League and team outlook
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain. Fossil Ridge won the FRL title last season, snapping a streak of three straight years that the Horizon Hawks won the conference. Broomfield has been runner-up for the past two seasons.
2019-20 league leaders: Broomfield’s Courtney Wristen is the top returning scorer in the Front Range League after averaging 14.2 points as a junior last season. She was also third in rebounds, averaging 9.0 last winter … Wristen also led the league with 2.3 blocks a game. Fairview’s Kailey Page was second with 2.2 … Fort Collins’ Emily Johnson is the top returning rebounder in the FRL after pulling down 9.7 a night in 2019-20. Teammate Shayne Young was third with 44 made 3-pointers as a sophomore … Rocky Mountain’s Laisha Armendariz-Lopez led the league with 3.3 assists per game … Boulder’s Ella Bartsch is the top returning player in steals, averaging 3.0 as a sophomore last winter.
Numbers game: The FRL has several dynamic post players returning for Season B. In 2019-20, Wristen led the league with a dozen double-doubles. Johnson had seven and Page had five.
Coach: Mike Croell
The Scorecard: After posting a 18-7 record last season, the Eagles return a solid core of players that includes University of San Diego-bound forward Courtney Wristen, Emma Rich and Sophie Christopher. With an experienced rotation that can go seven or eight deep, Broomfield should have a good shot to return to the Sweet 16 or possibly make a deeper run into the postseason bracket. Last season was the first time in Croell’s 22-year career at Broomfield that the Eagles failed to reach the Great 8 or better, so the team is using that as motivation in Season B.
Coach: Emily Van Patten
The Scorecard: The Panthers will once again be led by pace-setting point guard Abbie Gillach, who led the team with 10.8 points per game as a junior last winter. Boulder also has a more mature team this season and is expecting returning starters like junior Ella Bartsch and Karina Ontiveros to take big steps forward. With that in mind, the Panthers have set their sights on a winning season after going 6-17 in 2019-20 and going winless in Front Range League play.
Coach: Rod Beauchamp
The Scorecard: The Knights reached the Sweet 16 last season but will be without their leading scorer, Izzy Munson, who graduated and is now at Emory University. But the cupboard certainly is not bare at Fairview, as the Knights will lean heavily on a core group that includes Kailey Page, Makena Englund and Emma Novak. They’ll need some younger and more inexperienced players to step up and contribute if the Knights hope to return to the Sweet 16, but Beauchamp said FHS has high hopes for players like Lily Morton and Sophia Hrywnak.
Coach: Jody Welch
The Scorecard: Now in their second season since Welch returned to the head coaching role, the Legacy girls will look quite different now that do-it-all leader Halle Mackiewicz has graduated. Returning starters like Katie Paredes, Westbrook Jensen and Jay Wikoff will be called upon to fill that void and lead a young and athletic group that features a number of multi-sport athletes. Welch said the team has been having fun and looking good in early practices and has high hopes for the upcoming campaign.
Coach: Mike Blakely
The Scorecard: Monarch was an emerging group last winter and expects to hit the ground running with a solid senior group that features the likes of Chelin Isaacson and Emily Kennie. Sophomore Natalie Guanella will be a player to watch after an impressive freshman campaign in 2019-20. Expect the Coyotes to be a long and fast team that if it can consistently defend and rebound, could make some noise in the Front Range League.
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Erie, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Mead, Silver Creek, Skyline, Windsor. The NCAC is a new league composed mostly of teams from the old Northern and Tri-Valley conferences. In last year’s Tri-Valley, Holy Family, Berthoud and Erie all finished with matching 14-2 records in conference play.
