Every year I attend several state playoff games. Yesterday afternoon and evening it was the Girls 4A and 5A semis. Interesting basketball, but more about that in a minute. Colorado went to class basketball in 1938. Orginally there were two classes. Today there are five. For a few years in the 90's there were six. The first girls state championship was in 1976. I have never read or seen any indication of Colorado ball being segregated.
Past winners with notable names, (ones you might have laughed about or seen in westerns) include Joes (twice!), Yuma, Climax, Leadville, Cheyenne Wells, Ignacio, Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ), Arickaree, and the school with the greatest nickname in the country, the Brush Beetdiggers. I have been there for a game and it is a very nice gym, but Brush like all the towns on the plains has lost whatever luster it once had.
Of course the WIndsor Wizards of 1923 and 1924 must be mentioned. They also won the National Championship in 1924 with a unique style of play, they did not dribble at all. Apparently their home floor had warped and they learned to play by only passing.
The long time boys coach at Denver Christian (a Dutch Reformed Church school) Dick Katte won his first state championship in 1970, his most recent at Denver Christian in 2006 and is still coaching. I have heard it said that he will not retire until he coaches a grandson of one of his players.
This year Broomfield is going for its fifth consecutive state championship in 4A. Tomorrow night in a rematch from last year they will play Longmont. I saw them play in the semi's last night and they are both good. Longmont is all seniors so I am sort of pulling for them besides Broomfield's coach always looks like he is whining and I hate that..
Holy Family, lead by Sarah Talamantes (google her for her soccer skills) is going for its fourth straight in girls 3A and will win it easily. Holy Family beat Broomfield earlier this year. Faith Christian is going for its fourth straight in boys 3A. Regis Jesuit boys are going from their third straight in 5A. Highlands Ranch girls will play Regis Jesuit girls in 5A and Highlands Ranch will win their seventh title in 12 years. Regis won two years ago with seven D1 players on their roster, Denver East last year in an upset and of course there was the three year reign of Thunderridge lead by the Waner girls.
Both Thunderridge and Highlands Ranch are within 5 minutes of my home. Regis is 20 minutes or so away.
Colorado has very liberal student transfer rules so not only does Colorado share with other states the issue of some private and charter schools recruiting and dominating championships it has a problem with certain public schools recruiting and dominating. Couple years back a ranked 4A girl transferred from Greeley to Highlands Ranch a distance of 86 miles through Denver. A few years before that I watched a semi game between Heritage and Highlands Ranch where the Heritage coach watched three players playing for Highlands Ranch that were from his district. One of whom went on to be an All American at UConn. I suppose you can guess who that was.
I mentioned the Regis girls team from a couple years back that had seven D1 players. Last night I watched Regis beat the Fort Collins Lambkins. Lambkins was appropriate because it was a bloody butchering. Fort Collins was not a bad team. Shot the ball well, handled it, spaced, and had a nice 5-10 big girl. Fort Collins wasn't small either with four players listed at 5-10 or 5-11. Regis had five listed at 6-0 or more. Two at 6-3 and one of them had grown since last measured. Regis listed 12 on its roster and seven are freshmen and two are sophmores. They are young, big, fast and very skilled. When Fort Collins got it down to seven late in Q2 I told my wife the coach should call a timeout and take a picture of the scoreboard. Regis won by 27. However, Highlands Ranch will beat Regis by 15 or so because they are as big, more skilled, better coached and older.
Watching the Regis Fort Collins game I couldn't help but cheer for Fort Collins despite my parish sending large number of students to Regis High School each year (none of whom are on the girls team), despite Regis being nearby and despite my Catholic faith.
Look I admit it, for a number of reasons, mostly weaker academics, I didn't send my daughters to Regis but I also knew they had no chance of playing and what they were doing even then didn't seem right. On Ash Wednesday I couldn't take any pride in the Catholic school with seven freshmen, some built better than many high school senior boys, pounding a public school with a team that looked like what most girls who play high school ball look like.
In front of me were two recruiters from small schools out here. I overheard one of them and I leaned over and said, so how many D1 players do you count? He said, her, her, her, her, her and maybe her. I said would you like to have number 23 (she was a junior) and he said sure, but we aren't USC and he didn't mean the University of South Colorado I looked at him and said, I saw Waner and Fox and that other girl whose name I always forget when they were freshmen at Thunderridge, but this is sick. .He agreed.
Long ago we stopped questioning college talent leaving home and traveling great distances to play where they wanted. Yet, somehow when I see the same thing happening in high school it doesn't feel right. It doesn't look right and it doesn't seem fair. Now why is that? Is it the romance of the Cuba Cubs or the Cowboys from Joes? Or is it seeing organizations using 15 years old to build their image and generate publicity? Or is it simply that when one sees the desire to win and be the best in its rawest form one is unsettled? I have never been smart enough to figure out those things, but I know that when I see it, I don't like it.
SEC Tournament 2011: The Housecats Revenge Tour!
Broomfield girls won their fifth straight 4A title in overtime against Longmont. Poor Longmont, they just about had Broomfield beat but missed a free throw and played soft the final 8 seconds.
Holy Family girls won their fourth straight 3A title. By only nine points, but they seemed to coast the second half.
Highlands Ranch girls won their seventh 5A title in 12 years in a beat down of Regis. Someone please send the UK women's team coach out to Regis and get a couple of these players. Highlands Ranch won by 17, but it would have been much closer to 30 if they had made free throws and two of their players hadn't played so loose with the ball.
Faith Christian boys won their fourth straight 3A title.
Denver Lutheran boys won the 2A title over Lutheran Parker. Denver Lutheran until the last decade was a basketball power, but demographics change and they fell on hard times.This state title win is the last game for the school. They are closing the doors and more or less merging with...Lutheran Parker. How odd is that?
In 5A boys Regis Jesuit won its third straight beating Boulder by 4.
One last note, the Windsor Wizards did not advance to the final of the 4A losing to Sterling in the semis. I was pulling for Windsor since it has been 87 years since their last state championship. Oh well.