Five observations from the summer Colorado high school girls basketball season

Michel CooperLast Update : Wednesday 21 June 2017 - 11:11 PM
Five observations from the summer Colorado high school girls basketball season

In local summer basketball, June is typically reserved for high schoolers to take a break from playing for their respective clubs and come together with their high school teams. Preps editor Kyle Newman breaks down five takeaways from this month’s high school girls basketball action:

Grandview’s reloaded once again

Even after graduating Michaela Onyenwere — who has been the state’s best player, hands down, over the past several seasons — Grandview’s summer roster proves the Wolves are ready to make a repeat Class 5A title run this winter. Senior forward Leilah Vigil, senior shooting guard Jaiden Galloway, junior center Alisha Davis and junior guard Allyah Marlett are seasoned and skilled, plus the Wolves have added a dynamic freshman to the mix in Addison O’Grady.

“Addison’s very skilled, athletic and fits in well with our group,” Grandview coach Josh Ulitzky said. “Plus, she’s 6-3 with long arms, she can defend well and she’s solid around the basket. She’s been a great addition to our team.”

Belibi makes Regis Jesuit a front-runner

Dunking phenom Fran Belibi, who is spending her summer traveling across the country and world to take part in elite camps and play high-level hoops — including winning a gold medal in Argentina at the FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship — automatically makes the Raiders a 5A state title front-runner.

Plus, she’s surrounded by experienced senior guard Jasmine Gaines, senior center Noelle Cahill and sophomore point guard Jada Moore, in addition to highly-touted freshman point guard Avery Van Sickle.

“I’ve been telling people — you have to see this Van Sickle girl play,” Regis Jesuit coach Carl Mattei said. “She can handle the ball well, she can shoot the lights out with spot-up jumpers, fadeaways and runners. She played with Fran, Highlands Ranch’s Autumn Watts and Cherry Creek’s Jana Van Gytenbeek at the 3-on-3 tournament down with USA Basketball this summer, and as one of the only eighth graders there she helped them get to the finals.”

Cherry Creek changes up the pace

After a semifinal run last season, Cherry Creek’s in-state play this month at the Grandview Tournament and the UNC Team Camp, among others, has proved the Bruins are reloaded for another deep 5A tournament push.

Senior shooting guard Sydney Mech, sophomore point guard Jana Van Gytenbeek and senior forward Jaela Richardson highlight the dynamic core of the Bruins lineup as Cherry Creek heads to Notre Dame Team Camp this weekend and continues to hone their new up-tempo approach.

“We’re a little bit more fast-paced than last year, because we’re not quite as big,” Cherry Creek coach Chris Curneen said. “We have to run a little bit more and make more jumpers, but we can also press a little more and go up-tempo a little more. It’s different for our players, but I think it’s going to be good because it fits their style.”

Delaynie Byrne’s ready to make it rain

After having to sit out last season due to transfer, Ralston Valley’s Delaynie Byrne is poised for a breakout campaign. Byrne averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore at Broomfield, and can play inside and outside for a Mustangs team that is young, yet talented. The senior has also turned plenty of heads lately on the club circuit with BC Denver Basketball, and she’ll look to her 2018 Elite teammate, senior point guard Samantha Van Sickle, to help her catalyze the Mustangs offensively.

“I’ve got five starters, with Delaynie leading the way. I’m trying to find the sixth, seventh and eighth players who will also help us out this year,” Ralston Valley coach Jeff Gomer said. “We’ll have to have those contributions off the bench, especially during league and tournament games.”

Other usual suspects will also challenge

Highlands Ranch is again looking primed to add to coach Caryn Jarocki’s already historic legacy, with senior point guard Tommi Olson and junior power forward Autumn Watts headlining a Falcons roster that figures to once again be one of the deepest in the state. Lakewood, too, has used the summer to show the 2016 5A state runner-ups aren’t going anywhere thanks to the return of 6-4 twin towers Kira and Camilla Emsbo.

Plus, Front Range League teams such as Fairview and Horizon and Denver Public League squads George Washington and Denver East have also made some noise this June.

Source: denverpost

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Michel Cooper