All games scheduled for Thursday night. All statistics courtesy of maxpreps.com.
No. 4 ThunderRidge (11-2) at No. 1 Cherry Creek (17-0), 6 p.m.; No. 7 George Washington (12-3) at No. 3 Rangeview (16-0), 6 p.m.
Favorite — Cherry Creek: After going wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in football last fall, Creek is looking to do the same on the hardwood. CU commit Julian Hammond III (22.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.8 apg), the starting QB for football’s back-to-back 5A title runs, is among the best guards in the state. And the Bruins have three FBS football commits — Myles Purchase (Iowa State), Chase Penry (CU) and Arden Walker (Missouri) — in key roles.
Challenger — Rangeview: Senior guard Cade Palmer (16.3 ppg, 6.9 apg) may be the last significant contributor from the Raiders’ 2019 title run, but it’s clear the Rangers haven’t forgotten how to win. Rangeview, which may very well be going for a three-peat if not for COVID-19, enters Thursday night’s game riding a 61-game win streak.
Dark horses — ThunderRidge: The Grizzlies have overcome injuries and a COVID pause to make their fourth Final Four trip in five seasons. The three previous visits ended in semifinal losses. George Washington: The Patriots are back in the Final Four after a two-season absence, with a deep senior class led by 6-foot-5 Jarmell Johnson (18.1 ppg, 2.4 spg) more than capable of making noise.
No. 9 Pueblo South (15-2) at No. 5 Mead (13-3), 6 p.m.; No. 3 Montrose (17-0) at No. 2 Longmont (13-3), 7 p.m.
Favorite — Mead: The preseason No. 1 ended February with a hiccup, losing three in a row to Windsor, Longmont and Holy Family. The Mavericks have won seven straight since, with guard Elijah Knudsen (18.9 ppg, 3.3 apg), 6-9 post James Shiers (11.5 ppg, 4.1 bpg) and guard Nick Basson (10.8 ppg) looking to finish what last year’s 25-1 club started.
Challengers — Longmont: The Trojans have reached the 4A title game two of the past three years, with the tandem of 6-9 post Eddie Kurjak (18.7 ppg, 8.9 prg) and guard Keegan Patterson (13.6 ppg, 2.3 apg) more than capable leading them to a third trip. Montrose: The lone undefeated team in the bracket survived a scare against Green Mountain in the Sweet 16 (54-52). A group of four juniors, led by 6-2 forward Luke Hutto (15.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg), all average at least 9.4 ppg.
Dark horse — Pueblo South: The Colts just blew the doors off top-seeded Windsor (86-70) in the Great 8, one round after Tarrance Austin banked in a miraculous running 3-pointer at the final buzzer to take down Erie. The 5-11 junior guard is a problem (24.0 ppg, 3.9 spg, 3.7 apg), and one of four Colts averaging double-figure scoring.
No. 4 Manitou Springs (15-1) at No. 1 St. Mary’s (15-0), 7 p.m.; No. 3 Sterling (15-1) at No. 2 Lutheran (14-1), 7 p.m.
Favorite — Lutheran: When in doubt, pick the team with the nationally ranked 6-11 wunderkind starting in the post — Baye Fall. The sophomore has spectacular numbers (22.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.1 bpg), but he’s hardly alone. Sophomore guard Brendan Kooienga (12.5 ppg) and seniors Mamadou Sow (11.7), Sam Hoops (10.3), Niklas Skirmants (9.1) and Tommy Apodaca (8.8) form a deep and talented rotation.
Challenger — St. Mary’s: Armed with one of the most explosive offenses in the state (91.1 ppg), the Pirates can light up a scoreboard. Junior guard Sam Howery is nearly averaging a triple-double (21.7 ppg, 10.7 apg, 8.1 rpg), while forward Luke Stockleman (20.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is one of five other Pirates putting up 9.9 ppg or better.
Dark horse — Sterling: After dropping their season opener, the Tigers have won 15 in a row, including a 54-52 nailbiter over Aspen in the Great 8. Manitou Springs: The Mustangs have been dominant against everyone but St. Mary’s, which beat them 83-62 in their regular-season finale.
