January 15, 2014

Mid-Season Recap of 4A Colorado High School Basketball Season

The Colorado high school basketball season is at the midway mark as conference play is beginning around the state. Colorado has an unusually high number of star players right now by the state's standards and Division 1 recruits like Chase Foster, Dylan Clark, Ghassan Nehme, Ibrahim Sylla and others lead some of the strongest teams. Here is a mid-season recap of Class 4A Colorado High School Basketball for the 2013-14 season.
Class 4A Mid-Season Rankings

1. Valor Christian-The Eagles, coming off a state title game appearance last season, look primed for another run to the 4A state title game. Chase Foster, a San Francisco signee who is an athletic wing with scoring ability, is one of the top few players in 4A. Foster, Stanford football recruit Christian McCaffrey, and knockdown shooter Garrett Baggett form a core that can match anyone's in the classification. Valor Christian, an independent team in 4A, is 10-3, 9-0 in-state and will face Sand Creek, D'Evelyn, Cheyenne Mountain, and 5A Rangeview in matchups that will make the Eagles battled tested before the playoffs. Valor has the athleticism, shooting ability, talent, and coaching to claim the state title.



2. Sand Creek-Air Force recruit Dylan Clark is a dynamic point guard who is averaging 24.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game. He is an efficient scorer and a great passer. Langston Bell is a good complimentary guard to Clark and the Pasley brothers, Nick and Jason, are very solid. Jason Pasley, a 6'4 big, is averaging 2.1 blocks and has proven to be an effective rim protector that helps Sand Creek's defense immensely. Sand Creek plays Air Academy twice, Cheyenne Mountain twice, Falcon twice, and Valor Christian once before the playoffs. This brutal onslaught should prepare them for what could be a run to Boulder for the Final Four.

3. Thompson Valley-The Eagles have gotten off to a 9-1 start with their loss to one of 5A's top flight teams, Fossil Ridge. They don't have any big time individual standouts, but are a senior laden bunch that plays very well together and knows where each other will be on the court. Thompson Valley has excellent ball movement and spaces the floor well for their several shooters. 6'5 F Collin Smith is a matchup problem because of his shooting ability (19.3 points per game). He is also a solid defender. Point guard Grant Rohrbouck has a high basketball IQ and is a floor general who is averaging 14.5 points and shooting 46% from three. The Eagles play with confidence and composure and make the most of their talent.

4. Pueblo South-The Colts have played tough defense night in and night out and have an 8-2 record with a win over Air Academy. Pueblo South has held their opponents to only 52.4 points per contest and their defense has led the way to an impressive turnaround season after a 10-15 record in 2012-13. They have also claimed eight consecutive victories after a close loss to Sand Creek and a loss to 5A Standley Lake in early December. The Pueblo South girls basketball team won the state title last season. The boys want to do the same this year.

5. Thomas Jefferson-Thomas Jefferson has as talented a roster as any in 4A, but have struggled a bit lately with close losses to 5A teams Highlands Ranch, Aurora Central, and Rock Canyon. Their offense has stalled recently, but they have too much talent to not be a factor in this classification and are 7-3 after an Elite 8 appearance in 2012-13. Treyvon Andres and Josh McNair are as athletic and talented a duo as there is in the classification and Domenik Brewer and Sergio Garcia form a steady backcourt. Henry Cooper is a sophomore sharpshooting guard that could be a potential prospect one day. The Spartans once again have the talent to make serious noise in the tourney, but will need to develop the chemistry to be a serious contender.

6. Air Academy-The Kadets boast a go to player in David Louthan, a trademark of contending teams. Louthan, a junior guard, is averaging 16.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3 steals, and is shooting a very impressive 55% from the field and 45% from the three-point line. They also have balance with four players scoring between 10 points and 7.5 points per game. Air Academy is shooting 51% from the field and are 9-2 with back to back wins over Falcon and Cheyenne Mountain, fellow contenders in the traditionally tough Pikes Peak League. They play at Sand Creek on Friday evening in what could be a game that decides the Pikes Peak League champion.

7. D'Evelyn-6'4 swingman Ty McGee is the backbone of a Jaguars program that had to replace a 27 point per game scorer in Luke Stratman but has hummed along to the tune of 7-2 with four straight victories. McGee was a solid role player as a junior and averaged 7.3 points last season, but has transformed into a star this season as the fifth leading scorer in 5A at 21.2, including a 40 point game against rival Golden. McGee signed with D2 Colorado Christian and is an athletic player who can take over a game. Grant Witherspoon is a 6'3 shooting guard who fills up a box score. Witherspoon is a likely Division 2 prospect and is averaging 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 3.8 steals. A good sign for the Jaguars is that Witherspoon, who started only 1-26 from 3 this season, is finally finding the shooting stroke he was known for last season. He has made 9-12 three-pointers in the last three contests and has provided a spark for an improving offense. D'Evelyn appears to be the Jeffco favorites after a 68-50 beatdown of Golden last week after losing to them by 10 a month ago.

