When all is said and done Saturday night, who will be the last team standing? Will it be the defending champion that fought tooth-and-nail with a target on its back all season?
Will it be the favorite, the squad that was perhaps a No. 1 overall seed or a team that had its way with the competition over the past few months? Or, will it be someone else, a team that started with a lower seed but persevered in the underdog role and played the best when it mattered most?
With only three days remaining in the girls basketball season, we're about to find out. Starting with Thursday's semifinal round in Class 5A and 4A, and the quarterfinals in 3A, 2A and 1A, the push for an elusive spot in Saturday's championship games has come down to one final weekend.
Four of the state's five classifications still has its defending champion representing - 5A Grandview (Aurora)
, 4A Evergreen
, 3A Lamar
and 1A Kit Carson
- while a new champion will be crowned in 2A for the fifth consecutive season.
Here is a quick overview of each classification going into Thursday:Class 5A
Thursday's SemifinalsNo. 4 Grandview (23-3) vs. No. 8 Fossil Ridge (20-5), 7 p.m.
No. 2 Lakewood (23-3) vs. No. 6 Regis Jesuit (23-3), 8:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m. Saturday at Denver ColiseumOverview:
Three of these four teams were in the Final 4 last March. Only Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
, which lost in the Sweet 16, is new to the group. … Defending champion Grandview defeated Lakewood
in the championship game a year ago and made the semifinals in 2016 as well. The Wolves, whose only in-state loss this season came to Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
, have won at least 20 games in seven consecutive seasons. Senior Leilah Vigil
(15.6 points, 7.7 rebounds) and junior Alisha Davis
(11.3 points, 8.5 rebounds) are a potent 1-2 punch. … One of Grandview's victories this winter came over Fossil Ridge, a 57-52 win back on Dec. 5. The SaberCats are coming off a six-point victory over top-seeded Fruita Monument, and are in the semifinals for the first time 2014. Fossil Ridge lost to Regis Jesuit in the title game that year. Junior Ashley Steffeck
leads a balanced offense with 12 points a game. … Speaking of the Raiders, they are in the semifinals for the fourth time in six years. Regis Jesuit hasn't made the final since winning back-to-back titles in 2013-14. … The team's three losses this season came to out-of-state opponents, and the Raiders defeated Lakewood in a tournament Dec. 1. Junior Francesca Belibi
leads the team in points (13.9), rebounds (8.2), steals (2.7) and blocks (1.6). … Lakewood has won 16 games in a row. Senior Camilla Emsbo
(18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds) is one of six seniors on the roster, including twin sister Kira Emsbo
, who was lost to injury before the season began.MaxPreps Colorado Class 5A state bracketClass 4A
No. 8 Mesa Ridge (23-3) vs. No. 12 Pueblo South (17-9), 4 p.m.
No. 6 Evergreen (24-2) vs. No. 15 Widefield (21-5), 5:30 p.m.
1 p.m. Saturday at Denver ColiseumOverview:
Three of the final four teams – Evergreen, Pueblo South
and Mesa Ridge (Colorado Springs)
– have combined to win three of the previous five state championships. Pueblo South was the runner-up to Evergreen last March, and the Cougars were second two years ago. … Mesa Ridge swept fellow semifinalist and Colorado Springs Metro League rival Widefield (Colorado Springs)
in two games this season, and defeated Pueblo South to open the season. The Grizzlies last won a championship in 2014, but an upset of top-seeded Pueblo West in the quarterfinals – behind a monster game of 21 points and 20 rebounds from Ashley Bowen
– has the team poised to return to the top. Chloe Welch
leads the team with 15.8 points a game, and Bowen averages 12.7 points and 11 rebounds. … Pueblo South has won 13 of its past 15 games, with the only two losses come to No. 1 Pueblo West. The Colts returned the bulk of its team that made the title game a year ago, and junior Gabi Lucero
leads the team with 17.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. Senior Maya Austin
averages 13.5 points. … Evergreen is attempting to get back to the title game for the third year in a row. The Cougars upended No. 3 Air Academy in the quarterfinals, becoming the first team to score 50 points on the Kadets. Junior Claudia Dillon
averages a team-best 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds. … Widefield upset No. 2 Holy Family and No. 7 Golden to make the semifinals. The Gladiators haven't played for a state title since 2001, and were the No. 43 overall seed a year ago. Junior Aaliyah Ricketts
leads the team at 15.6 points a game and senior Charisse Fairley
averages 13.5 points.MaxPreps Colorado Class 4A state bracketClass 3A
University of Denver
No. 3 St. Mary's (23-1) vs. No. 6 Cedaredge (21-3), 8:45 a.m.
No. 1 Kent Denver (21-3) vs. No. 8 Moffat County (19-5), 11:45 a.m.
No. 4 Colorado Springs Christian (21-3) vs. No. 5 Centauri (21-2), 4 p.m.
No. 2 Pagosa Springs (20-3) vs. No. 10 Lamar (20-4), 7 p.m.
