View profile

What does each Patriot League school look to get from the district 🏀 tournaments?

Welcome back for another loaded edition of The Playbook! Speaking of loaded... this an action-packed,
The Playbook
What does each Patriot League school look to get from the district 🏀 tournaments?
By The Playbook • Issue #57 • View online
Welcome back for another loaded edition of The Playbook!
Speaking of loaded… this an action-packed, loaded time of the winter season.
Two very prominent postseason tournaments are underway.
Patriot League wrestling programs are competing in regional tournaments throughout the state today and Saturday, contending for berths in next week’s state tournament.
We’ll have much more on those regional tournaments in Saturday’s and Monday’s editions of The Playbook. Also, we’ll have updates from those regional tournaments on Twitter @PatriotPlaybook.
As for today’s issue, we’ll get you all set for the week-long Patriot League district boys and girls basketball tournaments, which tip off today and conclude Friday at the University of Northern Colorado’s Bank of Colorado Arena.
Also, just a friendly reminder… if you haven’t already done so, make sure you fill out our audience survey (click here). We want to hear your thoughts on The Playbook and how we can improve your experience.
If you fill out the survey (which takes about 5 minutes), you will have a chance to attend a Colorado Eagles hockey game at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. We are giving away a pair of tickets to two lucky winners.
We will randomly select the two winners on Monday.

