10 PLAYERS TO WATCH
PEYTON CARTER, Sr., Monarch: Grew into her own last year to average 15 points a game, and the Colorado commit will be a force in the Front Range League.
TAYLOR CHRISTIANSEN, Sr., Lyons: Her combination of size and speed makes her dangerous in the open floor and around the basket.
MCKAYLEY GREEN, Jr., Erie: Can be a real centerpiece-type player for the optimistic Tigers with her near double-double average.
CASEY GRIGGS, Sr., Holy Family: Takes over as the floor leader for Holy Family, a team that has earned respect at the 4A level.
JASMINE JEFFCOAT, Sr., Monarch: Coyotes coach Bill Bradley said the Missouri-Kansas City commit has worked her tail off ahead of her senior season.
BROOKE JONES, Sr., Centaurus: The Warriors want to see the same success as last year, and Jones provides steady scoring and tough defense.
ASHLEY PANEM, Jr., Fairview: A starter since she was a freshman, Panem is a smart player that has a great shooting touch.
DENALI PINTO, Jr., Fairview: The Knights have two players that can take the ball up the floor, and Pinto is willing to take chances without being reckless.
VANESSA ROMO, Sr., Legacy: A four-year varsity player, Romo is the leader of a team itching to get back to their traditional role of Front Range League contender.
ANNA VELTIEN, Jr., Mead: Projected to handle the ball even more in her second year starting after averaging 7.7 points and 5.8 boards a game last season.
The regular season for all classifications ends Feb. 18. The state tournament fields will be determined by the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) system. District tournaments for Classes 1A-3A will be completed by Feb. 25. Championship weekend is March 9-11 at four different locations (5A and 4A at the Denver Coliseum; 3A at Hamilton Gym, University of Denver; 2A at Budweiser Events Center; 1A at Butler-Hancock, University of Northern Colorado).
Coach: Sarah Clarke (fourth year).
Last year: 7-17 overall; 2-10 Class 5A Front Range League.
Returning starters: Sydney Arthur (Jr., 5-10, C); Marlee Burridge (Sr., 5-6, G); Bijou MacDonald (Sr., 5-10, FWD).
Others to watch: Emma Bagley (Fr., 5-10, FWD); Grace Chow (So., 5-6, PG); Kelly McCarty (Jr., 5-7, G).
Outlook: Clarke works hard to get the most out of her girls, and last year the Panthers improved drastically overall. Burridge can shoot the ball, but Boulder will have to find more than one consistent scorer to compete in the tough FRL. Depth could be favorable and the team will be expected to compete buzzer-to-buzzer.
Coach: Derek Seifried (second year).
Last year: 23-3 overall; 12-0 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Taylor Gilmore (Sr., 5-10, FWD).
Others to watch: Jenna Casasanta (Sr., 5-9, G); Abby Croell (Sr., 5-9, G); Steph Peterson (So., 5-9, G).
Outlook: One can always expect Broomfield to be competitive in its classification, and this year is no different despite the inexperience of the roster. Basketball intelligence is perhaps the Eagles' top asset entering the season, along with speed and the ability to disrupt on defense. Gilmore is a top-notch athlete, and Croell and Casasanta played key minutes off the bench last year.
Coach: Chris Mischke (first year).
Last year: 20-4 overall; 11-3 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Helen Gover (So., 5-6, G); Brooke Jones (Sr., 5-9, G/F); Morgan Negrey (So., 5-8, FWD).
Others to watch: Haley Anderson (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Brooke Calvo (So., 5-9, G); Rachel Koeller (So., 5-3, G); Imani Licata (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Riley Negrey (Fr., 5-9, G); Faith West (So., 5-9, FWD).
Outlook: The Warriors are looking to follow up on a successful season with depth, and they'll challenge themselves in the preseason with games against Evergreen and D'Evelyn, among others. Jones is a tough cookie, and Mischke said Riley Negrey could contribute right away. Centaurus should be a factor in the Northern.
Coach: Jess Mitchell (sixth year).
Last year: 7-13 overall; 2-9 Class 3A/2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Amelia Boone (Jr., 5-7, G); Kate Gallop (So., 5-11, FWD); Victoria Rackley (Sr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Kaitlyn Day (Fr., 5-6, PG); Madison Day (Fr., 5-6, G); Nicole McDonald (Sr., 5-6, G).
Outlook: Mitchell is working with her largest ever group of girls, which may help the team be able to play faster through 32 minutes. After averaging just 30 points a game in 2015-16, it is obvious that finding more scoring opportunities is a top priority for the Mustangs. Gallop's development in the post could pay huge dividends over the coming years.
Coach: Liz Russell (first year).
