Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Kira Vos / BoCoPreps.com
10 PLAYERS TO KNOW
Mary Gillett, Sr., Niwot — Stellar all-around athlete will be tasked with leading the Cougars’ guard-heavy attack.
Helen Gover, Jr., Centaurus — A player that has taken ownership of her role on the Warriors and will handle the ball a lot.
McKayley Green, Sr., Erie — A tough player around the basket that will work for rebounds and put-back shots.
Jessica Hoffman, So., Broomfield — Had some nice games as a freshman over second half of last year and should average in the double-digits this season.
Isabelle Hren, Sr., Holy Family — Do-it-all player for Holy Family once again will be floor general and likely heavy influence in Tigers’ playoff push.
Ashley Panem, Sr., Fairview — Four-year starter for Knights is ready to finish up an outstanding career as a scoring specialist.
Denali Pinto, Sr., Fairview — A tremendous rebounder with end-to-end athleticism, Pinto completes one of the state’s best back-court duos.
Nicole Reading, Jr., Monarch — The Coyotes will need a couple girls to step up in 2017-18 but Reading’s shooting will keep them in games.
Rachel Thomas, Sr., Peak to Peak — Tremendous scoring threat that can get to the free-throw line, Thomas finished third in scoring in the Metro League last year.
Anna Veltien, Sr., Mead — Another strong player who can create space, Veltien’s offensive production has increased every year.
The regular season for all classifications ends Feb. 17. 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. 24. Championship weekend is March 8-10 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: Sara Clarke (fifth season)
Last year: 5-18 overall; 2-10 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Emma Bagley (So., F); Grace Chow (Jr., G); Kelly McCarty (Sr., G).
Others to watch: Abbie Gillach (Fr., G); Skye Reich (Jr., C).
Outlook: The Panthers have their leading scorer back in McCarty (7.1 ppg) and will continue to be a team that will pressure up and down the court. Said Clarke: “The energy in the gym is high and positive and the girls are having fun putting in the work.”
Coach: Derek Seifried (third season)
Last year: 10-15 overall; 5-7 Front Range League
Returning starters: Jessica Hoffman (So., G); Vanessa Kort (Sr., G); Steph Peterson (Jr., PG).
Others to watch: Ellie Keeler (Jr., G); Brooke Pennington (So., G); Lydia Putsch (Jr., F); Courtney Wristen (Fr., F/G); Jaylene Young (Fr., G).
Outlook: Another talented freshman class is in the mix as soon as this year, and the Eagles will be looking to get back to being a league title contender with their athleticism a strength. Broomfield’s 43 points a game was not typical for them, but Peterson and Hoffman could be double-digit scoring threats this year.
Coach: Chris Mischke (second season)
Last year: 18-7 overall; 11-3 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters: Brooke Calvo (Jr., G); Helen Gover (Jr., G); Imani Licata-Becerril (Sr., F); Riley Negrey (So., G).
Others to watch: Morgan Negrey (Jr., G).
Outlook: As Mischke put it, “We’re another year older and hopefully wiser.” The Warriors have good scoring options, led by Gover who was seventh in the league last year, but Mischke said the team will hopefully be able to be more self-reliant this season. The coach also wants to see more controlled inside play team-wide.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Rob Pierson (first season)
Last year: 8-12 overall; 5-6 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Amelia Boone (Sr., F); Kaitlyn Day (So., G); Madison Day (So., G); Jess Drapkin (Sr., G); Kate Gallop (Jr., F/C).
Others to watch: Alex Dunbar (So., F); Maddy Timms (Fr., G/F)
Outlook: Pierson has been directing Shine Basketball Academy for nearly 20 years and he is looking forward to diving in with both feet to the Dawson girls program. Early signs indicate the Mustangs are wanting to play quick, and having a point guard like Kaitlyn Day will force a lot of action. Pierson knows the MHL is competitive, and getting Dawson into that upper echelon of teams is a near-future goal.
Coach: Sara Pfeifer (first season)
Last year: 11-14 overall; 5-9 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: McKayley Green (Sr., F); Kaitlyn Patterson (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Samantha Erbe (Fr., Post); Katie Huonder (Sr., F); Jade Phillips (Sr., G); Autymn Purcell (Sr., G).
