David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
PLAYERS TO KNOW
JORDAN CARTER, SR., SILVER CREEK — A gifted player that won’t just stand around the basket and wait for opportunities; she’ll create her own.
BRENNA CHASE, SR., BROOMFIELD — Chase was a first-team All-Colorado selection by the Denver Post last year. Enough said.
KATIE CHAVEZ, SR., HOLY FAMILY — Chavez runs the offense for the Tigers but might be one of the state’s best defenders, too.
TAYLOR CHRISTIANSEN, JR., LYONS — The small school has a big presence in Christiansen, who averaged a double-double last year.
BRENNA FANKELL, SR., BROOMFIELD — The unheralded star of last year’s title team, Fankell will return soon from an ACL injury and should dominate below the basket.
MADI GAIBLER, SR., LONGMONT — The Trojans do not get to the Final Four without Gaibler’s all-around game last year, and she’ll be strong again as a senior.
McKAYLEY GREEN, SO., ERIE — After four double-doubles over the last half of the year, Green will look to pick up right where she left off.
JASMINE JEFFCOAT, JR., MONARCH — A different position on the floor could expand Jeffcoat’s dribble-penetration game, but she’ll be force regardless.
ALYSSA JENKINS, SR., NIWOT — Returns as a double-double threat this year for the Cougars.
GRACE O’NEILL, JR., FAIRVIEW — A strong rebounder from her guard position, O’Neill could be heavily relied upon to lead the Knights.
PEYTON CARTER, JR., MONARCH — Had some nice games at the end of the season for the Coyotes run at the title, and she’ll be looked to even more.
SYDNEY WETTERSTROM, SR., LONGMONT — The senior will give the Trojans 18 and 10, and about two of everything else. Simply dynamic.
The regular season for all classifications ends February 20. Class 4A and 5A playoff brackets will be established on February 21, while districts for 1A-3A must be completed by February 27.
The state tournaments for all classifications run March 10-12 at various locations.
Coach: Sara Clarke (third year).
Last year: 3-20 overall; 1-11 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Grace Garza (Sr., 5-9, G); Bijou MacDonald (Jr., 6-0, F); Marlee Burridge (Jr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Sydney Arthur (So., 5-11, F/C); Claire Boyle (Jr., 5-10, F); Ally Murphy Pauletto (Sr., 5-5, PG); Odelia Ryan (Sr., 5-7, F).
Outlook: The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs in three years, and that is where the goals begin for this team led in many statistical categories by Garza. Pauletto returns to BHS after moving away for a year, and Clarke is hoping she can help push a run-and-gun tempo for the Panthers.
Coach: Derek Seifried (first year).
Last year: 26-2 overall; 12-0 Front Range League (won 5A championship)
Returning starters: Brenna Chase (Sr., 5-8, PG); Brenna Fankell (Sr., 6-0, F); Maddie Kern (Sr., 5-10, Wing).
Others to watch: Delaynie Byrne (So., 6-2, G/F); Jenna Casasanta (Jr., 5-8, Wing); Abby Croell (Jr., 5-10, Wing); Taylor Gilmore (Jr., 5-11, F).
Outlook: The Eagles will continue to have a great inside-outside game, but an injury to Fankell will keep her out until January and Croell is also a little banged up. Seifried, taking over for the legendary Mike Croell, will continue building Broomfield into a pressure team forcing mistakes.
Coach: Liz Hoelzer (third year).
Last year: 6-17 overall; 2-12 Class 4A Northern League
Outlook: The Warriors are stuck in one of the toughest leagues in 4A, but have seen success in the recent past. Centaurus only had three seniors last year, which should translate to having a group of girls read to feed off each other in 2015-16.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Jessica Mitchell (fifth year).
Last year: 6-14 overall; 3-8 Mile High League
Returning starters: Sophie Brussel (Sr., 5-6, G); Lindsey Gallop (Sr., 6-0, F).
Others to watch: Jetta Nannen (Fr., 5-8, PG).
Outlook: A team that graduated most of its offense, the Mustangs are hoping to blossom as the year progresses and the players get to know themselves and what they are best at. Mitchell said really good things are in store for Gallop this year, and Dawson will be at its best when it plays in the open floor.
