Prep basketball playoff capsules
Frederick’s Luke Justice nearly fell into his own bench on the back of his buzzer-beater in Saturday’s Class 5A round of 16win over Harrison.
He had the school’s student broadcast team falling over themselves, too.
“Swift” Justice hauled in a long heave from the baseline near the other perimeter and released a wild shot at the horn against the sideline and a pair of defenders.
First, he stumbled back into his bench because there wasn’t ample room to land inbounds.
Then, he strutted forward, like a fan-favorite coming out of the smoke in his professional wrestling entrance. He’d barely moved the net on his make. “That was unexpected,” one member of the broadcast team can be heard exclaiming on the video put out by the Golden Eagle Broadcast Network. Perfectly put.
Because for Justice and the marvel that is Frederick’s basketball team, the unexpected has become the only thing to expect. What now is left? Heading to the Denver Coliseum, the Golden Eagles lead seven local boys’ and girls’ teams into the state quarterfinals. Here is a quick breakdown on each team.
Class 6A (girls)
No. 4 Monarch Coyotes
Who is next: No. 12 Regis Jesuit, Saturday at 8:45 a.m.
How they got here: The Coyotes have lost just once this season, to these Raiders back in December. Outside of that, the Coyotes have been as unstoppable as they are balanced on the court, touting at least five players who can lead them in points on any given night. One of those being reigning Bocopreps.com player of the year Natalie Guanella, who may be the best point guard in the state. In the round of 16, Amelia Rosin had 14 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks in the 5448win over No. 13Ralston Valley. Guanella and Arezo Safi added 13, Hayley Luther 12.
Class 5A (boys)
No. 4 Mead Mavericks
Who is next: No. 5 Frederick, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. How they got here: Dominic Mclawrence didn’t seem fazed by an obnoxious traveling student section that razzed him in the round of 16, posting 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting in a 69-57 win over No. 13 Ponderosa. “When I’m in that mindset where no one could stop me, no one can stop me,” he said afterward. With him, 5A player of the year candidate Tucker Mills and two-way sensation Nick Basson leading the charge, the Mavs hope they can keep that mentality for three more games.
No. 5 Frederick Golden Eagles
Who is next: No. 4 Mead, Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
How they got here: Justice had his fifth 30-point game of the winter, putting up 32 on 11-of-20 shooting in an 84-67 win over No. 21 Harrison in the round of 16. The Golden Eagles have dominated teams most of the season, sporting just one loss against Riverdale Ridge earlier in the month. They beat the Mavericks by six in the season opener back in November.
No. 11 Longmont Trojans
Who is next: No. 3 Windsor, Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
How they got here: The Trojans, on paper, didn’t much sound like a team destined for the quarterfinals. They’d lost their starting point guard and big man for the season. Not to mention their two standouts in Keegan Patterson and Brendan Barcewski from a year ago. But coach Jeff Kloster is putting on another clinic as one of the best coaches in the state. In the round of 16, Reese Pearson had 16 points, Conner Dickey 15 and Cole Corner 11 as they beat No. 6 Lewis-palmer, 53-48.
Class 5A (girls)
No. 5 Mead Mavericks
Who is next: No. 4 Windsor, Thursday at 7 p.m.
How they got here: Kyra Haan had a career-high 29 points in the round of 16 as the Mavs beat a school that sounds like it’s yelling at you, Vista PEAK Prep, 7953. Under first-year coach Michael Ward, the Mavs have proven they can beat you in the 70s as much as they can win a game decided in the 30s or 40s. In the Wizards, they get a league team they split the season series with, beating them 71-70in overtime Feb. 15. Windsor knocked Mead out of the semifinals last year.
Class 4A (boys)
No. 17 Holy Family Tigers
Who is next: No. 8Colorado Academy, Friday at 5:30 p.m.
How they got here: The Tigers outscored No. 1 Kent Denver 48-14 in the second half, beating the Sun Devils 80-53 in the round of 16. Not your usual No. 17 seed, to say the least. Holy Family played in perhaps the best 5A league in the state, the NCAC, and struggled to find wins down the stretch in the regular season. But through two rounds in the postseason, it has proven, if anything, that’s made the Tigers battle tested. Rocco Bridges had 20 points on 13 shots in the win over Kent Denver.
Class 4A (girls)
No. 1 Holy Family Tigers
Who is next: No. 8 Delta, Friday at 7 p.m.
How they got here: Despite an outbreak of concussions, for one. The Tigers, though, are finally all getting healthy for their upcoming run at the Coliseum. Essynce Contreraz returned to the lineup Friday after missing two weeks, hitting four 3s in their 41-25 win over No. 17TCA. Freshman Gracie Ward scored seven of her 10points in the fourth quarter. Holy Family is in its fifth straight quarterfinal.