Outlook: The Tigers have their third coach in three years, but Pfeifer said the team seems to be doing a great job adapting to a new system overall — with athleticism and skill playing dual roles. Green will continue to power her way around the post and leads a bunch of seniors looking to finish right.
Coach: Rod Beauchamp (18th season)
Last year: 15-11 overall, 4-8 Front Range League
Returning starters: Izzy Munson (So., G/F); Ashley Panem (Sr., G); Denali Pinto (Sr., G/F).
Others to watch: Faith Anderson (Sr., Post); Lucy Collins (So., Post); Ari Kontanopolous (Sr., F); Kate Lampert (Jr., F); Adaya Richmond (So., G); Tea Valdez (Sr., G).
Outlook: The Knights and Beauchamp look forward to one last year of the dynamic playmaking duo of Panem and Pinto while at the same time seeing what Munson can do in her second full season. Lampert, Anderson and Collins (at 6-foot-3) should keep FHS able to work the paint, too. Fairview will run light on the bench again this season so health is key.
Coach: Brett Andersen (second season)
Last year: 6-17 overall; 2-12 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Aspen Dufour (Sr., G); Tori Dufour (Jr., G); Mylie Tarnowski (Sr., G).
Others to watch: Shea Chavez (Jr., G/F); Adelina DeSantis (Jr., G); Danielle Hemelstrand (Jr., G/F); Hailee Hurtado (Jr., G/F).
Outlook: With an entire roster coming back from last year, including a ton of juniors, the Warriors should be a lot more cohesive and competitive throughout the season. Andersen said the team must improve from the free-throw line (45 precent last year) and perimeter (19 percent) but feels overall the defense will get after it and create more fast breaks.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Ron Rossi (14th season)
Last year: 19-6 overall; 13-1 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Izzy Hren (Sr., G); Amanda Ward (Jr., F).
Others to watch: Cecilia Aanerod (Fr., F); Paige Giltner (Sr., G); Genevieve Gudino (Fr., G); Kaitlyn McKenzie (Jr., G); Cyndy Pettinger (Sr., C); Gabby Thomas (So., F).
Outlook: With a pair of freshmen that are likely going to contribute immediately, there may be some tricks up Rossi’s sleeve with the Tigers despite just two returning starters. Overall, he said that his girls will rebound better and play stronger defense — Hren certainly serves as a shining example in both of those areas among others.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Crystal Deichert (fourth season)
Last year: 16-9 overall; 7-4 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Emily Grantham (Sr., Post); Rachel Schlagel (Sr., G); Kaitlyn Thimsen (Sr., G).
Others to watch: Ellie Hausmann (Jr., G); Laura Riley (So., Post); Lily Thimsen (So., G).
Outlook: The Jags had several close losses last year in Metro League play that had an effect on playoff seeding, and Deichert hopes this experienced squad can manage the game a little better. Hausmann, a threat from all over the court, is the leading returning scorer at six points a contest and Grantham and Schlagel will be expected to lay claim to a lot of rebounds.
Coach: Craig Van Patten (eighth season)
Last year: 15-10 overall; 5-7 Front Range League
Returning starters: Anya Carlson (Sr., F); Halle Mackiewicz (So., F); Olivia Zamora (Sr., G).
Others to watch: Talia DePetrillo (Fr. G); Isa Valenzuela (Jr., F).
Outlook: The Lightning were up and down last season but managed a really good playoff win, and the team can build off that with the size to match up with most league opponents. Mackiewicz will miss some games with a commitment to U.S. Soccer, but she already has shown to be a promising talent on the court. Carlson, Zamora and Valenzuela give LHS a nice group of experienced players.
Coach: Mike Knaus (sixth season)
Last year: 9-15 overall; 7-7 Northern League
Returning starters: Emma Carney (Sr., C); Eva D’Epagnier (Sr., F); Sydney Fixmer (Sr., G); Sam Wiley (Sr., G).
