The Denver Post
Hat tips to top performers in state tournament
With the conclusion of the 2023 CHSAA state basketball tournament, here’s hat tips to top performers in Class 4A, 5A and 6A over the past couple weekends at the Denver Coliseum.
RUDY CAREY >> The Colorado basketball coaching GOAT glitzed his resume Saturday as Denver East boat-raced Fossil Ridge in the Class 6A title game. A few months after breaking Dick Katte’s all-time wins mark, Carey made history again, with his record 10th state title. With the record book on lockdown, will the 69-year-old return? He’s at 897 career wins. Maybe Carey wants 900.
FOSSIL RIDGE’S SILVER LIN
INGS >> The Sabercats, who whipped the Angels 63- 40 Dec. 2, were on the wrong end of a blowout in Saturday’s 82-61 loss to East. But that doesn’t take the shine off the powerhouse that coach Matt Johannsen has built up north, plus the tremendous prep career of star senior Nick Randall. The big man is a big reason why the Sabercats made two title games in a row, and on Saturday against East, he dropped 26 points.
FIRST-YEAR CLASS 5A
COACHES >> Both 5A title teams were led by firstyear bosses. Roosevelt’s Enoch Miller, possibly the most energetic coach in the whole tournament, spent seven years as the Frederick boys coach before his wife’s battle with COVID last year forced him to step away. He landed in a sweet spot with the talented Rough Rider girls. Same goes for Mesa Ridge’s Joel Babbitt, who was an assistant at Lewis-palmer and Palmer Ridge but had never been a head coach before leading the Grizzlies to an undefeated season.
THE TOUGH RIDERS >> Something’s afoot in Johnstown. After the football team won the school’s first state title in the fall, the Rough Rider girls won the school’s first hoops title by suffocating teams with their fullcourt press. Miller’s squad, which doesn’t feature a single senior, wears teams down with its toughness, physicality and pressure. In Saturday’s title game against Windsor, Roosevelt pulled away in the second half while using a halfcourt zone.
THE SIENNA FACTOR >>
Grandview looked vulnerable across its nine defeats this year, but the one constant remained sophomore forward Sienna Betts. She’s not just Lauren’s younger sister anymore. She’s a star in her own right, and polished off an impressive state tournament performance with a 20-point, 20-rebound double-double in the Wolves’ 38-28 win over Monarch in the 6A championship. It marked Grandview’s fourth title and second straight.
HOLY FAMILY DOUBLE-DIP >>
The Tigers pulled off the rare boys/girls crowns Saturday in the 4A brackets. First, the top-seeded Holy Family girls beat previously undefeated D’evelyn, notching coach Ron Rossi his record-tying seventh state title. Then, the Tiger boys beat Resurrection Christian as coach Peter Villecco overcame 11 regular-season losses and the No. 17 seed in the tourney.
DOUBLE BONUS >> Away from the big-school festivities, little Denver Jewish Day claimed its first state championship with a 5542 victory over Belleview Christian in the Class 1A boys title game in Loveland. The Tigers won four of their five tournament games by double-digits and finished the season 22-3.