CLASS 1A BOYS BASKETBALL REGIONAL PREVIEW – THURSDAY
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
With district tournaments now in the past, the focus shifts to this weekend’s regional games. Only one bracket gets underway today, with action taking place in Region 5, hosted by #2 Denver Jewish Day.
The Tigers (17-3) won the District 8 title on Saturday by beating #1 Belleview Christian 57-49. In collecting their second straight district crown, DJD also avenged a 58-50 regular season loss against the Bruins. Gavin Foonberg connected on eight of 12 three-point attempts in the district championship victory, scoring a game-high 32 points, while also adding six rebounds and five assists. The senior went over the 1000 career point mark earlier in the D8 tournament and he’s just 30 assists shy of 500 in his career. He would need to average six a game the rest of the way, and have the Tigers reach Saturday at the state tournament, to eclipse that career milestone.
Foonberg overtook Andrew Zimmerman for the scoring lead on the team, 19.0 points to 18.1 ppg. Ilan Schlagel gives the Tigers three players in double figures, checking in at 11.5 a contest, and Keenan Winnerman nearly makes it four, as he averages 9.6 a night.
Tasked with facing the hosts on Thursday is #31 Hi-Plains (7-12) who had a short run in the District 5 tournament. The Patriots entered as the #5 seed and were dispatched by Idalia 61-46 in the quarterfinals. Bex Seaman led them with 22 points in the contest. The junior averages 13.1 ppg, which is second on the team to his older brother, Cooper, who is at 14.4 ppg. They’re the only two on the team in double figures, but Merit Ruddell (7.3) and Aiden Cordell (6.1) have shown that they are also capable of going for big totals during the season.
The tournament loss broke a modest two-game winning streak for the Patriots, who are 3-2 in their last five. Denver Jewish Day has won three straight and is 4-1 in its last five. The two teams have not met during the MaxPreps era.
The other semifinal has #15 Eads (10-10) facing #18 La Veta (13-8). Eads was bounced in the quarterfinals of the District 2 tourney, 50-47, to Granada. The Eagles held a 12-point lead at one stage in that defeat, but the Bobcats came back sent the Eagles packing for a second time in a matter of days. Connor Wollert tallied 19 points and seven rebounds for Eads, and Porter Spady added 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. That duo combines for more than 23 points a game, with Brentley Lening adding another 11 points.
La Veta had a seven-game winning streak broken by Springfield in the District 3 title game last Friday. The Redhawks held an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter of that contest, but they watched as Springfield rallied to tie the game at 48 with only a few seconds to play. After forcing a wild jumper and grabbing the miss, the Redhawks had their outlet pass deflected to an open Longhorn under the bucket, who buried the game-winner just ahead of the horn. Jeremiah Rodriguez connected on five of seven three-pointers to score a game-high 17 points, and Trey Medina added 13 points. Medina is one of three Redhawks in double figures on the season, averaging 10.2 a game. JJ Autry (17.7) and Race Lessar (12.8) lead the team. For Rodriguez, his outburst was more than three times his season average of 4.8 ppg, and established a new career-high.
This will be the first meeting between the two programs since MaxPreps began recording results in 2004.