Others to watch: Riley Bolte (Sr., G); Shaelee Gray (Jr., F); Moriah Montes (Sr., C); Jenna Moore (Sr., F); Annika Wetterstrom (Jr., F).
Outlook: Coaches within the league are very aware of Longmont’s possibilities after a down season. The Trojans are likely going to win a lot with 45 points on the board because of their defense, but Knaus still hopes the team learns to finish better. Carney had good numbers in every category last year and experience should favor her.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Zach Echols (second season)
Last year: 4-15 overall; 1-10 Mile High League
Returning starters: Whitney Echols (Jr., G); Maddie Lehnherr (Sr., Post); Savannah Vrooman (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Rachel Cahill (Fr., G); Ellie Echols (Fr., G); Taylor Vandenburg (Fr., G/F).
Outlook: The Warriors will turn to a few freshmen to start this season, but coach Echols is excited about the beyond-their-years play so far. Additionally, Longmont Christian was much better offensively over the second half last season, a sign they began to understand the system. Whitney Echols, who could find herself playing in college, will carry a heavy load.
Coach: Marcus Richardson (first season)
Last year: 19-4 overall; 9-2 Mile High League
Returning starters: Sarah Hall (Sr., F); Madison Johnson (Sr., F/C); Ixchel Leeuwenburgh (Sr., F).
Others to watch: Shaeli Herman (Sr., G); Sophie Powell (Sr., G); Kylee Udovich (Jr., G); Adele Walker (Sr., post)
Outlook: The Lions have decent size for Richardson’s debut season at the helm, and some of the same players are coming off a volleyball state championship. Leeuwenburgh has good footwork in the paint as does Johnson, and the Lions may be more reliant on that inside toughness than in the past few seasons. There are nine seniors on the squad looking to raise eyebrows state-wide.
Coach: Vern Rathbun (second season)
Last year: 13-11 overall; 10-4 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Abbey Glynn (Jr., F); Anna Maher (Sr., PG); Anna Veltien (Sr., G/F).
Others to watch: Renee Choksey (Sr., G); Riley Gilbert (Jr., C); Alanna Hernandez (Sr., G); Jada Levine (Sr., F); Bailey O’Dell (Jr., C).
Outlook: Mead will likely be in the conversation for a TVL title with a good mix of great overall athletes, led by the softball ace pitcher Veltien and hurdler/volleyball stud Glynn. Maher is a fun player to watch and can get hot outside, but Rathbun also lauded the reserves for their hunger to get better.
Coach: Carlee Lough (first season)
Last year: 16-7 overall; 10-2 Front Range League
Returning starters: Emerson Herrmann (Jr., F); Lily Morgan (Jr., G); Nicole Reading (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Clara Butler (So., F); Cadence Taht (So., PG); Anna Trujillo (Fr., G).
Outlook: With no seniors on the roster this season, the Coyotes are one of the more unpredictable teams in the FRL — certainly capable of winning the same way they did last year. Herrmann and Reading will have a lot of responsibilities on offense, but there will be young players expected to carry their weight as Lough builds the program back up.
Coach: Simone Smead
Last year: 2-16 overall; 0-11 Mile High League
Returning starters: Linnaea Thibedeau (Sr., Post); Karen Sorokach (Sr., Post).
Others to watch: Helen Cross (So., G/F); Avy Henrikson (Jr., F); Lili Lindstrom (So., G); Alex Sorokach (So., G); Breegan McClish (Jr., G)
Outlook: The roster of 12 players, which includes a healthy freshmen group, means the Panthers will be able to increase their intensity on defense without sacrificing tired bodies, and Smead is more than elated to have some rebounders in Thibedeau and the older Sorokach. It should be a nice rotation for a coach looking to develop the program.
Coach: Terri Ward (25th season)
Last year: 11-12 overall; 6-8 Northern League
Returning starters: Mary Gillett (Sr., F); Sophie Grant (Sr., G/F).
Others to watch: Marlow Baines (So., C); Allie Colvin (Sr., F/G); Jamie Lee (Sr., G); Rosie Setter (Sr., F); Nikki Sims (So., G).
