3A METRO LEAGUE BOYS’ BASKETBALL REPORT
I am honored to have Doug Wright help me out with the Metro League! He has written reports on the Metro for me now for 2 or 3 years and I am glad to have his help yet again.
By Doug Wright
As we move into the new year, Colorado high school basketball league play begins shortly. Here’s a look at the 3A Metro League boys’ teams, and our projected order of their finish in the league, based primarily on their December 2021 non-league performance and initial games this week. There appear to be several contenders in this typically strong league, and there could be some surprises this year—particularly if, as we have seen so far this season, COVID continues to cause key players to miss games.
We expect Kent Denver to claim the league title, although teams ranked 2-4 should be contenders. Teams ranked 5-8 will be competitive with each other and may surprise the top four teams. We’ll have a better sense of how these teams stack up later in January.
#1 Kent Denver (7-1, 1-0 Metro League) appears to have the tools and depth to make a strong run for the Metro League title and a State Championship run. The high-scoring Sun Devils, who average 92 points per game (including a 109-85 shellacking of Manitou Springs), have a three-headed scoring machine led by three year starter 6’5” Duke Benson (23.3 PPG), who is coming off an impressive 37 point performance in a close loss to The Academy. A big reason behind the Sun Devils’ scoring is their ability to knock down the 3-pointers. Ethan Levin has connected on 30 3-pointers so far and leads the team in scoring with a 23.5 PPG average. Junior Jay Royal (19.8 PPG) also has provided scoring punch to date. Kent Denver league games should be the most entertaining this year. Can any of the Metro League opponents slow down coach Todd Schayes’ crew? With their depth and scoring ability, we think not. Update: A 74-71 road win over a strong Eaton squad and a convincing 81-65 league-opening victory over Lutheran, featuring 8 three-pointers by Ethan Levin, buttress our views on Kent Denver’s ranking.
#2 Colorado Academy (9-1, 1-0 Metro League) has run off eight straight wins following a close season-opening loss to the #1 team in Class 3A, the St. Mary’s Pirates. Two impressive seniors lead the Mustangs. Guard Elliott Cravitz (17.6 PPG) is a three year starter who meshes nicely with forward Ahbil Woldeyohannes (12.1 PPG). A strong defensive team, Colorado Academy will need its complement of inside players—seniors 6’6” Cooper Quatrochi and 6’5” Robert McKee—to play well for long-time coach Steven Hyatt in order to take down archrival Kent Denver as well as league rivals Manual and Lutheran. Update: Colorado Academy posted a convincing league-opening win over Bishop Machebeuf, containing league leading scorer Will Yebio in the process.
#3 Manual (5-3) (2-0 Metro League) looks to continue its string of strong seasons. Its 2021 campaign ended with a close loss to eventual State Champion Lutheran in the second round of the championship. 6’4”senior Jordan Reed is a do-everything All State leader of the team, currently averaging 28 points and 9.4 rebounds per game after averaging 19 PPG last season. His supporting cast has been hot and cold through five games. Senior guard Kershawn Dickey averages over 10 PPG, while sophomore forward Deshawn Fox now averages almost 11 PPG thanks to a 27 point explosion against overmatched league rival Stargate School. Coach Omar Henry has proven over the past few seasons that he can mold his athletes into a cohesive unit that peaks at season’s end; can he do it again in 2022? How well Reed’s teammates respond to the challenge will provide the answer. Update: Following a narrow loss to Class 3A power Sterling, Jordan Reed dropped 53 points on Peak to Peak as Manual moved to 2-0 in Metro League play.
#4 Lutheran (4-5, 0-1 Metro League) , the 2021 Class 3A State Champion, lost a lot of firepower to graduation and transfers. Most important of those was the transfer by 6’11” All American Baye Fall to a prep school, leaving a huge hole in the middle of the Lions’ lineup. The remaining cast is a mixture of seniors and youth. Sophomore guard Braydon Jacob leads Lutheran with a 10.3 PPG average, while 6’4” senior Caleb Wilcox is averaging 8.5 PPG and almost 6 rebounds per game. After years of dominating the Metro League, Lutheran may now be challenged by a highly competitive pack of contenders. After playing a typically challenging December schedule of larger Class 4A and 5A schools, Lutheran remains a bit of an unknown quantity heading into the Metro League season. Update: A league-opening loss to Kent Denver reinforces our view that coach Bill Brandsma’s squad will finally get knocked from the Metro League throne.