Last year: 10-13 overall; 5-9 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Darby Berringer (Sr., 5-9, PG); Amanda Farineau (Sr., 5-9, FWD/C); McKayley Green (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Jade Phillips (Jr., 5-8, G).
Others to watch: Anna Giampietro (So., 5-9, G/F); Katie Huonder (Jr., 5-9, G).
Outlook: The Tigers appear to be a team on the rise, and Russell comes over from Centaurus and will try and bring that up-tempo style that helped the Warriors to success last year. Green is as solid as they come in the TVL, and the rest of the starters should have more fluidity on both sides of the court. A top-two finish in league is not out of the question.
Coach: Rod Beauchamp (17h year).
Last year: 16-10 overall; 8-4 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Grace O'Neill (Sr., 5-11, FWD); Ashley Panem (Jr., 5-8, G); Denali Pinto (Jr., 5-10, G).
Others to watch: Lena Haddad (Sr., 5-8, FWD); Kate Lampert (So., 5-10, FWD); Izzy Munson (Fr., 5-8, G); Emma Prostko (Sr., 5-8, FWD); Sydney Rios (Sr., 5-9, FWD); Kelsey Webster (Jr., 5-9, FWD).
Outlook: Fairview has made a couple of good playoff runs lately, and the Knights have a trio of players in Pinto, Panem and O'Neill that could be tough for anyone to shut down completely. Most of the remainder of the roster is varsity fresh, but Beauchamp will trust a tight rotation of around nine to compete in the FRL. They will again host the Fairview Festival with the boys team, a gem of a tournament that runs from Dec. 5-10.
Coach: Brett Andersen (first year).
Last year: 9-14 overall; 4-10 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Aspen Dufour (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Mylie Tarnowski (Jr., 5-7, G).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: Andersen comes from California and he was still getting acquainted with his team as of press time, but the coach is excited about the varsity experience the roster holds overall. Aspen Dufour averaged almost a double-double to go along with 2.3 blocks a game, and Tarnowski contributed eight points and 2.3 steals a game, giving the Warriors a nice foundation. The Warriors could surprise a lot of people, even with no seniors on the roster.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Ron Rossi (14th year).
Last year: 20-7 overall; 13-1 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Sydney Alderfer (Sr., 6-0, C); Casey Griggs (Sr., 5-6, G); Issy Hren (5-9, Jr., PG); Leah Schwartz (Sr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Paige Giltner (Jr., 5-8, G); Kaitlyn Mackenzie (So., 5-4, G); Sydney Pittinger (Jr., 6-0, C); Bella Sandoval (Sr., 5-8, FWD); Bree Torres (Jr., 5-8, FWD); Amanda Ward (So., 5-9, FWD); Ashley Ward (So., 5-8, FWD).
Outlook: Without a Chavez sister suiting up for the first time in a long, long time, Holy Family will still rely on defense to create offense and they have the experience to maintain that reputation. The team returns three players that averaged at least seven points a game, and Hren is a do-it-all player who could have a breakout season. Safe to say, the Tigers are looking beyond just a league title.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Crystal Deichert (third year).
Last year: 11-12 overall; 5-4 Class 3A Metro League.
Returning starters: Kristi Nagai (Sr., G); KelliAnn Raff (Sr., G/F); Kaitlyn Thimsen (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Ellie Hausmann (So., G); Laura Riley (Fr., F/C).
Outlook: The Jaguars worked hard to get in the 32-team 3A bracket last year with just two seniors, so Deichert has a ton to work with and she hopes to be able to vary the lineup often. The three returning starters proved defensively sound last year, and Riley adds some height.
Coach: Craig Van Patten (seventh year).
Last year: 3-20 overall; 2-10 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Katelyn Pedersen (Sr., 5-9, FWD); Vanessa Romo (Sr., 5-8, G).
Others to watch: Kaylea Beck (Jr., G); Anya Carlson (Jr., FWD); Alyssa Kenson (Sr., 5-8, G); Halle Mackiewicz (Fr., FWD); Isa Valenzuela (So., FWD); Olivia Zamora (Jr., G).
Outlook: No one would expect the kind of season the Lightning had last year, but it was a perfect storm of things that led to just three wins. The group should be on the upswing this year, especially with Romo creating havoc defensively. Van Patten said he wants to continue playing up-tempo to take advantage of fast breaks.
Coach: Mike Knaus (fifth year).
Last year: 22-2 overall; 14-0 Northern League.
Returning starters: Emma Carney (Jr., 6-0, C); Sarah Nichols (Sr., 5-5, PG); Kennedy Sheetz (Jr., 5-9, FWD).