Coach: Bill Giampietro (second year).
Last year: 9-14 overall; 1-13 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Darby Berringer (Jr., 5-8, PG); Amanda Farineau (Jr., 5-8, F); McKayley Green (So., 5-9, F/C); Amberlynn Purcell (Sr., 5-5, G); Annika Turner (Jr., 5-8, F).
Others to watch: Katie Hounder (So., 5-8, F); Jade Phillips (So., 5-7, G/F); Autymn Purcell (So., 5-7, G).
Outlook: Giampietro’s mantra for the season is the Tigers will not be outworked by any opponent, and part of that attitude comes from losing too many close games last year. Amberlynn Purcell’s return to the court will pay immediate dividends as the lone senior, and the team has a group of freshmen that will contribute.
Coach: Rod Beauchamp (16th year).
Last year: 16-11 overall; 7-5 Front Range League
Returning starters: Grace O’Neill (Jr., 5-11, F); Ashley Panem (So., 5-7, G); Denali Pinto (So., 5-8, G); Tati Sobolik (Sr., 5-4, G); Logan Tidstrom (Sr., 5-8, G).
Others to watch: Sarah Gordon (Sr., 5-6, G); Meadbh Koenigsberg (Sr., 6-0, F); Annie Kuosman (Sr., 5-9, G); Kate O’Neill (Sr., 5-5, G); Sruthi Raguveer (Sr., 6-0, F); Lailah Safi (Sr., 5-6, G); Kelsey Webster (Jr., 5-9, F).
Outlook: The Knights had some young players develop confidence early, and that carried out all the way to the Great 8. An exceptional void needs to be filled with the graduation of Annika Lai, but the Knights have lots of experience overall. Rebounding will be key.
FAITH BAPTIST PIONEERS
Coach: Jim Stadler (fourth year).
Returning starters: Jasmine Biesanz (Sr., 5-11, C); Libby Knott (So., 5-2, G); Breeze Smith (So., 5-0, G); Cheyenne Wisenborn (Sr., 5-6, PG to F);
Others to watch: Megan Langridge (Fr., 5-6, F); Emily Skaw (5-5, Fr. F); Chloe Wisenborn (Fr., 5-1, G).
Outlook: The Pioneers will be diving into CHSAA sanctioned competition this year, but Stadler said it won’t be a huge shake-up as they do play a lot of the 1A teams annually. Interestingly, Langridge was able to play with the varsity as an 8th-grader, adding to the team’s experience. Biesanz will rebound and score well, and speed and scrappiness defines the team overall.
Coach: Sean Boyer (second year).
Last year: 5-18 overall; 3-11 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Aspen Dufour (So., 5-9, C); Jamie Lee (So., 5-4, PG); Nikayta Neu (Jr., 5-8, G); Mylie Tarnowski (So., 5-7, G).
Others to watch: Shea Chavez (Fr., 5-9, G/F); Tori Dufour (Fr., 5-2, PG); Sydney Lehman (Jr., 6-1, F). Cadence Neu (Fr., 5-7, G).
Outlook: The Warriors got in a ton of games this summer hoping to get on the same page and be ahead of the curve come Dec. 1, and Boyer said he likes the shooting capabilities of this squad as a whole. Tarnowski is regarded highly just as a sophomore, and there aren’t any seniors.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Ron Rossi (13th year).
Last year: 21-5 overall; 14-0 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Katie Chavez (Sr., 5-7, G); Casey Griggs (Jr., 5-4, G); Leah Schwartz (Jr, 5-5, G).
Others to watch: Sydney Alderfer (Jr., 6-0, F); Isabelle Hren (So., 5-7, G); Bre Torres (So., 5-9, F).
Outlook: Rossi is looking forward to having a team that shoots the ball well, and Chavez is truly a special talent who works hard at her craft. The Tigers’ schedule is bolstered by a tournament at ThunderRidge, and they’ll also face Broomfield, D’Evelyn, Pueblo East and Longmont.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Crystal Deichert (second year).
Last year: 14-9 overall; 6-3 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Kristi Nagai (Jr., 5-1, PG).