2019-20 league leaders: As a freshman last season, Centaurus guard Laura Gensert led the Northern League in scoring with an average of 13.9 points per game and teammate Julia Mischke (12.3 ppg) was fifth. Gensert also was second in the Northern with 47 made 3-pointers … Silver Creek’s Marissa Bartels was fifth in the Northern least season with 31 made 3-pointers … Erie’s Grace Moyers, who led the league with 68 made 3-pointers, and Genevieve Gudino were both top-4 scorers in the Tri-Valley League last season, averaging 14.7 and 14.2 points per game, respectively … Mead’s Jacklyn Stephenson was ninth in scoring in the Tri-Valley with 10.7 points per game and fourth with 7.2 rebounds … Holy Family’s Alyssa Wells averaged 12.7 points a night, which was seventh in the Tri-Valley … Erie’s Anna Hefner was third in the Tri-Valley with 7.2 rebounds per game … Frederick’s Megan Majeres was fourth in the Tri-Valley with 43 made 3-pointers as a freshman last season … Holy Family’s Alyssa Wells was top three in both made 3-pointers and assists … Holy Family’s Cecilia Aanerud led the Tri-Valley with 2.2 blocks a night … Greeley West’s Lyndsie Roberts led the Front Range League with 48 made 3-pointers.
Numbers game: In a league that typically plays tough defense, the Erie Tigers led the Tri-Valley League in team scoring average with 67.1 points per game. They shot 43% from the field and 34% from 3-point range.
Coach: Chris Mischke
The Scorecard: Last season, the Warriors took a big step forward in posting a 14-11 record and reaching the second round of the playoffs. Many of the players to paced that run are back, including Julia Mischke, Sam Sterritt, Page Sanchez and impressive sophomore guard Laura Gensert. In all, the team returns 10 letter-winners and some solid height from previous seasons, so the Warriors expect to continue their rebuilding process in a competitive league.
Coach: Chris Walls
The Scorecard: The Tigers have a new head coach but return four of five starters from a team that made it all the way to the Great 8 in 2019-20. That group brings an strong inside presence in the form of Anna Hefner and talented guards like Grace Moyers, Deb Altshuler and Genevieve Gudino. Freshman Madeline Hartel has already made a surprising impression in preseason play, during which the Tigers have been working on “strengthening their strengths.” After proving their metal with 23 wins in 2019-20, the Tigers will enter Season B among the favorites in the new NCAC.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Ron Rossi
The Scorecard: Holy Family was set to take on Mullen in the 4A state championship game last season before the final was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers return a veteran senior group — Tyler Whitlock, Dylan Saunders, Cecelia Aanerud and Daniella Hren — that has reached the Final Four in back-to-back years. Last year’s team also broke nearly all of the defensive records at Holy Family and Rossi said this year’s team has improved its inside game, running game and depth, which should be a real strength throughout the shortened season. There are plenty of reasons to expect the Tigers to be just as good, if not better, than they were last winter.
Coach: Wade Kingsbury
The Scorecard: This year’s Trojans will be looking to reload after graduating all-conference leader Jordynn Lee and several other seniors. They still believe, however, that they should be able to compete every night in the hope of breaking into the top half of their new league. Two big reasons for that optimism are emergent sophomore guard Christine D’Epagnier and senior guard Sarah Wormke, who will help set the tone for this young Trojans group.
Coach: JR Sagner
The Scorecard: After going 12-13 with a young group in 2019-20, the Mavericks are looking to build on last year’s success and plan to take advantage of their greater maturity in Season B. The team also returns starters like Maddox Boston, Mary Maher, Jacklyn Stephenson, Kyra Haan and Charlotte Brenna, and will be bolstered by the addition of a versatile and athletic player in Edie Morrow. There won’t be many easy games in the new NCAC this season but the Mavericks think they’ll match up well with the league’s top teams because of their defense and ability to play with tempo.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Ashley Jelly
The Scorecard: The Raptors lost a bunch of close games last winter and they’re hoping the work players like Mackenzie Larson and Marissa Bartels put in during the offseason will help them change some of those narrow outcomes in new league. The team will also be playing under interim coach Ashley Jelly while coach Ashlee Runyon is expecting a child, and will be in the 5A postseason for the first time this year despite playing in a mostly 4A league. A lot will be new for the Silver Creek girls basketball team this season, even more than other teams.
