Just three teams from the BoCoPreps.com coverage area remain alive in the state basketball playoffs and not a one is a stranger to the final rounds of the postseason brackets.
The Longmont boys, Holy Family girls and Shining Mountain boys all have experienced incredible success in the past decade. Each of the three remaining teams, however, faces a challenge this week if it wants to advance.
For the top-seeded Longmont boys, who last won a state title in 1942 and came up one win short in 2015, it's all about getting back to the championship game while the window is still open. That means beating No. 1 seed Valor Christian (24-2) in the 4A Final 4 on Friday night.
"It's always a goal for every program to get to the Final 4 so you have a chance, an opportunity," Longmont head coach Jeff Kloster said. "We spoke on that as a team for the entire year. We're going back to CU and that's the opportunity we've been playing for all year. Now, it's what we do with it that matters. Practice all week is important and execution will be key but, bottom line, all four teams are really good and got there for a reason and it's going to come down to who will do the little things needed to win."
When Longmont (25-1) and Valor Christian tip off at Coors Events Center at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, it will be a contest of similarly athletic teams that and rely on defense to kick start their offenses. It will also be a rematch of last season's 4A Great 8, a game in which Longmont's Kolton Bachman made a late basket to give his team a 47-46 victory.
"All those teams that we've faced so far, D'Evelyn, Mead are great at the defensive end, are athletic and challenge you," Kloster said. "Now we'll face a team that's a little bigger, which will present some new challenges and force us to attack a little differently offensively. It's a bit of a familiar opponent and we're expecting a great game."
At 5:30 p.m. at the Coors Events Center on Thursday night, the Holy Family girls will also face No. 1 seed Valor Christian in the 4A Final 4. Valor Christian (25-1) eliminated Holy Family (20-6) in the Great 8 on its way to winning the 4A title last season.
Though Thursday's game will be Holy Family's first in the 4A Final 4, the Tigers have plenty of big-game experience to fall back on. Before reaching the 4A Great 8 last season, the Tigers won six of seven Class 3A state titles from 2008 to 2014.
"What a nice challenge," Tigers head coach Ron Rossi said. "Facing Pueblo South, which was the hottest team at the time, was a great challenge too. Valor plays a different style of basketball than we do but we'll be prepared and we'll see which team can enforce its will. Anything can happen and they knocked us out last year so we're excited for a chance to return the favor."
For the Shining Mountain boys, who reached the 1A state title game in 2013, are looking to make a similar run after sitting out the two state tournaments since. Seeded fourth, the Lions (21-2) will face fifth-seeded Kit Carson (18-5) in the first round at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.