CLASS 1A BOYS BASKETBALL WEEKLY PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
It might be a bit early to start paying very much attention to the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, as an undefeated and ranked team such as Briggsdale does not even show up in the top-50 of the metric. However, there have already been several games this week featuring teams inside the top-20, with many more on tap.
Looking back at the early portion of the week, Monday night saw Pikes Peak Christian, currently fifth in the Seeding Index, used a strong middle 16 minutes against Elbert to pick up a 66-57 victory. The Eagles outscored their 2A opponent 41-25 during the second and third quarters to earn the win. Noah Sachsenmaier connected on six three-pointers in scoring a team-leading 18 points, while Gabriel Fletcher and Trey Merrill each added 17 points, with a combined 19 rebounds. It was the third straight win for the Eagles.
Tuesday’s schedule put a lot of focus on the 5280, which saw Belleview Christian blast Mile High Academy 86-26 behind 34 points from Nathaniel Owen, and 14 from Brandon Ewing. Garrett Owen and Davin Hunter both finished with 10. Denver Jewish Day, hot on the heels of the Bruins, got 31 apiece from Andrew Zimmerman and Gavin Foonberg in a 93-31 win over Rocky Mountain Lutheran. Foonberg dropped 13 dimes to record the double-double.
Elsewhere, Cheyenne Wells went overtime to collect a 71-64 win over Stratton at home. Carson Noe, who had not scored more than 17 points in a game in his career, went for 32 to help the Tigers get the win. Ty Scheler added 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Cheraw had a top-ten showdown with 2A #2 Crowley County, and things did not go well for the Wolverines. The Chargers hit a dozen three-pointers and ran away with a 71-38 victory, ending a modest two-game winning streak for Cheraw.
Fleming backed up the title in its own tournament from last weekend by beating Lone Star 49-37 on Tuesday. The Wildcats have won four straight.
Only two games were scheduled for Wednesday, and snow caused one, Arickaree at Peetz, to be postponed. That left Denver Jewish Day, hosting 3A SkyView Academy, as the lone competition on the day. The Tigers overcame a slow start to pick up a 51-45 victory. Foonberg was limited to four points and seven rebounds, but Ilan Schlagel and Keenan Winnerman stepped up to score 18 and 13 points, respectively. Zimmerman tallied 14 points.
Belleview Christian visits Denver Waldorf, and the Bruins will look to improve to 10-0 against a league opponent. Belleview has outscored opponents 629-320 on the season, with the duo of N. Owen (25.3 ppg) and Ewing (12.8 ppg) recording just over half of the points.
The Spartans have won three straight, including a 43-34 decision over the Denver Academy of Torah on Tuesday. Neo Moss (16 points) and Cayden Quinn (15 points) combined for all but 12 points in that victory. For Quinn, that was almost right on his average, as the freshman leads the team at 16.2 ppg. Neither team has won consecutive games in the last seven meetings, with the last winning streak belonging to the Spartans, who won three straight between 2015 and 2016. They won last year’s contest, 42-39. Owen had 23 points in the loss.
Denver Jewish Day will be playing for the third time in as many nights, as the Tigers travel to Prairie for a non-league tilt. The Mustangs dropped their final four games of 2022 and they’re entering a stretch of four straight against opponents with winning records. They’re led by senior Brock Dollerschell, who scores just under 15 points a game. The next three on the team combine for right at 16 a night.
The 5280 has another top team in action, as Flatirons Academy opens league play at home against Front Range Baptist, looking to pick up a win in its first game of 2023. The Bison were tied Belleview Christian heading into the fourth quarter of their non-league contest right before the break, but were outscored 23-9 to fall 58-44. Five players score between 7.7 and 13.3 points a game, led by Josh Durrill at the high end of that range. Nolan Sheppard and Pistol Chavez both average just over 11 ppg.
It’s been a season of little streaks for the Falcons, who have won two straight, lost two straight, and are currently on a two-game winning spurt. Both of those wins have come over Lone Star, the last by a count of 64-37 last week. Matthew VanDerBerghe matched a season-high with 17 points in that contest. He averages a team-leading 13.2 ppg for the Falcons, who have lost three straight to Flatirons Academy.
The defending state champs, McClave, hosts Springfield in a non-league affair in the southeast corner of the state. The Cards are coming off a 53-45 loss at 2A Simla last Saturday. Aydin Gomez had 18 points, and Aiden Martinez added 13 points and 16 rebounds in that loss that snapped a four-game winning streak. Just prior to that defeat, McClave had held off Cheyenne Wells, 53-43.
Springfield has not lost consecutive games this season, but the Longhorns enter this contest having dropped a 49-30 decision to Cheyenne Wells last Saturday. The Longhorns failed to score double figures in any of the first three quarters and trailed by 17 going into the fourth of that contest. They will be looking to avoid losing a third straight non-league meeting against the Cards, who won last year’s game 79-39.
