Posted On: 01/8/18 7:13 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.
Basketball will be fun to watch in Pueblo this season. Pueblo County’s Bryson Benedict is scoriong 18.4 points a game, Pueblo Central’s Nico Martin is averaging a cool 15.0 and even three-win Pueblo Centennial currently has a 25-point scorer in junior transfer Antonio Rodriguez. But with the city of Pueblo boasting s number of the top 4A teams over the past several seasons and a couple early favorites already in 2017-18, Pueblo East (6-4), Pueblo South (9-2) and Pueblo West (9-2) are three of the most intriguing teams in the South Central League.
Pueblo East Eagles
Last year’s record: 10-14, 3-7 in South Central
Head coach: Mike Massaro
Players to watch: Darnell Kindred (So.), Connor Mattorano (Jr.), Kain Medrano (Jr.), Joe Padula (Jr.), Marcus Winston (Sr.)
At a school known primarily for winning a slew of football state titles in recent years, the Eagles are looking for an improved season on the basketball court. One of the final teams to crack the 4A playoff bracket last season, the Eagles are trying to build on that campaign with senior Marcus Winston leading the team at 14.0 points a game. Kyle Medrano and Joe Padula are also scoring double figures or close to it, and the Eagles are off to a good start after playing a number of 2017 playoff teams and up-and-coming clubs in the early part of their schedule.
What to expect from Pueblo East this year
The Eagles are long and athletic, and they’ll need to continue to use those attributes to their advantage as much as possible once they get into the meat of South Central League play. Many have said that Pueblo has the deepest talent pool when it comes to boys basketball this season and there isn’t a tougher area for a team trying to earn a spot at the table. Given their early success and remaining strength of schedule, expect the Eagles to enter the postseason seeded higher than last year’s 42nd.
Pueblo South Colts
Last year’s record: 20-7, 8-2 in South Central
Head coach: DJ Johnson
Players to watch: Tonay Aragon (Sr.), David Caporicci (Sr.), Jeremy Cody (Sr.), Marcell Barbee (Sr.), Lawrence Ramos (Sr.)
A Final Four team a year ago, the Colts entered the season as one of 4A’s title favorites and haven’t done anything to change any minds in that regard. Currently ranked third in their classification, the Colts’ two losses have come against then-No. 1 Golden when the Colts football team was still in the playoffs and now-No. 1 Lewis-Palmer, and the Colts have already beaten a number of last year’s Sweet 16 teams. Though they graduated last year’s scoring leader in Deshiloh Stanley, most of the Colts are returning starters and this year’s team looks like it could be as good as last year’s.
What to expect from Pueblo South this year
Plenty of highlight-reel material. With guys like Jeremy Cody, Marcell Barbee and Tonay Aragon leading the way, the Colts have a trio of solid college recruits on the floor nearly at all times and when these guys start feeding off each other, watch out. This team is also senior-heavy and strong up and down the lineup, so expect another impressive playoff run.
Pueblo West Cyclones
Last year’s record: 23-3, 9-1 in South Central
Head coach: Bobby Tyler
Players to watch: Brett Finegan (Jr), Zeb Jacquart (Sr.), Niemeye Smeyer-Williams (Sr.), Pierre Taylor (Sr.), Jacob Wilkenson (Sr.)
The Cyclones moved up to third in the latest CHSAANow.com poll and are, expectedly, off to a great start even without last year’s star player David Simental’s 25.8 points as a senior. Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams (16.9 ppg) has assumed the role of scoring leader this season, and Pierre Taylor (12.2) and Jacob Wilkenson (10.2) are having strong seasons. All signs point to another deep playoff run for the Cyclones in 2017-18.
What to expect from Pueblo West this year
At least two ultra-exciting games against Pueblo South. The Cyclones seemed destined for the Final Four last season but that dream was dashed by the Pueblo South Colts, who defeated them 64-62 in the Great 8. These two teams are both ranked in the top 10 and are early-season title favorites, and they will meet twice during league play. Plenty of prep hoops fans in Colorado have fingers crossed that the Cyclones and Colts also meet up in the postseason once again.