The final two-plus weeks of the regular season in the Continental League is must-see basketball at its finest.
The top three teams in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll all reside in the Continental, and all three teams will be playing each other in February. Top-ranked and undefeated Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch)
goes on the road to face No. 3 Chaparral (Parker)
on Feb. 2, and closes the regular season at No. 2 ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch)
. Chaparral draws the Grizzlies just four days after tangling with the Jaguars.
Between those games and a top-five Denver Prep League clash Feb. 17 between George Washington (Denver)
and Denver East
, it won't be easy for teams to catch their collective breath before the postseason begins. But it certainly makes it easy to be a fan.
With that in mind, here are 10 games to keep an eye on in the coming weeks across the state's five classifications:Class 5A
• Rock Canyon (16-0) at Chaparral (15-3), 7 p.m., Feb. 2
You could make an argument that any of the aforementioned Continental League games could merit this spot, but the Wolverines have proven to be one of the state's most dangerous teams. Chaparral defeated ThunderRidge in a tournament in December and also owns a victory against Denver East. The team's closest margin of victory in five league games was 14 points against Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch), and junior Ronnie Degray III
leads three players scoring in double figures with 18.9 points a game.
Rock Canyon has handled its business, both in-state and in out-of-state tournaments. Sam Masten
is one of the state's elite talents, averaging 22 points a game, and Tyson Gilbert
is adding a little more than 15 of his own.• Grandview (Aurora) (13-4) at Overland (Aurora) (10-7), 3 p.m., Feb. 10
Overland dropped its first five games of the season and seven of eight overall, but it's easy to forget the brutality of the team's early schedule. The Trailblazers are now one of the state's hottest teams, winners of nine in a row. That included a one-point victory over Grandview Jan. 17 in the teams' first Centennial League meeting. Daijon Smith
and Tucson Redding
are each averaging right around 15 points.
Grandview has dropped three of five in the Centennial, including a loss to Smoky Hill on Friday night. Junior Dayne Prim
averages 13.4 points a game for the Wolves.• George Washington (13-5) at Denver East (14-2), 1 p.m., Feb. 17
This Denver Prep matchup rarely disappoints, and with both teams ranked in the top five, the 2018 version should be entertaining. Since a five-point loss to Chaparral to start January, East has averaged 83 points in five victories. Daylen Kountz
(22.9 points) and Kwane Marble
(17.3) are a great 1-2 punch.
George Washington lost to ThunderRidge the same night East fell to Chaparral, and the Patriots have also been rolling since that game. That includes victories against top-10 teams in Chaparral and Regis Jesuit (Aurora). Seniors Jon'il Fugett
, Xavier Cooper
and Mohammed Diallo
each are averaging double figures in points.
• Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch) (10-6) at Golden (14-3), 7 p.m., Feb. 2
Rematches are in store for a number of top teams in 4A, and this Jeffco bout was great the first time around. Valor Christian withstood a Demons comeback for the 56-53 victory, but Golden has been on a tear ever since. Golden withstood its own rally to hold off Evergreen by one point, then rolled past D'Evelyn (Denver) behind a big performance from Adam Thistlewood
Valor's January has been one to remember. The Eagles have looked like a different team, winning four close league contests in a row. Jeremy Randle
and Hunter Shkapich
continue to guide the defending state champions on offense.• Pueblo West (12-4) vs. Pueblo South (14-2), 7:30 p.m., Feb. 9 @ Pueblo Events Center
While Pueblo West dropped two South Central League games in a row, this Steel City rivalry always draws impressive crowds. Pueblo South took care of business in the first meeting, limiting the Cyclones to only 31 points. South followed that up with a victory over Pueblo Centennial to push its winning streak to eight games, and senior Marcell Barbee
is scoring nearly 20 points a game.
West will need to get its offense going again. The team scored 39 points in a one-point loss to Pueblo East on Friday, but has a second turn through the SCL with six games in February.Class 3A
• Sterling (14-0) at Resurrection Christian (Loveland) (11-4), 7 p.m., Feb. 2
There isn't anything unusual about a top-10 matchup in the Patriot League, but this has all the makings of a great game. Defending state champion Sterling continues to romp through opponents. Platte Valley (Kersey) had been undefeated in league play, but the Tigers took care of business 65-45 on Friday night. Senior Bodie Hume
is averaging more than 20 points a game.
Resurrection Christian dropped its first league game Jan. 16 in overtime to Platte Valley, but has still won six of seven. Sophomore Jackson Romero
has scored at least 20 points in four of the previous five games.• DSST: Stapleton (Denver) (11-3) at Arrupe Jesuit (Denver) (12-1), 7 p.m., Feb. 7
It isn't often that the Frontier League garners attention, but this matchup bears watching. A DSST-Stapleton team coming off a 69-68 loss in double overtime to The Pinnacle (Thornton) still has plenty of time to regroup, especially with the effort senior Vince Jones
has put forth this season. But an Arrupe Jesuit squad that struggled for years had already matched its win total in each of the past two seasons, with a handful of games remaining. Senior Elijah Chavez
paces the Generals with nearly 18 points a game to go along with four assists and three steals.
• The Vanguard School (Colorado Springs) (13-1) at Crowley County (Ordway) (13-0), 7 p.m., Feb. 2
Inter-classification matchups late in the season can be a big draw headed into the playoffs. The Vanguard School, currently ranked seventh in 3A, visits 2A's top-ranked Crowley County to open the month.
The Vanguard was riding an eight-game winning streak after Colorado Academy handed the team its only loss of the season back in December, an 87-81 thriller in overtime. Junior Seth Fuqua
continues to do damage to opponents, averaging 26.9 points a game. Crowley County closes the season with Fowler, which fell short by only one point to the Chargers on Jan. 19. Senior Bradley Carnes-Clabey
paces a balanced offense with 14.3 points and 10.4 rebounds a game.Class 2A
• Byers (11-2) at Limon (10-2), 4 p.m., Feb. 9
A top-10 non-league battle late in the season pits No. 6 Byers at second-ranked Limon.
Byers has won five in a row since an overtime loss to Evangelical Christian (Colorado Springs), and the team's only other loss came in the opener to a strong 3A Vanguard School team. Senior Austin Davis
leads the Bulldogs with 17.4 points a game. Limon is also coming off a recent OT loss, this one by one point to Simla last Tuesday, which snapped a seven-game winning streak. Freshman Camden Smithburg
has been a force for the Badgers.
• Cheyenne Wells (9-1) at Holly (13-0), 4 p.m., Feb. 8
With the postseason closing in, two of 1A's top teams tangle in a non-league matchup.
No. 4 Cheyenne Wells had won six in a row after a loss to South Baca in mid-December. The Tigers have a busy February, with seven regular-season games on the schedule. This may be No. 2 Holly's toughest game to date. The Wildcats have had only two victories come by less than 10 points, including one over Kit Carson on Jan. 20. Senior Jesse Gomez
is leading the team with 14.2 points a game.