No. 4 Highlands Ranch (14-2) at No. 1 Valor Christian (15-0), 6 p.m.; No. 3 Grandview (17-0) at No. 2 Regis Jesuit (14-1), 5:30 p.m.
Favorite — Grandview: Led by a front line that boasts two Division-I commits in 6-7 Lauren Betts (Stanford) and 6-3 Addison O’Grady (Iowa) and junior sharpshooter Marya Hudgins (13.9 ppg, 32% from 3), the Wolves have size, skill and plenty of depth. The closest any team has come to challenging Grandview this season: 16- and 15-point losses by 4A power Mullen.
Challenger — Valor Christian: Even with 6-3 post Raegan Beers out for the season, the Eagles haven’t skipped a beat. The Huard sisters, senior Haley (13.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and sophomore Macey (10.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), have had a lot to do with that, as has CU commit Kindyll Wetta (10.4 ppg, 8.5 apg) — the steady hand running the show.
Dark horses — Regis Jesuit: The Raiders have played two of the other three Final Four teams, losing big to Valor (67-45) and slipping past HR (58-53). Washington commit Avery VanSickle (13.7 ppg, 2.7 apg) and forward Samantha Jones (12.8 ppg, 2.1 apg) are playing in their fourth state tourney. Highlands Ranch: The defensive showing against Ralston Valley (46-30) in the Great 8 was impressive, but the Falcons have losses to Valor (65-52) and Regis.
No. 4 Mullen (15-2) at No. 1 Holy Family (13-1), 4:30 p.m.; No. 3 Windsor (15-1) at No. 2 Green Mountain (17-0), 6 p.m.
Favorite — Mullen: Don’t let the four seed fool you. The Mustangs haven’t lost a 4A state playoff game in three seasons and nearly all of the key pieces from those tournament runs remain. Junior forward Gracie Gallegos (16.4 ppg) has grown into an elite scorer, and 5-3 senior point guard Megan Pohs (11.9 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.0 spg) is unflappable.
Challengers — Green Mountain: A Final Four participant a year ago, the Rams had 16 straight double-digit wins before beating Erie 58-50 in the Great 8. Sophomore guard Jayda Maves (18.3 ppg) is a sniper from 3 (42%) and forwards Courtney Hank (12.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Avery Oaster (12.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg) lead a talented front court. Holy Family: A year after being denied a shot at Mullen in the 4A title game, the Tigers are back in the Final Four thanks to senior playmakers Alyssa Wells (14.7 ppg, 5.5 spg, 3.6 apg), Tyler Whitlock (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.8 apg) and Dylan Sanders (6.1 ppg, 4.2 apg).
Dark horse — Windsor: An overtime loss to Holy Family (65-63) showed the Wizards can hang with the best, and a 75-35 drubbing of sixth-seeded George Washington in the Great 8 showed they can even run them off the floor. Senior guard Kylie Sanger (16.0 ppg, 38% from 3) is a threat from all over the floor.
No. 4 Lutheran (14-1) at No. 1 The Vanguard School (15-0), 7 p.m.; No. 3 Platte Valley (14-1) at No. 7 University (12-4), 6 p.m.
Favorite — The Vanguard School: Back in the Final Four for a second straight year, the Coursers feature a gifted inside-out sophomore tandem in guard Juliana Garcia (17.3 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.9 spg) and 6-foot forward Ramiyah Byrd (14.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg). Outside of a 62-58 win over Centauri, the Coursers haven’t been touched.
Challengers — Platte Valley: A tough loss to The Vanguard School (58-37) is the lone setback on the Broncos’ resume — and that came in the Broncos’ third game of the season. Lutheran: The Lions are unbeaten against 3A teams this season, with four-year varsity guard Stephanie Schultz (18.3 ppg, 3.5 spg, 2.6 apg) the team leader and 5-10 sophomore forward Raelyn Kelty (12.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg 4.3 apg) on the rise.
Dark horse — University: After a 1-3 start to the season, the Bulldogs have won 11 of 12, with the lone loss coming at Platte Valley. They also gave another Final Four team, Lutheran, all it could handle (36-35) in an early season defeat.
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