Briggsdale puts its four-game winning streak to begin the season on the line when the Falcons host 2A Akron. The Falcons won a shootout at Stratton last Saturday, 75-68, with the trio of Tanner Fiscus (25 points), John Krise (21 points), and Zach Bauer (16 points) each going for double digits. Krise added 11 rebounds, and Fiscus handed out 13 assists, to give both a double-double.
After opening the season with consecutive losses, Akron has gone 3-2, alternating wins and losses. The Rams beat Sedgwick County 40-29 last week. It was the fifth time in seven games that the Rams failed to score at least 50 points this season.
Friday’s schedule might be lacking in contests between top teams, but it does have a number of important league games on the slate. In the San Juan Basin, Dove Creek opens league play against Nucla. Dove Creek won its last three games of 2022, including a non-league 49-32 decision over the Mustangs. Kade Hankins posted a strong night of 20 points, eight rebounds, and six steals in that victory, and the senior is averaging a team-leading 18.5 ppg.
Nucla already owns a league win after bouncing Ouray 66-45 last Saturday. The Mustangs only led 36-32 at the half, but the defense put the clamps on the Trojans after the break to pull away for the lopsided victory. The win stopped a two-game skid that included a 55-53 non-league loss to DeBeque the night before. The loss to Dove Creek in December was the seventh straight for the Mustangs, and 13th in the last 14 meetings.
Wiley has won three straight after Tuesday’s 64-24 victory over Granada in non-league play. The Panthers hosts an opponent out of Kansas on Thursday and they were heavily favored in that match-up. Friday has another non-league affair on tap for the Panthers, who host Kit Carson. Wiley has won the last two games against the Wildcats, but are just 4-19 in the series during the MaxPreps era.
Big RPI points will be at stake when Fleming hosts Stratton in non-league play. Both are in the top-10 of that metric, and they sit ninth and tenth, respectively, in the Seeding Index. Stratton got 26 points from Cyler Notter in the loss to Briggsdale, and prior to the loss to Cheyenne Wells on Tuesday, the junior was averaging 16 a game. Kolten Houser is coming off a 15 point, 10 rebound double-double against Lone Star for Fleming.
In the Akron tournament, Otis eked out a 58-53 victory over Idalia. They’ll meet in Idalia on Friday, with the winner improving to 2-0 in the YWKC league. The Bulldogs broke a two-game losing streak with a 57-16 victory over Bethune in the league opener last Friday. Otis held the Bobcats to just 11% from the floor in that contest. Idalia has won three straight and four of five, including last Saturday’s 61-54 overtime victory over Hi-Plains in their league opener. Kale Morris is on a hot streak, as the junior scored 29 in a win over St. Francis on Friday and 25 against Hi-Plains, including the three to send it to OT, and the eventual game-winner in the extra session. The Wolves have scored at least 60 in each of their last five games.
Genoa-Hugo suffered its first loss of the season in its Union Pacific opener against 2A #1 Limon (54-39), but the Pirates bounced back to drill 2A Calhan 55-27 last Saturday. Trey Smith, who was held to a season-low 11 by Limon, has scored at least 20 points in every other contest. He had 24 against Calhan. The Pirates host 2A Byers in league play on Friday, needing a win to keep pressure on Limon.
Only one of the top match-ups on Saturday will count in league standings, as Fleming hosts Prairie. With Briggsdale also in the North Central, neither team can really afford to lose this contest, and with that added to a heated series, the play should be intense. Fleming has won two of the last three meetings, but the Mustangs had won four straight prior to that. Overall, the Wildcats own a 19-13 lead in the MaxPreps era.
Some of the big non-league contests have Flatirons Academy hosting one of the top 2A teams, Evangelical Christian, who had made multiple state tournament appearances in 1A before being pushed up to 2A because of realignment. Those teams head into Thursday with a combined record of 12-1.
Belleview Christian also steps up to face a tough challenger from a bigger classification, with the Bruins visiting 3A Peyton. The Panthers are just 5-4 on the season, but they are 16th in the 3A Seeding Index.
Genoa-Hugo will visit 2A Merino, while Idalia squares off with 2A Wiggins. Inside the classification, Cheraw visiting Sierra Grande looks to be one of the better non-league affairs. The Panthers have dropped two of their last three, but both were against top teams in 2A, Crowley County and ECA.
Looking ahead to next week, Belleview Christian hosting Front Range Baptist in 5280 league play is the featured match-up. Depending upon how things go leading up to that game, it could potentially be for a share of the league lead. The Falcons have quite a bit of work to do before that, and the schedule for the Bruins isn’t exactly easy.