Frederick senior Luke Justice wasn’t going to sit out in the postseason, even after he came down with a sickness and sprained his ankle days prior to the state quarterfinals at the Denver Coliseum. Nor when he reinjured it early into the semifinals.
No matter the circumstances, “Swift Justice” and his quick-strike offensive game has never been one to miss a challenge on the basketball court. And Saturday, he will get another test as he takes part in the state’s most-recognized high school basketball all-star platform at The Show.
“It’ll be fun,” he said by phone Friday. “Especially because we were 5A and weren’t able to play against 6A teams this year. So, coaches have talked to me about going up against great players in 6A and seeing like head-to-head, going against those top players.”
Justice was one of 14 local players invited to take part at the 23rd running of the two-day event, which started Friday at Metro State University in Denver.
A year after he played in the Top-40 game, Justice was placed in the premier Top-20 game and is expected to play alongside Mead’s two-way standout Nick Basson at 8 p.m. Justice and the Golden Eagles knocked out Basson’s team in the 5A quarterfinals earlier in the month.
Monarch’s Natalie Guanella, the Front Range League’s player of the year for a third straight year, meanwhile, is in the girls’ Top-20 game at 6:30 p.m. She helped lead the Coyotes to their third title game appearance before falling to reigning champ Grandview. Monarch coach Mike Blakely was tabbed to coach her team.
“It’s an honor to be playing with some of those other girls who are really good,” Guanella said. “I’ve played against a lot of those girls for a long time, so it’ll be fun to play with them or against them again. It’s a fun recognition.”
Holy Family, which won the girls and boys title in Class 4A, had four players invited to the 1A-4A Top-20 game.
Fiona Snashall and Essynce Contreraz will play in the girls’ game after leading the Tigers to their seventh title.
Rocco Bridges and Eric Quintana are in the boys’ game after guiding Holy Family to the title as the 17 seed. They’ll be opposite of Prospect Ridge standout Max Vacco, who averaged 22 points this winter while leading the Miners to the Class 3A round of 16.
On Friday, six locals were invited to play in the opening-day games.
Legacy girls basketball’s walking double-double, Olivia Mortensen, had a spot in the Top-40 game, while teammate Madison Gage was on roster in the Top-Seniors game.
Erie’s Madeline Hartel, a junior, was opposite sophomore Mortensen. Monarch’s Arezo Safi was on the same side as Gage in the seniors’ game.
On the boys’ side, Boulder’s Kyle Blauch, who averaged a double-double as a junior, was on the Top-40 roster alongside Mead’s Dominic McLawrence.