Posted On: 02/20/18 9:37 PM

Before the season started I stated that this year was a year that was wide open as no team stood head and shoulders above the rest. Well, with no undefeated teams, close league play battles and surprise league champions it’s safe to say that this is one of the most wide-open state tournaments we have in quite some time—I can’t wait! As a result, we’ll be taking a look at each region as who we believe will win it and who else might surprise us.

Richard Tate Region:

Who is in it:

Thunder ridge, Greeley West, Brighton, Broomfield, Fruita Monument, Prairie View, Doherty, Arvada West, Poudre, Highlands Ranch, Cherry Creek, Horizon

Key Game in the First Round with a prediction:

Poudre vs. Arvada West

No. 26 seeded Arvada West welcomes in No.39 seeded Poudre in what should be an interesting game as long as Damian Forrest for Poudre has himself a monster game. At 14.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and a whopping 3.7 blocks per game, it’s easy to see the type of impact he has on the game. He leads his team in almost every major category and will have to bring his best if his team plans on beating a stingy Arvada West squad led by Josh Rogers at 17.3 points per game and Zander Lynch at 6.7 rebounds a game. Arvada West will have the advantage and with James Pelon and Isaiah Brewer also playing some of their best basketball as of late, it’ll be too tough to beat this team for Poudre. Now if they can keep this type of play up heading to Doherty after is where things get interesting and is a game that’ll set up as a must watch for Round 2.

Who will win it?

Thunder Ridge. This is as complete a team that we have in the state and one of the top coaches in the state so we know they’ll be prepared and already have the edge on teams. Senior guard Kaison Hammonds has been on a tear and has been leading his team night in and night out. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game and has Thunder Ridge at a 5A best 22-1 record on the year. Alongside him has been Tyson Cruickshank and Austin Holt who have also been having strong seasons. This inside-out attack that Grizzlies have will make it hard on any team standing in their way and taking a look at this region, they should be the team that comes out on top.

Surprise team:

While Highlands Ranch is a team that everyone must keep their eyes on, Doherty is having themselves a very good season as well and is my pick for the team that can surprise a team or two. They’re the 7th seeded team and will be waiting for the winner of the Arvada West versus Poudre game. After that, they could potentially meet up with Highlands Ranch for a trip to the Sweet 16. They’re 19-4 on the season as they went a perfect 12-0 in league play and they’re currently riding a three-game winning streak that includes a blow out against a pretty good team in Rampart. As long as Kyrele Benford, Alijah Bates and Joe Golden are playing good basketball they’ll be able to compete with any team in the state.

Key players to watch for out of this region:

Kaison Hammonds, Austin Holt, Josh Rogers, Kyrele Benford, Joe Golden, Kam Vincel, Daren Davison, Brendan Sullivan, Dimitri Stanley, Darius Price, Alijah Bates