Sterling's Jace Pittman makes a shot while guarded by Resurrection Christian's Zach Cook on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Sterling's Jace Pittman makes a shot while guarded by Resurrection Christian's Zach Cook on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
There's more than just tournament hardware at stake in the Patriot League district basketball tournaments
By Bobby Fernandez, bfernandez@patriotplaybook
When the final buzzer sounds on the Class 3A Patriot League district basketball tournaments a week from now at the University of Northern Colorado’s Bank of Colorado Arena, one boys team and one girls team will walk away with championship hardware.
But, even for the other 10 programs, walking away completely empty handed really isn’t an option.
For many of these teams, advancing in the postseason and building further momentum will be the primary focus. The top two teams in the district automatically qualify for the state tournament, beginning March 1, and the other 18 statewide qualifiers are determined by CHSAA’s RPI system.
For other Patriot League teams, qualifying for state may be an unrealistic goal, but using this tournament to build for the future is paramount.
Here’s a look at what each of the Patriot League’s 11 members look to get out of the district tournaments this weekend and next week.
The tournament begins at home sites today. The second round and semifinals are Tuesday and Wednesday, also at home sites.
The finals take place Friday at UNC.
Brush Beetdiggers
There may not be a school that has more to play for in this tournament than Brush does.
The Beetdiggers girls (6-4, 9-10) and boys (3-7, 9-10) are 31st and 40th, respectively, in 3A RPI.
A win or two in this tournament and the girls likely punch their ticket to next month’s state tournament. The boys, on the other hand, likely have to go on what would be a surprising run against strong competition to rise enough in RPI to snag a state tournament berth.
First-round opponents: The fifth-seeded girls receive a first-round bye before facing No. 4 University on the road in the second round at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The ninth-seeded boys face No. 8 Frontier Academy at 6 tonight in Greeley.
Eaton's Ahana Leffler dribbles by Platte Valley's Rhys Maxey on Jan. 11 at Eaton High School. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Eaton's Ahana Leffler dribbles by Platte Valley's Rhys Maxey on Jan. 11 at Eaton High School. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Eaton Reds
All the pressure is on the Eaton girls in this tournament — the type of pressure coach Todd Hernandez and his historically successful program are used to. The Reds ran roughshod through the Patriot League’s regular season with a record of 10-0 in league, 18-1 overall.
Eaton’s girls will try to merely hold serve during this second trip through the Patriot League, which won’t be easy with teams like Platte Valley and Resurrection Christian determined to avenge close regular season losses to the Reds.
However, if Eaton can win this tournament, a top 4 seed in the state tournament should be waiting.
The Reds’ boys team (7-3, 12-7) is much more of an underdog in this tournament, but it’s a formidable one.
Eaton vaulted into the top 4 of the regular season standings, winning three consecutive league games to end the regular season. The offense has been on fire lately, led by sophomore Scott Grable (15.9 points per game).
Even if the Reds get past their opening game Tuesday, making it to the finals will be difficult, as they’re on the same side of the bracket as unbeaten, top-seeded powerhouse Sterling.
First-round opponents: The fourth-seeded Eaton boys receive a first-round bye. They play host to University in the second round at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The top-seeded girls receive a first-round bye. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, they play host to the winner of today’s game between No. 8 Estes Park and No. 9 Strasburg.
Olivia Hamel of Estes Park, left, blocks out Izzy Swanson of Liberty Common for a rebound Jan. 17 at Liberty Common High School. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Olivia Hamel of Estes Park, left, blocks out Izzy Swanson of Liberty Common for a rebound Jan. 17 at Liberty Common High School. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Estes Park Bobcats
Estes Park’s boys and girls are among a handful of teams that are likely just playing for pride, and experience, barring a completely unexpected run to the finals.
The 10th-seeded boys (2-9, 6-13) and eighth-seeded girls (3-7, 10-9) are 48th and 36th, respectively, in RPI.
Rising at least four spots in RPI isn’t out of the question for the girls. But, they’ll likely need to upset Eaton in the second round or make a big run in the consolation bracket.
The Bobcat girls do have an ace up their sleeve with arguably the league’s most dominant post presence in junior Olivia Hamel (12.1 points, 11.9 rebounds per game).
First-round opponents: The boys face No. 7 Valley on the road at 6 tonight. The girls play host to No. 9 Strasburg at 6 tonight.
Collin Channell, center, posts up in a 67-58 loss to Colorado Academy on Dec. 14. (Photo by Jordan Reyes)
Collin Channell, center, posts up in a 67-58 loss to Colorado Academy on Dec. 14. (Photo by Jordan Reyes)
Frontier Academy Wolverines
The 11th-seeded Frontier Academy girls (0-10, 1-18) would have to make a remarkable run to the finals of this tournament to extend their season.
They’re 66th in RPI, so an at-large bid to the state tournament is out of the question.
Odds are, today’s first round game will be the season finale for the Wolverines. Still, with a super-young team of one senior, two juniors, seven sophomores and four freshmen, Frontier Academy should take advantage of this experience of playing in a postseason tournament game.
