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BoCoPreps Roundtable No. 2: boys basketball

What teams behind the frontrunners might be ready for a run?

Centaurus High School's Nathan Davis (No. ...
Daily Camera file photo
The Centaurus defense is second in the Northern League in points allowed per game (46.6 average), giving it a chance to win night in and night out.

Following up on our introductory roundtable on girls basketball from a couple of weeks ago, our Brad Cochi presented us this time with a question about boys basketball and league standings as the regular season winds ’round the bend and into a final three-week stretch of regular season play. Needless to say, we’ve got some good games coming up that will determine a ton.

Presenting the BoCoPreps roundtable No. 2:

Brad Cochi: Roughly halfway through conference play in Colorado, we have four boys basketball teams – Longmont (13-2, 7-0), Mead (16-1, 10-0), and a tie between Fairview (14-3, 6-0) and Boulder (13-3, 5-0) – that still have perfect conference records and are sitting atop their respective league standings. Which local team not leading its league appears poised for a strong finish and possibly the right to host a first-round playoff game?

I’m going with the Centaurus Warriors. In each of the three seasons prior to this one, the Centaurus program has at least doubled its win total from the previous year. Last season, the Warriors finished with 18 and reached the Great 8 after entering the Class 4A postseason field as the No. 9 overall seed. At this point in the winter of 2019-20, the Warriors are chasing both Longmont and Silver Creek (9-6, 5-1) in the Northern League. They’re also 12-4 overall and are sitting at No. 14 in the RPI standings, which would be close to netting them a first-round bye if the regular season ended today. Two of the team’s losses are to Lewis-Palmer and Longmont, the teams that faced each other in the last two state title games. The Warriors lost a lot of talent to graduation from last year’s a senior-laden squad, but they still have reigning player of the year Owen Koonce. Averaging 17.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior, Koonce leads a solid group that includes juniors Mario Everett, Carson Hill and Dashiel Walker. Given the limited playing time those around Koonce received last season, it’s reasonable to project that they will continue improving as they gain experience down the stretch. With eight games left in the regular season, I’m expecting head coach Travis Maron and the Warriors to put together a strong finish over the next three weeks and enter the postseason in a good position to make another run.

ERIE, CO - Erie High School's ...
Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Are the Erie Tigers ready for a run in the Tri-Valley League? An increase in scoring capability this year over last year certainly suggests it.

Brandon Boles: Thanks to an expanded playoff field and the RPI being used to determine which teams make it and what seed they will be, many local teams in Classes 5A and 4A are in position to earn either a home game or bye in the first round of the state tournament. As I respond to this question, I count eight teams in Class 4A and three in Class 5A playing for the chance to get either a bye or home game in the first round.

One of the biggest stories in our area this season is the Erie Tigers. They welcomed a new head coach this season in Gail Hook, who coached the girls team at Monarch, to take over for an Erie team that was young and finished 10-14 and lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. After their 73-35 win over Roosevelt on Tuesday, the Tigers are 13-4 on the season and currently sit at No. 8 in the latest RPI rankings from CHSAA. Scoring is up this season to 65 points per game as the team is shooting 44 percent from the field, up five percent from last year, and the team is much better on the boards with 31.5 boards per game compared to 23.5 last season. They are deep with 10 players playing in 13 or more games, and eight of those players average five or more points per game for a more balanced offensive attack, led by Kevin Loy (11 points per game) and LaDorian Havard (10.9 points per game).

They may be overshadowed by Mead looking like a potential state champion and Longmont looking Final Four caliber despite graduating seven seniors who made back-to-back championship game appearances, but I think Erie can be what Centaurus was last season — a team that earns a top-10 seed and makes a run to the Great 8 and, possibly, further. The Tigers are battle-tested thanks to the Tri-Valley League and a good slate of nonconference games that includes Longmont (a 58-56 win), Silver Creek (won 60-57) and Centaurus (lost 77-72). That bodes well for the postseason, and the fact that the Tigers have passed most of those tests shows the potential they have for this postseason.

Brent W. New: Silver Creek, currently ranked 17th in Class 4A RPI, has won four straight. It boosts the leading scorer in the 4A Northern League in Andrew Duquette.  And somewhat quietly, it’s just one game back of the league lead. Count me in for a strong finish from Bob Banning’s team.

The last time I saw the Raptors was actually the last time they lost — a 67-57 defeat Jan. 10 at Longmont. In it, Duquette (19.7 points per game) was one of three players out with the flu (and who was left was probably in foul trouble that night). Yet, big ups to sophomore Andrew Scott’s 21 points and nice play from some reserves, it was still a one-possession game heading into the fourth quarter.

Begs to question, if the Raptors can play close in Jeff Kloster’s house, what can they do at full strength down the stretch? Well, as a taster, Duquette just put up 36 points on 11-of-13 shooting in a win over Thompson Valley Tuesday. The team’s No. 2 scorer, Scott (10.3 PPG), meanwhile, has proven capable of taking over, too. A couple weeks ago, he scored 51 over two games while shooting better than 50 percent.

This next week should decide a lot in the league with Silver Creek hosting Centaurus Friday and the Trojans Tuesday.

Adam Dunivan: I am going to switch gears a little bit and focus on the FRL and the Broomfield Eagles. There are a number of teams right behind Fairview and Boulder — as an aside, that clash between the Panthers and Knights at the CU Events Center on Feb. 17 is going to be electric — and with Broomfield sitting at No. 23 in the 5A RPI (as the fourth FRL team right behind No. 19 Mountain Range) even a 6-2 record over the final eight games, or even 5-3, will net them a home game.

Yet, the Eagles have a chance to do way more. They have six consecutive home games — that’s right, six — before ending the regular season at Poudre and at Monarch. The combined record of those eight teams they play, including Fairview, is 66-65. The Knights count for 14 of those 66. I think that 6-2 is within reason and show Broomfield that is just as strong as its 2017-18 team.

That team scored 63 points a game on its way to a 16-8 record; this 2019-20 team is putting up 61.2 points an outing and is led by five seniors (Grant Swenson, Ryan Collins, Carson Briggs, Charlie Vanderberg, Andrew Purdum) who want to go out differently and deliver the Eagles another chance at the Sweet 16 or better.

Of note, we’ll be covering that Gryphon Game with Holy Family this Saturday evening, as it’s always a heck of a hoops atmosphere.

BOULDER, CO - Dec. 11, 2019: ...
Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Terrence Dunn’s Broomfield Eagles have six straight home games starting Friday, representing a real good chance to get on a roll as the regular season comes to a close.