Outlook: The RPI got the best of Niwot last year, and the Cougars were snakebitten, too, by injuries to Setter and Lee (both ACL tears). This year, with leading scorer Zoe Gonzales opting to focus on volleyball, Niwot will have to learn to use their quickness — though Grant and Gillett are both girls that can create their own shots.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Dan Seidman (third season)
Last year: 6-14 overall; 3-7 Metro League
Returning starters: Rachel Thomas (Sr., G)
Others to watch: Aiyana Rockwell (So., G); Rachel Willette (Jr., F).
Outlook: Thomas accounted for about 40 percent of the team’s scoring last year, and while her talent will continue to shine Seidman expects the rest of the team to shoot and handle the ball better this season. He has seen a group that has expressed a desire to be better, and that could translate into a top-half league finish.
PROSPECT RIDGE MINERS
Coach: Sara O’Flannigan
Last year: 5-15 overall; 2-8 Metro League
Returning starters: Tatum Abram (Jr., G); Brittany Gioso (Jr., F/G); Jocelyn Korbe (So., G/F); Alex Weber (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Sierra Leopold (Fr., F); Molly O’Flannigan (Jr., G/F).
Outlook: The Miners have a scoring combo in Gioso and Weber that will keep any team looking toward a league title, and with Molly O’Flannigan returning from a knee injury the Miners appear to be in much better shape all-around. Leopold is 6-foot-1 and will provide a necessary inside-outside fixture, and this team still works with no seniors on the roster.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes (seventh season)
Last year: 7-15 overall; 4-3 Class 1A 5280 League
Returning starters: Lola Conaway (So., C); Sophie Fairmount (Sr., G); Amrita Shore (Jr., G).
Others to watch: Frances Hilliard (Fr., G); Olivia Jabari (Fr., G).
Outlook: Shining Mountain lost its top three scorers to graduation, so the Lions will have to be willing to learn while absorbing some tough lessons. Said Hawkes of his Lions, however: “This group is determined and hard-working and they have bonded unlike any team I’ve coached in the past. They have a dedication to the fundamentals.” The league opens up with Jim Elliott not fielding a team.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Barry Litt (first season)
Last year: 15-9 overall; 8-6 Northern League
Returning starters: Parker Nicholas (Sr., F); Liz Salmeron (Sr., F).
Others to watch: Marissa Bartel (Fr., G); Katie James (Jr., F); Lucy Scott (Jr., F); Colleen Tyrell (Jr., F).
Outlook: The Raptors should remain competitive in the Northern League through hard work and getting out in front of the defense in transition. Salmeron averaged eight points and near six rebounds a contest last year and will be looked as a leader, and SCHS has some good experience otherwise with James, Scott and Tyrell all playing a lot last year.
Coach: Luke Cerveny (first season)
Last year: 12-11 overall; 5-9 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Kylie Earhart (Sr., F); Bailey Emanuel (Sr., G); Aly McKrola (So., G/F); Lindrey Schendel (So., F/G).
Others to watch: Alexis Aguirre (Sr., G/F); Madelein Mattila (Jr., Post); Maddie Pitts (Fr., G/F); Ashayla Powers (So., F); Yesi Salomon (Sr., G).
Outlook: Cerveny takes over a Falcons teams that ended last season by beating rival Longmont, and the new coach is excited about a group of returning girls ready to carve out a playoff berth. He’s still evaluating roles but what is known is Schendel and McKrola return as leading scorers and Earhart is feisty in the post.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Mark Nuti (first season)
Last year: 7-13 overall; 2-9 Mile High League
Returning starters: Katherine Louwers (Sr., G); Hannah Schauer (Sr., F); Natalie Schauer (So., F); Maddie Thorne (Sr., F).
Others to watch: Eve Diby (Sr., F); Abby Guildner (Sr., G); Meagan Terrill (Sr., G).
Outlook: The Timberwolves won a program-best seven games last year and there were only two seniors on the team, so Nuti has a pretty good base of players to groom this season after working with the boys team last year. Upping the scoring output even 6-to-8 points a game is a priority and the team’s senior group should be able to get that done. Natalie Schauer could be in for a big year, as well.
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