The eighth-seeded Wolverines boys (3-7, 9-10) are 35th in RPI and will likely need to earn a win or two to secure a spot in next month’s 32-team state tournament. And, a win today in the first round isn’t completely out of the question, as Frontier Academy beat this same Brush team 78-73 in overtime just two weeks ago.
First-round opponents: The Frontier Academy girls take on No. 6 Sterling on the road at 6 tonight. The boys play host to No. 9 Brush at 6 tonight.
Liberty Common girls basketball coach Troy Ukasick talks to his team during a timeout against Estes Park on Jan. 17. Liberty Common won 37-30. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Liberty Common girls basketball coach Troy Ukasick talks to his team during a timeout against Estes Park on Jan. 17. Liberty Common won 37-30. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Liberty Common Eagles
The Eagles boys team will likely see the end to what has been a somewhat trying year, while the girls could very well play on — in this tournament and into next month.
Liberty Common’s seventh-seeded girls team (5-5, 10-9) battled through a tough league schedule and finds itself 34th in RPI. A run in this tournament would no doubt solidify the Eagles’ state tournament spot. But, Liberty Common could also achieve as much by winning tonight against Valley then making a run in the consolation bracket, if the Eagles do in fact lose in the second round to powerful Platte Valley.
Either way, tonight’s game against the Vikings is must-win.
Liberty Common’s 11th-seeded boys (0-10, 2-17) are 65th in RPI and, barring an incredible run to the district finals, the Eagles won’t make it past this tournament.
First-round opponents: The girls play host to No. 10 Valley at 6 tonight. The boys travel to No. 6 Strasburg at 6 tonight.
Platte Valley's Cora Schissler drives by Eaton's Mady Bruch on Jan. 11 at Eaton High School. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Platte Valley's Cora Schissler drives by Eaton's Mady Bruch on Jan. 11 at Eaton High School. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Platte Valley Broncos
The second-seeded Broncos girls (9-1, 17-2) let a late lead slip away in their only league loss, a 43-35 road loss to Eaton on Jan. 11.
No doubt this young, up-and-coming Platte Valley team would like another chance at the regular season league champion Reds.
But, first, the Broncos must advance past the talent-laden side of their bracket, which includes Resurrection Christian and historical league powerhouse Sterling.
This tournament will be valuable for a Platte Valley team that is ranked seventh in RPI and will likely qualify for state regardless of what happens next week.
This is a different environment for the Broncos: playing in a postseason tournament as one of the overwhelming favorites. It’s important Platte Valley handles the pressure.
On the other hand, the Broncos’ third-seeded boys team (7-3, 14-5) is used to playing the role as favorites in postseason tournaments. But, this Platte Valley team is less experienced than some of the other talented Broncos squads in recent years.
The leadership of 6-foot-9 senior star big man Bryson Becker (22.2 points, 11.7 rebounds per game) will be important for the Broncos, who should really be focused on state tournament seeding with this district tournament. Platte Valley is seeded 14th in RPI.
The Broncos are on the opposite side of the bracket of Sterling, which is huge. A run to Friday’s finals isn’t out of the question.
First-round opponents: Platte Valley’s boys and girls receive first-round byes. The boys, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, play host to the winner of today’s game between No. 6 Strasburg and No. 11 Liberty Common. The girls, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, play host to the winner of tonight’s game between No. 7 Liberty Common and No. 10 Valley.
Resurrection Christian's Reece Johnson tries to get a rebound before Sterling's Carter Keil on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Resurrection Christian's Reece Johnson tries to get a rebound before Sterling's Carter Keil on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Resurrection Christian Cougars
Perhaps none of these 11 Patriot League schools will give their home fans more reasons to cheer in the coming weeks than what the Cougars will.
Resurrection Christian’s boys and girls are big-time threats to make a run to the finals in this tournament and, perhaps, win a couple games in next month’s state tournament.
The boys (9-1, 15-4) are seeded second and are ranked seventh in RPI. The girls (7-3, 12-6) are seeded third and are 16th in RPI.
With state tournament berths already in hand, this tournament is all about building momentum for the Cougars. Of course, they also wouldn’t mind upsetting tournament favorites — the Eaton girls and Sterling boys — in the process of building that momentum.
First-round opponents: The boys receive a first-round bye before playing host, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, to the winner of tonight’s game between No. 7 Valley and No. 10 Estes Park. The girls receive a first-round bye and at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday will play host to the winner of tonight’s game between No. 6 Sterling and No. 11 Frontier Academy.
Sterling's Axel Henry tries to dribble as he is guarded by Resurrection Christian's Zach Cook on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Sterling's Axel Henry tries to dribble as he is guarded by Resurrection Christian's Zach Cook on Jan. 15 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Sterling Tigers
Like the aforementioned Eaton girls, the top-seeded Sterling boys (10-0, 18-0) are merely trying to defend the unquestioned top dog status they established for themselves during weeks of Patriot League play.