8. Denver South-Northern Colorado recruit Ibrahim Sylla is a 6'8 freakish athlete with enormous length. He is a dominant force as a rim protector and is very active on the glass at both ends of the court. Sylla is quite a physical specimen and is averaging 13.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, and shooting 64% from the field. Sylla anchors a big, athletic defense that has started to develop more chemistry in recent weeks and shown the makings of a top 10 team. 6'5 Lorenzo Snoddy is averaging 13.5 points and a calm, confident guard who has a high basketball IQ, Tyson Purifoy, is chipping in 12.6 points and 2.9 steals. Antonio Garcia is one of the smallest point guards in the state, but is a hard nosed floor general with quickness and playmaking skills. The Rebels have momentum going into a heated rivalry matchup with Thomas Jefferson at home Wednesday night after taking down Pueblo East on the road last Friday.

9. Pueblo East-The Eagles, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, are another senior filled team with a tough defense and great team chemistry. Dylan Gavin has quietly had a big senior season with 18.9 points per game as a 6'3 forward who knows how to score and regularly gets to the charity stripe. Gavin and 6'4 Center Jimmy Valdez man the post for this slightly undersized but physical team. Valdez is averaging 12.9 points and is a good rebounder. Guard TJ Gradisar is very solid. Pueblo East has a balanced lineup and play several guys off the bench. They don't have top flight 4A talent, but they understand their roles and they play really well together. They are in the same mold as Thompson Valley.

10. Longmont-The Trojans are the biggest challengers to Thompson Valley for the Northern Conference crown. This young team is led by a senior guard, Austin Kemp, who is one of the premier dribble drive guards in the state. He is an excellent finisher who recently returned from injury and has been an enormous boost to Longmont's lineup. Kemp is a likely Division 2 prospect. Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup started as a freshman last season, alongside fellow freshman Kevin Mitchell, and both have showed development this season. Jessup is averaging 16.2 points and 2.7 steals per game and is shooting 62% from the field, 42% from three, and 80% at the free-throw line. He is underrated statewide, but is quietly a very good sophomore who could be a prospect one day. Kevin Mitchell is an athletic forward who is averaging 10.7 points per contest. In total, Longmont has seven sophomores on the varsity and could be one of the top Final Four contenders next season. They are already a tough out for anyone in 4A.
Honorable Mention: Palmer Ridge, Cheyenne Mountain, Falcon, Golden

Conference Breakdowns:

Colorado Springs Metro
Top Contenders: Mesa Ridge, Mitchell, Harrison
MVP of the Conference thus far: Quincy Harding of Harrison

Jeffco
Top Contenders: D'Evelyn, Golden
MVP of the Conference thus far: Ty McGee of D'Evelyn

Northern
Top Contenders: Longmont, Thompson Valley
MVP of the Conference thus far: Collin Smith of Thompson Valley

Pikes Peak
Top Contenders: Sand Creek, Cheyenne Mountain, Falcon, Lewis-Palmer
MVP of the Conference thus far: Dylan Clark of Sand Creek

South Central
Top Contenders: Pueblo East, Pueblo South, Pueblo Central
MVP of the Conference thus far: Dylan Gavin of Pueblo East

Tri-Valley
Top Contenders: Windsor, Mead, Frederick, Erie
MVP of the Conference thus far: Dylan Brink of Erie

Western Slope
Top Contenders: Delta, Glenwood Springs, Palisade, Steamboat Springs
MVP of the Conference thus far: Cameron Horning of Glenwood Springs

4A/3A Colorado 7
Top Contenders: Vista Peak PREP, Elizabeth
MVP of the Conference thus far: Romello Washington of Vista Peak PREP

Stat Leaders in 4A:

Points:
24.8 Dylan Clark of Sand Creek
23.7 Jake Gavitt of Elizabeth
23.0 Ghassan Nehme of Cheyenne Mountain
21.8 Chase Foster of Valor Christian
21.2 Quincy Harding of Harrison
21.2 Ty McGee of D'Evelyn

Rebounds:
13.3 Ibrahim Sylla of Denver South
12.0 Eian Baier of Delta
11.0 Jerrod Klug of Mountain View
10.4 Jason Barraza of Northridge
9.8 Treyvon Andres of Thomas Jefferson

Assists:
6.3 Eric Machmuller of Silver Creek
5.8 Jared Gambrel of Glenwood Springs
5.8 Dylan Clark of Sand Creek
5.7 Mikail Lowney of Frederick
5.6 Grant Witherspoon of D'Evelyn

Steals:
4.9 Cameron Horning of Glenwood Springs
4.2 Ghassan Nehme of Cheyenne Mountain
3.8 Grant Witherspoon of D'Evelyn
3.6 Kyle Leahy of Erie
3.5 Paul Fertig of Air Academy

Blocks:
3.4 Omar Rivera of Roosevelt
3.4 Ibrahim Sylla of Denver South
3.2 Blake Goodwin of Mead
3.1 Treyvon Andres of Thomas Jefferson
3.0 Garrett Bye of Steamboat Springs

Mid-Season All-State for 4A:

First Team
G Dylan Clark of Sand Creek
G/F Ty McGee of D'Evelyn
F Chase Foster of Valor Christian
F Ibrahim Sylla of Denver South
F Treyvon Andres of Thomas Jefferson

Second Team
G Ghassan Nehme of Cheyenne Mountain
F Jake Gavitt of Elizabeth
F Collin Smith of Thompson Valley
F Dylan Gavin of Pueblo East
F Matt Cameron of Palmer Ridge



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