Posted On: 03/22/18 12:00 PM
Now that the season has come to an end we can take a look back at a few teams that stood out and had surprise seasons. With seniors graduating, coaching changes, transfers or just underclassmen stepping up, there were a few teams that stood out, here are my top three.
With 5A player of the year, Colbey Ross, graduating and continuing his playing career at Pepperdine, many thought that Eaglecrest would be a team that wouldn’t have enough to compete in arguably the toughest league in the state. Add in the fact that they also were without their head coach from their championship team in Coach Olander as he retired and the Raptors to very well be a rebuilding team. Somehow, the players on the team didn’t get the memo as the young bunch took a bit of time, but, found their identity and got it going, they even played the No. 1 team in the state down to the wore and people quickly noticed that new head Coach Krapcha inspired this team and put them in a position to win. With players like returning point guard Xaiv’ion Jackson who serves as the team’s leader on and off the court and is battle tested in a tough Centennial league back to run the show in his senior season and scoring machine Branden Bunn, who was easily one of the most entertaining players in the state at 13.7 points, 1.4 assist and 3.8 rebounds a game, excelling with his crafty ball handling and his quick release jumper, it became easy to see why they were such a strong team. With their strong play, Eaglecrest immediately became a team that most teams weren’t looking forward to playing and despite their 14-11 record on the season, with seven of those losses coming to teams that competed in the Great 8, they ended their first year under Coach Krapcha with a thrilling 65-64 loss to Rock Canyon in the 2nd round. This is a team that will lose a bit more this year, but, with their coach at the helm putting them in situations to win and a buy-in from the younger players on the team, it’ll be a team that competes each night.
After last season disappointing lost in the Great 8 to Rock Canyon on a last second tip in that made Sports Center and had debate about if the basket should’ve counter or not, Coach Rogers unit came out this year with vengeance. The Wolves were on a mission heading into season to not only get back to that point, but, take home the gold ball. Many had them having a relatively well season, but, not many expected them to go 11-3 in the toughest league in the state and 24-4 overall with only two in-state losses. One thing that made Grandview a tough team to guard was their depth and balance. Although junior Dayne Prim was their best player, they had seven players average more than five points a game and they all were on the same page defensively. With Prim down the middle and Ben Boone and Tyler Unger on the wing, they had their knock down shooters, Davon Walker ran the team as well as he could and they had a solid bench of contributors that knew their role. Grandview entered the state tournament as the sixth seed in a year that eight or nine different teams had a legitimate chance to win it, but Grandview prevailed with their balance, pace and willingness to make the extra pass. To cultivate such an impressive year, Coach Rogers got the opportunity to face off against his former school in which he coached for, George Washington in the championship game and escaped with a 57-52 win to become this year’s state champs. Incredible year from Grandview, but the best part is – they truly have the chance to win it in back-to-back years. Next year will be another impressive year as almost everyone returns.
Their coach for the past two years was Coach Krapcha, who now coaches at Eaglecrest. His departure left coach Steinert having to figure out what to do with all of his new pieces, but he got it done in his first season. Doherty has been an excellent Colorado Springs team that competes each game. They’re now becoming regulars to return to the Denver Coliseum and a team that learned on the fly as they had to make continuous adjustments. One of the things that the Spartans will certainly have to do is start winning in the post season if they want to be taken seriously. They have solid play all year, yet lose when it matters and must get over that hump. They went a perfect 12-0 in league play and showed that they’re one of the top teams in the state. The Spartans separated themselves due to having one of the best front-courts in the state with players like Kyrele Benford and Alijah Bates, but it was Joe Golden that embodied all of the attributes you want out of a player. Heart, grit and hustle and although they lose him to graduation, I’m sure they hope those traits became contagious. They lost on a game winning layup by Bailey Verk of Thunderridge, a team they were blown out by earlier in the season, but the Spartans showed some fight and showcased why they’re a team you’ll have to take serious for years to come.