Others to watch: Kassidy Hastings (Sr., 5-6, G); KelliAnn Raff (Jr., 5-6, F); Rebekkah Withouse (Sr., 5-7, F).
Outlook: There is a lot of motivation to surpass goals for the Jaguars, but there is also a lot development to be had with just one returning starter as the team competes in the Metro League. Nagai will push the tempo, and Deichert said Raff is a great overall presence on the court.
Coach: Craig Van Patten (sixth year).
Last year: 14-10 overall; 9-3 Front Range League
Outlook: Legacy has always found a way to compete, but the Lightning will have to find a way to replace Courtney Smith and Bri Paulson — two players that accounted for 75 percent of the team’s scoring last season.
Coach: Mike Knaus (fourth year).
Last year: 20-7 overall; 11-3 Northern League
Returning starters: Madi Gaibler (Sr., 5-9, G/F); Sarah Nichols (Jr., 5-6, G); Kennedy Sheetz (So., 5-9, F); Sydney Wetterstrom (Sr., 6-1, C).
Others to watch: Emma Carney (So., 6-0, C); Sydney Fixmer (So., 5-8, G); Shannon Kindelspire (Jr., 5-8, F); Sam Larson (Sr., 5-8, F); Hali Walters (Sr., 5-11, F); Sam Wiley (So., 5-6, G).
Outlook: The competitive juices are flowing for the Trojans after another successful volleyball season and last year’s Final Four appearance in basketball, and with a force like Wetterstrom leading the way Longmont will be tough. Fizmer and Walters have starts under their belts, and Knaus is excited about the depth. Gaibler is an outstanding all-around player.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Dave Stoecker (fifth year).
Last year: 7-12 overall; 4-7 Mile High League
Returning starters: Abbey Moore-Kneipp (Jr., 6-1, F); Sarah Robbins (Sr., 5-6, F); Anna Stair (Sr., 5-6, PG).
Others to watch: Sandra Cadena (Sr., 5-6, G); Maddie Lehnerr (So., 6-0, F); Andrea Willis (Sr., 5-7, F).
Outlook: The Warriors have a lot of returning experience and are confident their inside play can be a swaying factor in achieving a winning season. Moore-Kneipp averaged 10 points a game last year as a sophomore and should surpass that average.
Coach: Jason Maguire (first year).
Last year: 5-15 overall; 3-8 Mile High League
Returning starters: Taylor Christiansen (Jr., 5-11, G/F); Liz Jonjak (Jr., 5-4, G); Maddie Maguire (Jr., 5-4, G);
Others to watch: Madison Johnson (So., 6-0, F); Ixchel Leeuwenburgh (So., 5-10, F); Maizie Grace (Sr., 6-2, F).
Outlook: Maguire takes over as girls coach after heading up the boys program for a long time, and he figures to have the team competing for a district title with a pressure defense. Christiansen has averaged 12.7 points and 9.2 rebounds over two years, but the Lions have a lot of height.
Coach: Michael Ward (seventh year).
Last year: 17-8 overall; 11-3 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: None
Others to watch: Nicole Hamann (Jr., 5-7, G); Cami Kamigaki (Jr., 5-7, G); Anna Veltien (So., 5-10, F).
Outlook: The Mavericks are going to be a work in progress through the preseason in hopes that they can gel by the time league play starts after graduating all five starters. With four straight winning seasons, the feeling is Mead will still be competitive even as it is trying to figure things out.
Coach: Bill Bradley (first year).
Last year: 24-3 overall; 11-1 Front Range League
Returning starters: Peyton Carter (Jr., 5-7, G); Jasmine Jeffcoat (Jr., 6-2, F).
Others to watch: Kellie Beswick, 6-0, Sr.,); Liv Burgener (Sr., 5-8, G); Charlotte Crist (Sr., 5-10, F); Garyn Grace (Sr., 5-2, G); Lauren Paswaters (Sr., 5-8, F); Macy Scott (Sr., 5-11, F); Lina Yesaulov (Jr., 5-11, G/F).
