Playoffs makes pressure rise for area prep teams
No more second-chances.
Now, the situation facing the five area prep basketball teams that advanced to the first round of the state playoffs is easy.
It’s win or turn in the uniforms.
Three of those teams face that challenge this evening.
The Rifle boys and Basalt girls have the luxury of playing their games at home.
They open the state playoffs against Fountain-Fort Carson and Denver Lutheran respectively.
Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts tonight.
Both area teams earned home games with high finishes at their respective district tournaments last weekend.
Despite losing the Class 4A, District 7 championship game to Montezuma-Cortez, the Rifle boys were rewarded by the state tournament’s basketball selection committee with a high seed in the 32-team playoff field.
The Bears (16-6) are the No. 12 seed and play No. 21 Fountain of Fort Carson at the Bear Lair this evening.
The 13-10 Trojans are lead by sophomore Ryan Walker, who averages a team-high 15.6 points per game, and 6-foot-7 Philip Loadholt, another sophomore who averages 14.3 points a game.
Rifle has three starters averaging 11 points each in Carl Day, Andy Gardineer and Ryan Shideler.
Day and Gardineer are also among the state’s Class 4A leaders in rebounds and assists respectively.
At the 3A girls district tournament, Basalt (21-1) captured its first district crown under coach Debbie Alcorta, and earned the No. 4 seed for the state tournament.
They open tournament play at Basalt’s “Big House” against 11-11 Lutheran, ranked 29th overall.
The Longhorns feature a balanced scoring attack with three starters averaging 10 or more points per game.
Sophomore Mariah Mulcahy leads Basalt with a 14.2 scoring average, followed by Autumn Caughern’s 10.7 average, and Lauren Redfern’s 10.5 points per game.
Meanwhile, the Roaring Fork boys have an additional cross to bear.
They have to endure a three-hour bus trip to Leadville for their first-round contest against Lake County.
The Panthers were ranked sixth in the final 3A state poll, and are currently 18-4 entering tonight’s game with the Rams.
Their key player is swingman Kevin Jewell, a 6-foot-5 junior who switches from a forward to a guard’s role, depending on where he’s needed.
Jewell averages just over 19 points a game and is Lake County’s top rebounder with a 10.7 average.
On Wednesday, the Rifle girls (12-10) are headed eastward for a first-round game against No. 7 Evergreen (18-3) and the 4A’s leading scorer Jennifer Whettian, who averages 21.7 points per-game.
Locally, Roaring Fork (13-6) hosts Frederick (15-7) in a 3A girls tournament first-rounder.
The Rams are lead offensively by sophomore post Tarn Udall (14.1 points per game) and senior guard Emily Markham (11.1 points).
Admission prices for all first-and second-round state playoff games are $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors.
The ticket prices are determined by the Colorado High School Activities Association
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.