Boys hoops: Warriors look to rebuild

Daniel P. Johnson
Posted

Arapahoe’s boys basketball team has enjoyed great success the past three years.

They’ve won three straight Class 5A Centennial League titles.

In the last two years, they’ve won 50 games (25 each season which is a school record) and lost just five games, while reaching two state Final Fours. Last year, they lost in the 5A title game in overtime to Chaparral.

Coach Dan Snyder, who is in his seventh year at Arapahoe, knows that while this year’s team may only return one starter from a season ago, he does have a handful of players with varsity experience.

“It will be difficult to match the past two years, but we expect to have a competitive team,” said Snyder, who has a record of 126-29 at Arapahoe.

“We return only one player who was a full-time starter last year, but we have a number of players who have some varsity experience. We have good size and shoot the ball pretty well.”

Taven Sparks, a 6-foot-4 guard, fresh off of quarterbacking the football team to an appearance in the 5A state quarterfinals, is the Warriors’ lone returning starter. Backup point guard Thomas Trotman and part-time starter at forward, 6-foot-5 Evan Walsh provide that experience Snyder referenced.

Mitch Albyn (6-foot-5 senior) and Matt Glasscock (6-foot-5 senior) are two athletic bigs that have shown outside range. Brendan Till is a 6-foot-2 junior guard that will extend the defense with his 3-point shooting.

Snyder sees the race for the Centennial League title being a competitive one.

“This should be a banner year for the Centennial League,” Snyder said. “I think most people would say that our league will be the strongest league in the state this year.”

Cherry Creek, which finished second to Arapahoe in the Centennial League a year ago with an 11-3 mark (18-8 overall), is led once again by coach Mike Brookhardt.

The Bruins, who reached the Sweet 16 last season, are “an inexperienced team with great potential,” according to their coach.

Sam Stoveall, a senior, is the team’s best shooter. Six-foot-seven Graham Pingree will pack a punch on the post and sophomore Will Bower is the team’s best athlete.

In the Continental League, Regis Jesuit finished last season with a perfect 11-0 mark in league play (20-4 overall) and earned one of the four number one seeds in the 32-team 5A state field. The Raiders, however, were upset in the second round by Poudre, 57-54.

Coach Ken Shaw, whose teams have compiled a staggering 43-1 record in Continental League play the last four years, thinks his team is capable of making a deep run in the playoffs.

Josh Perkins, a 6-foot-3 junior point guard, leads the way for Regis Jesuit. Last year, Perkins averaged 18.6 points, 5.2 assists and shot 56 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free-throw line. He was an All-State selection and also participated in The Show All-Star Game, which features the best players in the state.

Senior guard Eric Stemper, junior forward Devin Kadillak, junior forward Elijah Sanford and sophomore guard Bryan Staerkel are solid all-around players that Shaw says will contribute to the team this season.

Littleton finished last season with a 2-9 league record and 5-18 overall, while Heritage was 3-8 in league play, 8-15 overall.

In Class 4A, Valor Christian reached the Final Four a year ago, and according to its coach, Ronnie DeGray, they have some unfinished business to attend to this season.

The Eagles, 23-3 a season ago, lost 70-59 to eventual champion Lewis-Palmer in the semifinals.

Chase Foster, a 6-foot-4 junior was a second team All-State selection a year ago. He returns, along with classmate, Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was a first team All-Continental League selection.

Marcus Wilson and Garrett Baggett also return to the Valor Christian lineup.

In Class 3A, Kent Denver was 14-12 a year ago with a 4-5 record in Metro League play. They advanced to the second round of the 3A state tournament, where they were eliminated by Faith Christian.