#5 Faith Christian (6-3, 1-0 Metro League) has had a consistently strong boys’ basketball program. Its December results have been a bit of a mixed bag, with some strong wins and a couple disappointing losses. Faith sports a junior-laden lineup this year, led by Keegan Paige, whose 19 point average has been buoyed by a 34 point effort with seven 3-pointers in a win over Moffat County. The Eagles have a strong inside presence in 6’6” center Carson Jasa (12.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG). Always a disciplined, well coached team, Abram Ziemer’s Faith team should garner some wins in the Metro League but may not have the firepower to keep up with the teams mentioned above. Update: Faith Christian posted a solid road win over Prospect Ridge Academy in its Metro League opener.
#6 Bishop Machebeuf (5-4, 0-1 Metro League) is the Will Yebio show. The senior stalwart leads all Class 3A players in scoring with a 36.3 PPG average—8 points more per game than the next leading scorer. Yebio averages 27 attempts per game, and has two 40 point efforts to his credit thus far this season, including a 41 point game (on 37 shots) in a January loss to a strong undefeated Eaton team. He is supported by 6’1’’ senior Ian Snyder.(12.4 PPG). We look for Metro League opponents to focus their attention on Yebio to limit his production; how successful Yebio, his teammates and coach Seth Flageolle are in thwarting that attention will decide whether the Buffaloes will make any noise in the league this year. Update: Colorado Academy throttled Yebio in the league-opening game for both teams, which resulted in a blowout loss for the Buffaloes.
#7 Prospect Ridge Academy (3-5, 0-1 Metro League) has had an up and down early season, losing a close game to 7-1 University but also losing in overtime to Metro League rival Stargate School in a non-league contest. A squad comprised primarily of seniors and juniors, the Miners have some experienced leadership in junior Max Vacco (16.8 PPG) and 6’3” senior Andrew Cuss (13.7 PPG). In their few years as a member of the Metro League, Prospect Ridge has managed to win a few games annually but fall decisively to the upper echelon teams. It remains to be seen whether the Miners and coach Scott Iten can take the next step to move up in the Metro League rankings. Update: A league-opening loss to Faith Christian indicates that Prospect Ridge will remain consigned to the second division of the Metro League.
#8 Stargate School (7-2, 1-1 Metro League) is off to a surprisingly fine start in 2021-2022. A relatively new high school, the Eagles were 1-8 last season in the tough Metro League. With its leading scorer sophomore Dylan Perkins (14.3 PPG) and senior Bo LaPenna averaging a double-double in points and rebounds plus an overtime non-league win over Prospect Ridge in December, Stargate fans have some hope for the Metro League season. However, a 75-29 loss to Manual last week indicates that there will continue to be tough sledding in the Metro League for coach Jason Gray’s squad again in 2022. Update: Although the Manual loss shows there is a big gap between Stargate School and the league leaders, an impressive road win over Metro League rival Jefferson Academy provides some optimism for a better result in 2022.
#9 Jefferson Academy (3-5, 0-1 Metro League) is coming off an uncharacteristically disappointing 3-11 2020-2021 campaign, good for 8th place in last year’s Metro League. The Jaguars have had mixed pre-league results, including an early January loss to Fort Lupton (which narrowly defeated Stargate School in December), casting some doubt on their prospects heading into league play. Senior Kyle Hirsch (10.8 PPG) leads the team in scoring. The Jaguars will need to improve on their 23 turnovers per game average—a surprising stat for a team mentored by long-time coach Mark Sharply–if they want to move up in the Metro League this year. Update: A home league-opening loss to Stargate School raises serious questions about JA’s prospects for the 2022 Metro League season.
#10 Peak to Peak (3-5, 0-1 Metro League) looks to flip the script after a disappointing 2-10 2020-2021 campaign. The young Pumas, whose leading scorer is 6’4” sophomore Grant Boonstra (13.4 PPG), have seen mixed results through the first month of the season. The freshman and sophomore-laden roster under coach Evan Eschmeyer will need to grow up quickly to compete in the bruising Metro League–a tall order.
#11 Skyview Academy (2-6, 0-0 Metro League) has struggled to be competitive in the Metro League, and in 2020-2021 was winless both in the league and overall. At least the Hawks have a couple wins under their belt this season. However, a 22 point loss to a Berthoud team that lost by large margins to Lutheran and Prospect Ridge does not bode well for Skyview Academy, whose leading scorers—Treyton Cox at 16.4 PPG and Kyle Cosart at 11.9 PPG—are both sophomores. The rebuilding program continues for coach Tom Lederink’s Hawks.