Others to watch: Riley Bolte (Jr., 5-4, G); Eva D'Epagnier (Jr., 5-9, FWD); Sydney Fixmer (Jr., 5-8, G); Jenna Moore (Jr., 5-9, FWD); Annika Wetterstrom (So., 5-9, FWD); Sam Wiley (Jr., 5-7, G).
Outlook: The Trojans came up short in the first round of the playoffs after running the table in league, and the returning players definitely have a chip on their shoulders entering the season. Nichols is the lone senior on the team and will be asked to lead by example, while the team will count on solid passing ability to swing the ball to open players. They open up against Rocky Mountain, a daunting challenge to start the year.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Zach Echols and Marianne Clausen (first year).
Last year: 11-12 overall; 3-8 Class 3A/2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Abbey Moore-Kneipp (Sr., 6-0, FWD).
Others to watch: Grace Gunlikson (Sr., 5-5, G); Maddie Lehnherr (Jr., 6-0, FWD).
Outlook: The Warriors don't have the depth that a lot of the teams in the league do, but they are athletic and will rely on discipline for success. Moore-Kneipp is a scoring type and will be leaned on, while Lehnherr is coming off knee surgery and hopes to be strong in her role. Whitney Echols is a transfer from Mead who will help the team down the stretch.
Coach: Jason Maguire (second year).
Last year: 15-8 overall; 8-3 Class 3A/2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Taylor Christiansen (Sr., 5-11, G/F); Madison Johnson (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Liz Jonjak (Sr., 5-4, G); Ixchel Leeuwenburgh (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Maddi Maguire (Sr., 5-4, G).
Others to watch: Amanda Dillon (Jr., 5-5, G); Sara Hall (Jr., 5-9, F/G); Jackie Hiebert (Jr., 5-10, FWD); Hope Kincaid (So., 5-6, G); Kylee Udovich (So., 5-5, G); Adele Walker (Jr., 5-11, FWD).
Outlook: If the Lions can stay healthy, there is no reason to think they can't improve on last year's 15 wins. There wasn't a senior on the roster in 2015-16 and the chemistry should be apparent at the outset. Christiansen is one of 2A's top talents and expectations are she'll have a fine senior campaign.
Coach: Vern Rathbun (first year).
Last year: 10-13 overall; 5-9 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Bella Brown (Sr., 5-9, FWD); Nicole Hamann (Sr., 5-8, FWD); Kayla Stephenson (Sr., 5-10, FWD); Anna Veltien (Jr., 5-10, G/F).
Others to watch: Abby Cowley (Sr., 5-6, G); Abbey Glynn (So., 5-10, F/C); Alanna Hernandez (Jr., 5-1, PG); Kelsey Jacquet (Sr., 5-9, F); Cami Kamigaki (Sr., 5-9, G); Jada Levine (Jr., 5-8, FWD).
Outlook: Rathbun has coached in the area for years but came out of 'retirement' with the incentive of having a good young group of girls to work with. The Mavericks were balanced in scoring last year with Veltien slightly ahead of everyone else, and Rathbun said the team has both size and speed and will play intensely on defense to create offense. Team discipline is what he hopes comes along the most.
Coach: Bill Bradley (second year).
Last year: 14-11 overall; 7-5 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Peyton Carter (Sr., 5-8, G); Emerson Herrmann (So., 6-1, C); Jasmine Jeffcoat (Sr., 6-2, FWD); Lily Morgan (So., 5-10, G/F); Nicole Reading (So., 5-7, G/F).
Others to watch: Elizabeth Deitsch (Fr., 5-4, PG); Cadence That (Fr., 5-4, G).
Outlook: With two Division I recruits in Carter and Jeffcoat, the potential is huge for the Coyotes in Bradley's second season. There are expectations for those two to understand they are the playmakers and need to be wise out on the floor, but Bradley is certainly confident in them. Experience among the sophomores should pay off, particularly in the case of Herrmann in the middle.
Coach: Simone Smead (first year).
Last year: Did not field a team.
Players to watch: Avy Henriksen (So., 5-9, FWD); Lily Lindstrom (Fr., 5-4, PG); Breegan McClish (So., 5-9, FWD); Karen Sorokach (Jr., 5-11, C); Linnaea Thibedeau (Jr., 5-11, FWD).
Outlook: The Panthers will be pretty raw to begin the year, but Smead said there is a lot of excitement to get back to a heavy game schedule and compete. Lindstrom is described as a strong ball-handler, and Sorokach is quite versatile. Creating a fun environment that will keep the girls in the program is the ultimate goal for Smead.
Coach: Terri Ward (fourth year).
Last year: 13-10 overall; 5-9 Northern League.
Returning starters: YY Chen (Sr., PG); Mary Gillett (Jr., G/F); Sophie Grant (Jr., G/F); Alli Mercier (Jr., PG); Rosie Setter (Jr., FWD).