The Tigers are overwhelming favorites in this tournament, though they must not forget how Resurrection Christian pushed them in a 63-54 overtime win on Jan. 15.
The sixth-seeded Sterling girls (6-4, 7-12) saw their six-year streak of winning the regular season league championship end, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise. The Tigers were in many ways starting anew this winter.
They have just one senior, one junior, seven sophomores and seven freshmen on their incredibly young roster.
After a slow start to the season, Sterling won three of four league games to end the regular season, including a big 60-54 overtime win against University on Feb. 8.
This tournament presents a fine opportunity for the Tigers girls to show how far they’ve come, while also perhaps shoring up a state tournament berth. Sterling is 35th in RPI.
First-round opponents: The boys receive a first-round bye before playing host, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, to the winner of tonight’s game between No. 8 Frontier Academy and No. 9 Brush. The girls play host to No. 11 Frontier Academy at 6 tonight.
Strasburg junior Mitchell Davis has emerged as a leader this winter for the Strasburg boys basketball team. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Strasburg junior Mitchell Davis has emerged as a leader this winter for the Strasburg boys basketball team. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Strasburg Indians
Like with Brush, this tournament will completely decide Strasburg’s state tournament fate.
The sixth-seeded boys (5-5, 9-10) are 33rd in RPI. The ninth-seeded girls (2-8, 8-11) are 37th in RPI.
Both teams will need to win some games in this tournament if they’re going to have any chance of earning berths to the state tournament.
A recent five-game losing streak has put the Indians’ girls team on the brink of ending its season. The boys struggled in nearly identical fashion with their own five-game win streak that dropped them from the upper half of the league.
This tournament provides both teams the chance to right the ship.
First-round opponents: The girls travel to No. 8 Estes Park at 6 tonight. The boys play host to No. 11 Liberty Common at 6 tonight.
Bulldogs junior Andre Chacon, right, works for a shot against Platte Valley's Trevon Wehrman on Feb. 1 at University Middle School in Greeley. (Photo by Michael Brian)
Bulldogs junior Andre Chacon, right, works for a shot against Platte Valley's Trevon Wehrman on Feb. 1 at University Middle School in Greeley. (Photo by Michael Brian)
University Bulldogs
The fifth-seeded University boys team (6-4, 13-6) is one of the league’s biggest surprises this winter after going 3-7, 8-12 and not making it out of the district tournament’s first round a year ago.
Under a new head coach, Bobby Ervin, and with a new leading man, freshman Tayt Chacon (16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds per game), this tournament presents a fine opportunity for the Bulldogs to further prove themselves as one of 3A’s fastest risers.
The University girls (6-4, 12-7) are coming off a breakout season a year ago, going 7-3, 18-6.
This season has likely been a bit more of a roller coaster ride than what coach Sarah Wildt and her team may have anticipated. But, the postseason presents new opportunity for a Bulldogs squad that certainly has the sheer talent to make a run in this tournament and in the state tournament.
First-round opponents: The University boys receive a first-round bye, then face No. 4 Eaton on the road at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The girls receive a bye before playing host to No. 5 Brush at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Valley's girls basketball team huddles during a 58-36 loss to The Academy on Nov. 29 in Eaton. (Photo by Bobby Fernandez)
Valley's girls basketball team huddles during a 58-36 loss to The Academy on Nov. 29 in Eaton. (Photo by Bobby Fernandez)
Valley Vikings
This tournament will prove to be make-or-break for the seventh-seeded Valley boys’ hopes of advancing to the state tournament.
With a record of 4-6, 10-9, the Vikings are right on the bubble, sitting 36th in RPI. Valley will likely need to beat Estes Park today then pull off an upset in the first round against Resurrection Christian on Tuesday to sneak into the postseason.
The odds are even more slim for the 10th-seeded Valley girls (1-9, 3-16), who are 59th in RPI. The Vikings would need to make a miraculous run to the district finals to move on to state next month.
Rather, this young Valley team should use this experience as a springboard into next season with just one senior — Kenzie Ray (7.5 points, 5 rebounds) — on this year’s roster.
First-round opponent: The Valley boys play host to No. 10 Estes Park at 6 tonight. The Vikings girls travel to Fort Collins to face No. 7 Liberty Common at 6 tonight.
Brackets for the boys and girls Patriot League district basketball tournaments
Boys bracket
Boys bracket
Girls bracket
Girls bracket
Coming up in Saturday's edition of The Playbook
  • Resurrection Christian’s Juju Hemeyer is the conductor of a potent Cougars girls basketball attack.
  • Plus, a look at the first day of regional wrestling action.
Thanks for reading! See you Saturday!
Bobby Fernandez, The Playbook

Did you enjoy this issue?
The Playbook

The Playbook — Your connection to Patriot League Sports News. Visit our Members page to start your subscription today.

Tweet     Share
This is a members only issue
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue
501 8th Ave., Greeley, CO 80631

Become a member to read this issue in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter and become a paying member. Learn more.

Already a member? Click here

Fill out your email address

We'll send over this issue. Make sure to use your membership email address.