Outlook: Bradley, taking over for Gail Hook but a man with an outstanding resume, is busy these days still figuring out the puzzle that is a healthy rotation for MHS. He is excited, though, to be working with girls who love the sport, and he said keeping an open mind is the biggest thing for the team in the early season. The Coyotes are no doubt league contenders.
Coach: Shelby Nation (first year).
Last year: Did not field a team
Outlook: The Panthers were forced to cancel their games ahead of winter break because the participation just isn’t there at the moment, but Nation — also the volleyball coach — has been assigned the task of generating hoops interest in the middle school through camps which the high school players who did show up will help run.
Coach: Terri Ward (third year current tenure).
Last year: 10-13 overall; 6-8 Northern League
Returning starters: YY Chen (Jr., 5-7, PG); Alyssa Jenkins (Sr., 5-10, F).
Others to watch: Mary Gillett (So., 5-8, G); Sophie Grant (So., 5-8, G); Alli Mercier (So., 5-5, PG); Emily Mercier (Sr., 5-8, G); Rosie Setter (So., 5-8, F); Keena Strope (Sr., 5-10, F).
Outlook: The Cougars are well-coached and tenacious, and that bodes well for them when it comes to league play. Chen and Jenkins will provide a good inside-outside combination, but Niwot will rely on quick decisions and ball movement on offense to help get other girls open. A goal to get in the top half of the league is attainable.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Dan Seidman (first year).
Last year: 9-13 overall; 4-5 Metro League
Returning starters: Fiona Freeman-Grundei (Sr., 5-10, C); Kenna Hazzard (Jr., 5-6, PG); Rachel Thomas (So., 5-8, G).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: Seidman takes over a younger team with just one senior, but he said he likes the basketball knowledge throughout the squad so far. The Pumas are going to be defense-first and let the offense develop game-by-game, what with Hazzard’s 2.9 point scoring average the top among the returners. Thomas could take a big step forward.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes (fifth year).
Last year: 13-8 overall; 4-3 Class 2A/1A 5280 League
Returning starters: Sarrah Claman (Sr., 5-7, G); Rosie Gershman (Sr., 5-7, G); Tea Speek (Sr., 5-7, G); Katharine Wilson (Sr., 5-9, F).
Others to watch: Ella Baca (Jr., 5-4, G); Erin Ellinwood (Jr., 5-6, F); Meishan Wright (Jr., 5-7, PG).
Outlook: The Lions definitely lost a toughie in districts last year, and there is hope they can get back to that point and excel behind the core of returners in their senior season. For a small school, the team has pretty solid depth, too.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Dan Kloster (12th year)
Last year: 18-7 overall; 11-3 Northern League
Returning starters: Jordan Carter (Sr., 6-2, F); Kayla Noble (Jr., 5-5, G); Heidi Stauss (Sr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Violet Kennedy (Jr., 6-2, F).
Outlook: Kloster is closing in on 200 career wins, and the Raptors are a group that could get him there this year if they can put together a deep playoff run. There are expectations of this team being better shooting, and Silver Creek will try and work at an even faster pace than years past. Kloster said the team is 10-deep, so fresh legs will help create opportunities.
Coach: Gerald Macon (first year).
Last year: 6-17 overall; 3-11 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Rachel Kissinger (Sr., 6-1, C); Leah Osborn (Sr., 5-8, G); Kelsey Robison (Sr., 5-6, G).
Others to watch: Bella Garcia (Jr., 5-7, G).
Outlook: The Falcons had to fight to get through the season after former coach Jimmy Pappas had to resign because of his health, but they did work to get some late wins they can hopefully build on this year. Macon is optimistic the early team cohesion he feels within the team will help toward a good start to the season.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Jim Schauer (second year).
Last year: 0-16 overall; 0-11 Mile High League
Returning starters: Torrey Dawson (Sr., G); Kaylee Paul (Sr., F); Kathy Pham (So., G); Hannah Schauer (So., F).
Others to watch: Riley Castleberry (Jr., G).
Outlook: Teaching fundamentals is still at the heart of the Twin Peaks program, and the Timberwolves have a group of now-sophomores that should grow as the year goes on. Coach Schauer said he likes the overall improvement in shooting skills and guard play, and there will be way more confidence on the defensive end.
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