is one of the biggest game-changers in the state at 6-foot-7 with guard skills. Joe Madsen gives the Demons a tough presence inside and Jack Moore remains one of the better under-the-radar players in 4A. This team opened the season ranked No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com poll and for good reason, as the Demons have all the pieces they need to compete for a state title.
What to expect from Golden this year
As mentioned before in the Evergreen preview, expect the Demons to get everyone’s best shot this season after coming in as the early favorite in 4A. Though they have since dropped to No. 4 in the rankings, the Demons have already defeated several of Colorado’s top 10-ranked 4A teams and played some tough competition out of state. There’s a very high likelihood that this team is still playing well into March this season.
Valor Christian Eagles
Last year’s record: 24-4, 13-1 in Jefferson County
Head coach: Troy Pachner
Players to watch: Jack Foley (Jr.), Jeremy Randle (Sr.), Roger Rosengarten (So.), Hunter Shkapich (Jr.), Brandon Smith (Sr.)
The 2016-17 league and state champs are doing their best to make up for the graduation of last year’s star Jalen Sanders, who is now at the University of Northern Colorado. While Sanders’ absence has been felt, so far, that hasn’t proven as difficult as many expected. The Eagles have already faced some top-notch in-state competition and took some lumps out at the Tarkanian Classic, and have emerged as already a better team than when they began the season.
What to expect from Valor Christian this year
First and foremost, mark your calendars for the Eagles’ second league game against Golden on Feb. 2. On Wednesday, the Eagles won 56-53 over Golden, which was a rematch of last year’s Final Four. After two straight losses to the Eagles, the Demons will be hungrier than ever for revenge that game could go a long way towards deciding the Jeffco champion. Also, expect breakout seasons from senior Jeremy Randle and junior Hunter Shkapich while the Eagles attempt to put together yet another deep postseason run.