Others to watch: Allie Colvin (Jr., FWD); Zoe Gonzales (So., P); Jamie Lee (Jr., G); Meah Ricardiello (Sr., FWD).
Outlook: Niwot started last season 6-0 and continued to play tough through their league schedule, and many of those girls return battle tested. Grant is a threat to drive to the hoop at any time, and Gillett and Chen can both hit open shots consistently. Gonzales will be an even bigger presence inside this season, especially defensively.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Dan Seidman (second year).
Last year: 3-17 overall; 2-7 Class 3A Metro League.
Returning starters: Kenna Hazzard (Sr., 5-7, PG); Rachel Thomas (Jr., 5-8, G).
Others to watch: Molly Higdon (Sr., 5-8, FWD); Lindsay Hudson (So., 5-6, G); Mara Miller (Jr., 5-7, G); Robin Peterson (Jr., 5-7, G).
Outlook: The Pumas return three of their leading scorers, with Thomas' 10.2 point-per-game average heading the squad. Collectively, fighting for rebounds and steals will be crucial to their success as they try and get back to .500 or better. Hudson is an excellent soccer player who can get up and down the court, too.
PROSPECT RIDGE MINERS
Coach: Sara O'Flannigan (first year).
Last year: This will be Prospect Ridge's first varsity season.
Players to watch: Zoe Frederick (Jr., 5-7, FWD); Brittany Gioso (So., 5-8, FWD); Alex Weber (So., 5-4, PG).
Outlook: O'Flannigan has been leading the PRA girls program for the past two years, and last year they were 13-5 in a non-sanctioned schedule. They have high goals of competing in the Metro League immediately, and the girls are motivated with the kind of chemistry they'll have right away. The team will have to deal with Molly O'Flannigan's season ending injury, but the girls will rely on defense first to compete against much older players.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes (sixth year).
Last year: 8-11 overall; 3-4 Class 2A/1A 5280 League.
Returning starters: Ella Baca (Sr., 5-5, G); Erin Ellinwood (Sr., 5-6, FWD); Meishan Wright (Sr., 5-7, G).
Others to watch: Cami Clark (Fr., 5-11, FWD); Sophie Fairmont (Jr., 5-3, G); Amrita Shore (So., 5-6, G).
Outlook: Thirteen girls on the roster is itself an accomplishment for the smallest school in the area, and Hawkes always has the Lions in a position to be successful. There were a lot of seniors that accounted for most of last year's scoring, but Wright scored about 6.5 points and added a rebounding/shot-blocking aspect that will be good to have around. The Lions get after it on defense.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Dan Kloster (13th year).
Last year: 12-12 overall; 9-5 Northern League.
Returning starters: Violet Kennedy (Sr., 6-2, FWD); Kayla Noble (Sr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Liz Salmeron (Jr., FWD); Caitlin Volkmann (Fr., FWD).
Outlook: The Raptors have the pedigree of a team that will finish in the top half of the Northern League consistently, and it's going to be up to a pretty new crop of girls to keep to those high standards. Kennedy works well in the post and Noble is strong outside, and if Volkmann comes on anything like she did in volleyball then Silver Creek will be in good shape.
Coach: Gerald Macon (second year).
Last year: 8-15 overall; 4-10 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Kylie Earhart (Jr., 6-0, FWD); Bailey Emanuel (Jr., 5-5, G); Bella Garcia (Sr., 5-7, G).
Others to watch: Johanna Aguilar (Sr., 5-6, G); Aly McKrola (Fr., 5-7, FWD); Ashyla Powers (Fr., 5-7, F); Lindrey Schindel (Fr., 5-8, FWD); Vanessa Villareal (Sr., 5-7, FWD).
Outlook: The Falcons won three of four games to finish off last season on a high note, and Macon said he thinks the girls can feed off that. There is a new leadership group and overall the team appears to be more athletic, and the Falcons could be a lot more successful if they rebound better. Villareal could be a big factor in her senior season after averaging six points a game last year.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Alycia Burns (third year).
Last year: 4-16 overall; 0-10 Class 3A/2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Katherine Louwers (Jr., 5-6, G/F); Hannah Schauer (Jr., 5-7, G/F).
Others to watch: Abby Guildner (Jr., 5-6, G/F); Natalie Schauer (Fr., 5-8, F); Mackenzie Stevenson (Sr., 5-0, G).
Outlook: The Timberwolves have a team of girls dedicated to a lot of different talents, and on the court the goal is to continue to grow the program in a very tough league. If they can rebound on both ends of the floor, they should be able to find some scoring opportunities behind Schauer and Louwers leading things.
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