Intensity climbs in playoffs


State playoff action in 4A and 5A high school basketball started last week with the first two rounds, and there is nothing better that watching playoff action in any sport.

The intensity and competition in most games increases, and there is usually a surprise or two along the way to the finals.

In the Class 5A boys bracket, Rangeview was top-seeded and Valor Christian was the No. 1 seed in the girls Class 5A.

I figured it would be good to talk with somebody that has been through playoff competition, so I reached out to Dick Katte, the winningest Colorado high school boys coach, with 867 victories in 48 seasons at Denver Christian, where he guided teams to eight state titles.

“I’m always anxious for these three weeks of the season,” said Katte, who watches many games during the season. “I love to watch the play, but in my heart it is the toughest thing that I still miss. Those kinds of games, working with players and asking them to step up, is really an intangible thing.”

It seems to me that teams have to have a little luck, quality talent plus depth, good preparation, a winning demeanor and a confident mental attitude to succeed.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen enough teams to make any judgment on who should be considered,” said Katte about the boys 5A brackets. “I know that the goods are good. I’ve seen Rangeview. They are good. I’ve seen Grandview and they are good and I think Cherry Creek is very good.”

Here are a few more thoughts from Katte about the state tournament basketball playoffs.

“You know that if you are going to win the whole thing that somewhere along the way you are going to have to beat somebody that maybe you shouldn’t have,” offered Katte. “When you did it as long as I did it, I think that there were times where we should have won but didn’t win the game that was on the line, but there were also times we did win when there were teams better than us.

“It’s how you prepare players to play against teams that are better than you. Good athletes will win for you when you have tournament brackets like we have in these three playoff weeks.”

There is no way I can overlook the girls 5A state bracket.

Highlands Ranch coach Caryn Jarocki is the state leader with 660 wins and seven state championships so it’s hard not to say the Falcons, seeded sixth this season, could be the team to watch in the playoffs.

No team likes to see Highlands Ranch on its side of the bracket.

Defending champion Cherry Creek, top-seeded Valor Christian, Grandview, Regis Jesuit and Ralston Valley all have strong teams that have the potential to advance.

Class 3A boys and girls basketball teams completed district play last weekend and the state hockey playoffs are ready for the semifinals on March 5.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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