Coach: Scott Melin
The Scorecard: With a new coach and plenty of younger players needing to step up and fill a significant void caused by graduation, the Falcons will look quite a bit different when they take the court in Season B. But returning players like Abigail Anson, Charlee Neb, Natalie Weathers and Abbigail Farmer got plenty of varsity experience last year and should be ready to take over. Like Silver Creek, Skyline will be playing in the 5A postseason should they make the cut this season, which will be a new and unique experience for a team that has been in 4A for a long time.
Longs Peak League
Teams and trends: Berthoud, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt, Severance, Thompson Valley. The Longs Peak League is a new league with mostly teams from the old Northern League. In 2019-20, Thompson Valley won the Northern League with a 14-0 conference record.
2019-20 league leaders: Northridge’s Makenna Shaffer is the top returning rebounder from last year, when she averaged 7.9 rebounds a game … Northridge’s Katy Jo Werner led the Northern League in assists per game (4.3) and steals per game (3.7) as a freshman last season … Megan Majeres led the Frederick Warriors in scoring with 7.0 points per game … Berthoud’s Breanna Fowler was fifth in the Tri-Valley League with 14.0 points per game last season … Rachel Noble is the top returning scorer on the Niwot roster, averaging 4.3 points a night last season.
Numbers game: In an era when the 3-ball is increasingly popular, Thompson Valley led the Northern League in team scoring last season, averaging 51.5 points despite shooting just 26% from behind the arc.
Coach: Jake Hansen
The Scorecard: Though the Warriors will be a young team again this season, new head coach Jake Hansen believes he has inherited a solid core that includes the team’s top four scorers from last season. Sophomores Savanna Staff and Megan Majeres, as well as junior Ali Davis, are all returning starters and the Warriors are balanced in such a way that they could have a different leading scorer every night. After winning just six games last season, the Warriors have had good participation numbers for preseason workouts and hope this season is a turning point for a program that has had just two winning campaigns since 2006-07.
Coach: Terri Ward
The Scorecard: With players like Rachel Noble, Sophie Gebhart and Addie Ruth back in the mix, the Cougars plan to be a defensive-oriented team this season that will take advantage of the opportunities they are given on offense. The team should also get a boost from 6-foot-1 senior Mackenzie Demmel’s return in the post. They won just two games last year and the Cougars are looking to improve on that mark in Season B.
Teams and trends: Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Lutheran, Machebeuf, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge, Sky View Academy, St. Mary’s Academy, Stargate School. Lutheran continues to dominate the Metro League and has now won five of the last six conference titles while losing just three league games over the past six years. Jefferson Academy was runner-up in the league last season with a 10-1 record and that single loss coming against Lutheran by a score of 48-42.
2019-20 league leaders: Lutheran’s Stephanie Schultz led the league in scoring last season, averaging 14.5 points per game and shooting 39% from 3-point range … Prospect Ridge’s Elizabeth Rooks is the top returning rebounder in the league after averaging 11.5 boards a night in 2019-20 … Lutheran’s Kaitlin Kyle led the league with 61 made 3-pointers while averaging 41% from behind the arc. Prospect Ridge’s Faith Hernandez was third with 37 made long balls … Prospect Ridge’s Zoe Webster was third in the league with an average of three assists per game as a freshman last winter … Stargate School’s Erica Derby led the league with 5.5 steals a night … Colorado Academy’s Ella Freimuth averaged a league-leading 3.2 blocks per game in 2019-20.
Numbers game: Lutheran has terrorized the league and Class 3A from behind the 3-point line in recent years. In 2019-20, the team made 172 3-pointers in 24 games for an average of 7.2 per game. That was a primary reason the team led the league in scoring average (60.7) by just over 13 points more than the second highest scoring team, Jefferson Academy.
Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Mark Sharpley
The Scorecard: The Jaguars graduated four starters from last year’s team that won 18 games and finished second in the league, so this will be a young group. Veteran coach Mark Sharpley is once again pulling double duty, coaching both the JA boys and girls. Junior Jordan Neely, who was fourth in scoring last season, is the Jaguars’ lone returning starter and should lead a group that includes a number of sophomores and freshmen.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Joe Howard
The Scorecard: The Pumas have some key players opting out of the season but still have most of their core back from last winter. The team has been steadily improving in recent years and will be led by six-foot junior Mattie Stevens, who has had a great offseason and has matured into a well-rounded player. Mary Reilly will also be a boon for Peak to Peak after sitting out last season because of transfer rules. Now in his third season as head coach, Howard said the team’s mentality has changed and the Pumas are ready to make a run at a winning season.
Prospect Ridge Miners
Coach: Ellie Kempfe
The Scorecard: The Miners return three starters — junior Elizabeth Rooks, senior Faith Hernandez and sophomore Zoe Webster — from last year’s team. They will look to draw from their previous experience to execute at a higher level on a regular basis after a good offseason. Look for Prospect Ridge to push the tempo of the game more than in previous years and be competitive in a tough Metro League.
Mile High League
Teams and trends: Clear Creek, Dawson School, Dayspring Christian, Denver Christian, Front Range Christian, Gilpin County, Heritage Christian, Highlands, Longmont Christian, Loveland Classical, Lyons, Nederland, Twin Peaks, Union Colony. Heritage Christian has won the Mile High title in each of the past two years. Both times, Dawson finished runner-up.
2019-20 league leaders: Longmont Christian’s Taylor Vandenburg led the league in scoring with 14.7 points per game last winter. Teammate Jessica Schneider, who also led the league with 11.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, was third, averaging 11.4 a game. Ellie Echols, who led the league with 41 made 3-pointers and 3.1 assists per game, was also fifth, averaging 7.5 points … Dawson’s Maddy Timms is the top returning producer for the team after averaging 9.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game in 2019-20 … Avery Joy is the top returning scorer for Lyons. She averaged 12.3 points per game as a junior last season.
Numbers game: Longmont Christian has quite a few dynamic players returning for this season, as evidenced by the fact that Jessica Schneider (13) and Taylor Vandenburg (7) combined for 20 double-doubles last winter.
Dawson School Mustangs
Coach: Matt Johnston
The Scorecard: Last winter’s 19-5 campaign was a good one for the Mustangs, but they lost three four-year starters to graduation at the end of the school year. Still, Johnston said the team believes in its young core and seniors like Maddy Timms and Alexis Gillio, and are looking forward to getting going in the MHL. Other players like sophomore Annabelle Biggar, junior Helen Leon and junior America Cordero will be called upon to play a much larger role.
Longmont Christian Warriors
Coach: Casey Jo McKim
The Scorecard: New head coach Casey Jo McKim will lead the Warriors into the season and hopefully back to the postseason. Longmont Christian brings back last season’s top scorers, including Taylor Vandenburg (14.7 ppg), Jessica Schneider and Rachel Cahill. “We are working with a bit of a new crew, but believe we will be able to have a big season,” McKim said. “I am looking forward to coaching these seniors for their last year. We have been putting in the work and can’t wait to get started.”
Coach: Marcus Richardson
The Scorecard: Lyons returns three seniors who have all started the last two or three seasons. That group includes forward Hannah Schweiger anchoring the middle of the floor, two time all-conference player Avery Joy and senior point guard Jazmyn Enny. The Lions will need to establish an identity on defense in order to define their season, developing toughness in the early going and becoming a cohesive group around their top seniors.
Twin Peaks Timberwolves
Coach: Jim Schauer
The Scorecard: Coming off a one-win season, it’s difficult for the Timberwolves to pinpoint just one or two areas where they need to improve. But a number of those losses last season were close at the end of the game or going into the fourth quarter, so the team believes it can improve its record significantly just by putting together more complete games. Ehreem Barilla is the team’s lone returning starter in a group that includes Karime Pantoja, Delyla Ramirez and Elyse Hughes.
