Gyms all over the state will soon be filled with the sounds of basketball. The first scrimmages became eligible earlier this week. Just in time, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has released its coaches’ poll preseason basketball rankings. Below are the rankings for boys’ teams from the San Luis Valley.
Centauri – 13 votes
Alamosa – 1 vote
Things have been pretty intense within the Intermountain League, a league typically run by Bayfield. Positions shifted this past season when the Wolverines took a step back. Unfortunately, neither the Moose or Falcons were able to take advantage of a slumping Wolverine team. It was Montezuma-Cortez that filled the gap and claimed the district title with a 50-48 victory over Alamosa in the title game last year. Despite that, Alamosa and Centauri both earned placement in the state tournament a season ago. Both squads fell in the Sweet Sixteen round, one game short of a rematch in Denver. Alamosa to Sterling and Centauri to Montezuma-Cortez.
Centauri graduated their leading scorer a season ago but seem well supplanted with talent as six returning players all cleared the century mark in scoring with Baron Holman leading the pack with 145 points last year. Alamosa will welcome Myles Baker as the new head coach. Baker will inherit a rather intact team. The expectation is that the Moose’s two leading scorers Brenden Crowther and Ian Jackson will return. Crowther was a perimeter ace last season hitting 44 three-pointers at 39 percent accuracy, both top marks for the team. And Jackson had an all-around well-developed game showed consistency in the paint as well as from the fringes.
The two seniors led the team in both total rebounds as well as blocks. Centauri is scheduled for a Dec. 5, 8:30 p.m. meeting with Olathe at the Mountain Top Tournament. Alamosa’s first action is scheduled for Dec. 6 at 7 p.m where they’ll host Sanford.
Sanford ranked 6th with 46 votes
Sanford head coach Rhett Larsen knows his way around a basketball court. As a result, Sanford will open this season ranked in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll. A season ago Sanford breezed through the district tournament and would host their regional tournament. At regionals, Sanford would fall one bucket short to the visiting Denver Christian Thunder.
Sanford graduated sniper Jakob Peterson. In Peterson’s stead, Sanford will look to Thomas Faucette and Clay Canty to keep up the outside game. Faucette and Canty were tied last year for the second most efficient three-point shooters on the team. Canty is the highest-ranking remaining rebounder from a year ago posting 86 boards.
Sanford will start the season on the road against Alamosa Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
Sargent – 7 votes
Del Norte – 4 votes
Both Sargent and Del Norte would perform well enough during the season to earn their way into regional tournaments. Sargent would meet Holly in postseason play for the second sport that year, the first being football. It didn’t go well for Sargent in either arena. Holly ended both Sargent’s football season in the fall and basketball season in the winter. Del Norte couldn’t clear Sedgwick County at Highland’s tournament falling 54-50 in the first round at regionals. The Farmers will take the court with a new head coach, Marcus Ortiz. Ortiz will take the wheel of a Farmers team that graduated 6 seniors from a year ago.
Del Norte graduated their two most productive shooters in Kade Glover and Izeah Peterson-Chillson they will be looking for contributions from their younger players like junior Luke Crestone who was third on the team in scoring, rebounds and blocks last year. Sargent will be at the Mountain Top Tournament in La Jara to start the year, their first opponent of the season will be Moffat County Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. Del Norte will host Monte Vista for their Dec. 5 7:30 p.m. meeting.
Sangre de Cristo ranked 4th with 56 votes
The Thunderbirds suffered two losses last season, one a headscratcher to Rocky Ford and the second in the state final to the DeBeque Dragons. Even advancing to the state final was an accomplishment in and of itself. The Thunderbirds graduated some key pieces from a season ago in 3 of their top five scorers.
Cole Christensen, as the leading scorer from last year with 419 points, will set the pace for the T-Birds this season. Christensen will get help from Kevin Enriquez who was the second most efficient distance shooter on the team (min. 10 attempts). Sangre de Cristo will host the Thunderbird Shootout, their first opponent of the year will be Custer County Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7:40 p.m.
Sierra Grande – 7 votes
Creede – 6 votes
The Miners and Panthers would take second and third respectively at the district tournament and earn seeding in their respective regional tournament brackets. There neither team would advance beyond the first round Sierra Grande falling to Walsh and Creede to Kit Carson. Sierra Grande will field a rather young team and will see the return of their top three scorers including team leader Caleb Scharsch who paced the team with 209 points last year. Sierra Grande will be looking for someone to fill a gap down low as the Panthers graduated interior specialist Ambrosio Mondragon last year. Mondragon led the team in blocks and rebounds.
Creede will introduce new head coach Aaron Christiansen this season. Christiansen will man the helm of a team that graduated three of their top five scorers from last season. The new wave will be led by Fisher Leggitt. Leggitt led the team in scoring last season and was third on the club in rebounds. Leggitt will get support from Marcus Romero who placed third on the team in scoring with 250 points.
Creede will begin their season at the Thunderbird Shootout in Mosca on Dec. 5. Sierra Grande will begin their season at the R.L. Ballard Tournament in Springfield playing host Springfield on Dec. 6.