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Looking ahead to the 2013-14 boys basketball season

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By Michael Hicks

Five story lines lines to watch for as the 2013-14 boys basketball season gets under way:

THE ONLY ONE. Chatfield, like Columbine, is dealing with its own mass turnover on the roster, especially in the starting lineup. Andrew St. Germain is the lone returning starter for the Chargers, who went 23-2 a season ago and reached the Sweet 16 for the 5A state tournament before being ousted by Legend. Chatfield will get tested early, starting Dec. 7 against fellow 5A state qualifier Arapahoe.

A LOT OF NEW FACES. Jon Snow, gone. Garrett Hyde, the same. As are Brad Crowther and Ty McMinimee. In all, Columbine High graduated six seniors, including five starters. The Rebels will turn to 6-foot-8 senior Brandon Wilson to lead a relatively young team this season. While he’s paving the way, teammates Tucker Holden, Michael Tait, Antonio Chavez and others will see quality minutes to help Columbine get back to state this season.

SECOND ACT. Coaching at Front Range Christian was quite the change for Brad Folk. The first-year head coach had coached the previous two years at startup Vista Peak and prior to that as the JV coach at ThunderRidge. But now, entering his second year leading the Falcons, Folk is looking to take Front Range Christian even further. “I learned a lot, and we developed a lot over the summer,” he said of his team.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Dakota Ridge best have its bags packed. OK, it’s high school basketball, so the travel isn’t THAT far, but the Eagles will open the season with five consecutive road games, including three straight at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins as part of its invitational. Dakota Ridge will also close the regular season with five of seven games away from home.

LIONS’ LAST HURRAH. Six-foot-seven Tim Ladwig, a senior forward/center, will lead Littleton this season with a much more polished game. He’ll also hope to leave a lasting impression on the 5A/4A Continental League as well as the Lions move down to 4A Jeffco next season. Littleton will get a little taste of the competition in the 4A Jeffco with back-to-back games against Conifer (Dec. 19) and Evergreen (Jan. 4). The games are sandwiched around the Christmas break.

CAPSULE PREVIEWS
CHATFIELD CHARGERS
Head coach: Steve Schimpeler
Assistant coaches: Gary Anderson, Todd Glasser, Brad Simons
Conference: 5A Jeffco
2012-13 record: 23-2
2012-13 recap: It was quite the season for the Chargers. Chatfield went 16-0 en route to a conference championship before being bounced in the Sweet 16 by Legend.
Players to watch for: Andrew St. Germain, Sr.; Alec Wray, Sr.; Austin Rice, Sr.; Riley Welch, Soph.
Key losses: Brenden Mann, Michael Hampson, Hank Dickey, Anthony Shoeboot
Outlook: Chatfield graduated a wealth of talent, but the cupboards were hardly left bare. The Chargers bring back St. Germain, Wray and Rice to pave the way with up-and-comer Welch ready to provide a spark.

COLUMBINE REBELS
Head coach: Clay Thielking
Assistant coaches:
David Berghoefer, Lorens Knudsen
Conference: 5A Jeffco
2012-13 record: 18-6
2012-13 recap: Columbine went 13-3 in the 5A Jeffco League, placing second in the conference. The Rebels were bounced in the second round of the state tournament by Arapahoe.
Players to watch for: Antonio Chavez, Jr., 5-8, G; Michael Tait, Jr., 5-10, G; Dan DeGraaf, Jr., 6-5, F/C; Tucker Holden, Jr., 5-10; Tristan Storm, Sr., 6-3, F; Jake Lowry, Soph., 5-9, G; Keaton Matthies, Jr., 6-2, F; Brandon Wilson, Sr., 6-8, C
Key losses: Jon Snow, Garrett Hyde, Brad Crowther, Ty McMinimee
Outlook: “We have a lot of new faces and many unanswered questions,” Thielking said. Columbine graduated the bulk of its offense from last year. Overall, the Rebels graduated six seniors, five of whom started for them.

DAKOTA RIDGE EAGLES
Head coach: Curi Yutzy
Assistant coaches: Mike Lundy, Sean Burnham, Doug Mitchell,
Bryan Despain
Conference: 5A Jeffco
2012-13 record: 12-13
2012-13 recap: The Eagles struggled down the stretch, dropping five of their last seven. Dakota Ridge reached the second round of the 5A playoffs.
Players to watch for: Ian MacDonald, Sr., 6-9, F; Jacob Flores, Sr., 6-1, G; Mason Grothuesmann, Jr., 6-1, G; Alden Erickson, Jr., 6-4, F
Key loss: Elijah Davis
Outlook: Yutzy was impressed by Dakota Ridge’s play in the summer. “All we are focused on this year is growing each day. When we do that, I think we will like where we stand,” Yutzy said.

FRONT RANGE CHRISTIAN FALCONS
Head coach: Brad Folk
Assistant coaches: Dennis Raarup, Vaughn Larsen, Tito Garcia
Conference: 2A Mile High
2012-13 record: 8-13
2012-13 recap: Front Range Christian, in Folk’s first year as head coach, finished 5-5 in league play, right in the middle of the pack. The Falcons dropped six of their final eight games, including a 2A District 4 battle at Byers.
Players to watch for: Braidon McLean, Jr., 5-11, PG; Boomer Bate, Sr., 6-3, F; Elijah Bervik, Soph., 6-4, C
Key losses: Ty Gautier, Leif Larsen, Cobi Jones
Outlook: Front Range Christian will look to continue developing a program with raised expectations in Folk’s second year at the helm. A deep freshman and sophomore class will help matters.

LITTLETON LIONS
Head coach: Ryan Fletcher
Assistant coaches: Ryan Marini, Jay Brown, Justin Camisa, Marc Quinn
Conference: 5A/4A Continental
2012-13 record: 9-15
2012-13 recap: The Lions went 3-8 in league play, but qualified for the 5A state tournament. Littleton was bounced by Cherry Creek.
Players to watch for: Tyus Gallegos-Jones, Sr., 6-0, PG/SG; Seth Nice, Sr., 5-10, PG/SG; Zach Valadez, Jr., 6-2, SF; Tim Ladwig, Sr., 6-7, PF/C; Austin Bieber, Sr., 6-4, PF/C
Key losses: N/A
Outlook: Fletcher expects Littleton’s overall depth and athleticism to carry the Lions this season. “We should be competitive with our athleticism and size,” Fletcher said.