Teams and trends: Belleview Christian, Beth Eden Baptist, Denver Academy of Torah, Denver Jewish Day, Denver Waldorf, Flatirons Academy, Front Range Baptist, Mile High Academy, Rocky Mountain Lutheran, Shining Mountain Waldorf. Flatirons Academy went 5-0 to win the 5280 league last winter, barely edging Shining Mountain for first place. The year before, Shining Mountain won the league title, which was the team’s first since 2007-08.
2019-20 league leaders: Shining Mountain had three different players — Lola Conaway (13.0), Frances Hilliard (11.1) and Kalea Zeender (10.2) — score in double figures last season … Flatirons Academy also had three players — Kenlee Durrill (15.6), Bryn Durrill (14.4) and Savana Kasack (11.7) — score in double figures … Elaizha Nelson led third-place Belleview Christian in scoring as a sophomore, averaging 11.1 points per game.
Numbers game: Shining Mountain was one of just four teams still alive in the Class 1A state tournament when the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic last season. The Lions were the No. 5 seed and were set to play No. 1 Springfield in the Final Four.
Shining Mountain Lions
Coach: Mike Hawkes
The Scorecard: Last year’s team posted a 19-5 record and the vast majority of those players like Olivia Jabari, Frances Hilliard, Kalea Zeender and Sophia Matarrese are back. The Lions expect to continue emphasizing defense after holding each of their 2019-20 opponents under their respective scoring averages. A deeper and more mature team that last year, the Lions hope to get back to the Final Four, where they advanced last season before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Point me to the postseason
The 14-game regular season for all classifications will be completed by March 6. In Classes 1A-3A, 24 teams will qualify for the state bracket. In 4A and 5A, 32 teams will make the bracket. In all five classifications, league champions are automatic qualifiers and the CHSAA Seeding and Selection Index will determine the rest of the at-large teams in the postseason field.
Cream of the crop: 2020 BoCoPreps.com All-region team
First Team (Name, 2019-20 class, school )
Halle Mackiewicz, Sr., Legacy; Grace Moyers, So., Erie; Izzy Munson, Sr., Fairview; Alyssa Wells, Sr., Holy Family; Courtney Wristen, Sr., Broomfield.
Kaitlyn Day, Sr., Dawson School; Abbie Gillach, Jr., Boulder; Genevieve Gudino, Jr., Erie; Ashayla Powers, Sr., Skyline; Tyler Whitlock, Jr., Holy Family.
Deb Altshuler, So., Erie; Cecilia Aanerud, Jr., Holy Family; Marissa Bartels, Jr., Silver Creek; Maddox Boston, So., Mead; Lola Conaway, Sr., Shining Mountain; Laura Gensert, Fr., Centaurus; Natalie Guanella, Fr., Monarch; Anna Hefner, Jr., Erie; Frances Hilliard, Jr., Shining Mountain; Jessica Hoffman, Sr., Broomfield; Avery Joy, Jr., Lyons; Emily Kennie, Jr., Monarch; Jordynn Lee, Sr., Longmont; Lily Lindstrom, Sr., Nederland; Julia Mischke, Jr., Centaurus; Megan Majeres, Fr., Frederick; Rachel Moreno, Sr., Jefferson Academy; Edie Morrow, So., Erie; Kailey Page, So., Fairview; Emma Rich, Jr., Broomfield; Adaya Richmond, Sr., Fairview; Aiyana Rockwell, Sr., Peak to Peak; Elizabeth Rooks, So., Prospect Ridge; Abigail Russo, Sr., Monarch; Dylan Sanders, Jr., Holy Family; Natalie Schauer, Sr., Twin Peaks; Jessica Schneider, So., Longmont Christian; Lily Sieben, Sr., Niwot; Jacklyn Stephenson, So., Mead; Mattie Stevens, So., Peak to Peak; Kenna Tarnowski, Sr., Frederick; Maddy Timms, Sr., Dawson; Lily Thimsen, Sr., Jefferson Academy; Taylor Vandenburg, Jr., Longmont Christian; Sarah Wormke, Jr., Longmont; Kalea Zeender, So., Shining Mountain.