4 p.m. and 7 p.m. FridayChampionship:
4 p.m. Saturday
Five of the eight teams in the quarterfinals made the Great 8 last March as well. Kent Denver (Englewood)
was not one of them, but the Sun Devils are enjoying their best season since 2013. Senior Julia Doyle
averages 16.7 points, 5.6 assists and 4.7 steals for Kent, which has never won a state title. … St. Mary's (Colorado Springs)
likely would have been the top seed had it not been for a one-point loss to Colorado Springs Christian in district play. The Pirates are relatively young as well, with seven sophomores on the roster, including leading scorer Josephine Howery
. … Two of Colorado Springs Christian's
losses came to the top seeds in 5A and 4A. The runner-up last March has one of 3A's top players in junior Megan Engesser
(21.9 points). … Defending champion Lamar upset Sterling in the second round and is the lowest remaining seed. Sophomore Cali Clark
averages 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds. … Pagosa Springs' Morgan Lewis
averages nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Pirates, who won it all in 2015. … Centauri (La Jara)
reached the semifinals in each of the past two seasons, losing on a buzzer-beater to Lamar last March. … Moffat County (Craig)
tied for the Western Slope League title with two other teams and combined for 40 victories overall this season. Neither has won a state title. MaxPreps Colorado Class 3A state bracket
Budweiser Events Center in Loveland
No. 2 Simla (23-1) vs. No. 7 Clear Creek (22-2), 8:45 a.m.
No. 1 Yuma (24-0) vs. No. 8 Ignacio (21-2), 11:45 a.m.
No. 3 Wray (19-5) vs. No. 6 Rangely (21-3), 4 p.m.
No. 4 Holyoke (18-6) vs. No. 5 Limon (22-1), 7 p.m.
4 p.m. and 7 p.m. FridayChampionship:
7 p.m. SaturdayOverview:
The 2A classification will crown a new champion after Paonia didn't make the Great 8. … Top-seeded Yuma
has been in the title game in four the previous five years, but was upset by Wray in the semifinals a year ago to snap its streak. Juniors Cody Robinson
(14.6 points) and Chasey Blach
(14.3 points and 11.5 rebounds) have been a dominating duo for Yuma. … Simla
made three 2A title game in a row from 1996-98, winning it all in 1996, but hasn't made it back since. The Cubs' only loss this season came to Calhan. … Wray
lost to top-seeded Yuma three times this season. The Eagles are on the opposite side of the bracket though, and the team's only other loss to a 2A team this year came in overtime to Burlington. … Holyoke
lost to Wray three times and Yuma twice. Senior Grace Dille
is one of 2A's top rebounders, averaging a double-double at 12.7 points and 14.8 rebounds. … Limon's
only setback came to Simla, and the Badgers are one of the more balanced teams in the field. Limon won three titles in a row from 2005-07. … Rangely
has won 13 consecutive games and is only four years removed from a two-win season. … Clear Creek (Evergreen)
lost two of its first three games, and then went on a 21-game winning streak. The Golddiggers only lost by five points to 3A's top seed, Kent Denver. … Ignacio
draws No. 1 Yuma in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. The team's only two losses came to 4A Durango and 3A Pagosa Springs.MaxPreps Colorado Class 2A state bracketClass 1A
Thursday's Quarterfinals @ Butler Hancock Gym, UNC in Greeley
No. 2 Kim/Branson (19-3) vs. No. 7 Heritage Christian (19-5), 8:45 a.m.
No. 1 Kit Carson (22-0) vs. No. 8 Belleview Christian (18-5), 11:45 a.m.
No. 3 Holly (17-6) vs. No. 6 Briggsdale (20-3), 4 p.m.
No. 4 Fleming (21-2) vs. No. 5 North Park (17-5), 7 p.m.
4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday at Butler Hancock Gym, UNC in GreeleyChampionship:
4 p.m. Saturday at Budweiser Events Center in LovelandOverview:
Kit Carson hasn't lost a game in nearly two years and has a total of two losses over the past four seasons, both of which came at state. The Wildcats are riding a 49-game winning streak headed into Thursday's quarterfinal with Belleview Christian (Westminster)
, and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 37 points all season. … Kim/Branson
hasn't made the title game since Kim fell to Wiley in 2013. The Mustangs' three losses came by a combined 16 points, and seniors Joni Brown
and Ashley Yergert
drive the team's offense. … Fleming
lost to Kit Carson in the 2017 title game, and those two teams have met in the 1A volleyball title game each of the past two years. Senior Alli Keisel
is one of three players who score in double figures. … Holly
is enjoying its best season in four years. Senior Josie Cook
leads the team with nearly 16 points a game. … Heritage Christian (Fort Collins)
won 23 games in each of the previous two years. The Eagles made the semifinals last March before falling by two points to Fleming. … North Park (Walden)
has the program's most wins in a season since making the title game in 2007. The Wildcats won only four games a year ago, but turned it around with a roster that has only one senior. … Each of Briggsdale's
three losses came to Fleming, but only by a combined 12 points. The Falcons have seven seniors. … Belleview Christian is experiencing a renaissance after winning two games over two seasons in 2015-16. The Bruins have two juniors who average more than 10 rebounds a game in Brooke Long
and Tiffanee Ryan
.MaxPreps Colorado Class 1A state bracket