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5A 2024 Final 4 Preview


We have made it to the final weekend of the regular season, and by Sunday afternoon, the 5A Boys State Champion will be crowned. As wild as the 5A season started out, it might have just as wild and competitive finals. Northfield, Vista Peak, Mesa Ridge, and Windsor have been in the BballCO Top10 all season and they all share many of the same characteristics: they play fast, tough guards that will defend, and they play as a team. However, they are different. Mesa Ridge is the defending state champ and has the Riehl duo that is as tough as any guard combo out there. Northfield plays a different brand of basketball that lets everyone eat. Vista Peaks size can not be matched. Windsor is made up of role players and two of the top players in their position in their classes.

12:45 Vista Peak vs Windsor

When the Vista Peak Bison and the Windsor Wizards tip-off tomorrow at the Denver Coliseum it will be their second meeting of the season. In the first meeting back in December, Vista Peak took a 65-48 victory. The Bison showed off their long and athletic defense, which flustered the Wizards in the second half of the game, allowing the Bison to build a large lead mid-way through the 4th quarter. Vista Peak had four scorers in double figures, led by 18 from senior for Kyree Polk. Wizard got 22 points from sophomore guard Madden Smiley.

From MaxPreps, we see that what separates the two teams is the Bison’s ability to score and create turnovers.

Team Stat Comparison

Vista PEAK PrepWindsor
72.0Points Per Game67.0
37.2Rebounds Per Game32.7
15.1Assists Per Game15.2
9.7Steals Per Game8.8
2.6Blocks Per Game2.2

In the Great 8, the Wizards had to hold off a pesky Lewis-Palmer team. Meanwhile, Vista Peak left no doubt about who was the better team, simply out-scoring and out-defending Ponderosa in every facet of the game.

What stands out between the two teams is that Windsor can fall into scoring slumps. Smiley is skilled enough to hunt his own shots and so is Johnnie Reed. But the rest of the Wizards need a bit of help finding their shots. Vista Peak shares the ball well which leads to easy baskets.

VP is one of the rare teams that can play fast (which they rather do) or slow. Polk has such a size advantage on most teams that a good entry pass will result in two easy points. Especially with James Brown III hanging about for the rebound should Polk miss. The Bison guards are tough and have zero fear with a shot or a pass. He sometimes gets looked over but the secret to the Bison is Alante Monroe-Elazier. He is a senior who is very versatile and can play spots 1-4 if he needs to. On either end of the floor, he gets it done.

Who wins ?

VP wins if they play the way they have all year. Attack the basket, feed the big man, be smart shooting the 3’s, and defend like no other. The Bison will need to keep Smiley and Reed under wraps. They won’t get it as easy as they did against Ponderosa. Windsor is a much more disciplined and mature team. VP will need to control the boards as well.

Windsor wins if Reed and the other Windsor bigs can make it tough and messy in the lane all the while staying out of foul trouble. They have to force the VP into a jump-shooting team. They also need to keep VP from running their secondary break and limiting their fast break opportunities. Also someone will need to provide a scoring punch besides Smiley and Reed. Maybe it will be John Backhaus and his ability to shoot 3’s.

Our pick – Vista Peaks inside presence and guard speed might be too much again for the Wizards.

4:00 Mesa Ridge vs. Northfield

At the beginning of the 5A tournament this was the matchup we were hoping would materialize. Mesa Ridge has been unbeatable since Christmas, and so has Northfield. Both teams have knocked off multiple Top10 teams to get to this point. Both teams are built to defend, play hard, and smart.

From MaxPreps, we see that both teams aren’t that different.

Team Stat Comparison

Mesa RidgeNorthfield
67.8Points Per Game72.4
27.0Rebounds Per Game28.2
16.9Assists Per Game14.7
11.7Steals Per Game13.1
3.7Blocks Per Game3.2

Mesa Ridge is the defending state champ, and while they look different than last year and may play a step slower, they have the Riehl brothers. While the Riehls lead the way, the rest of the starting five are just as able to score. The Grizzlies understand their roles, and they play for each other. Zander Iwanski and Tanner Widic are tough strong players that can defend multiple positions and can give defenders the business.

Northfield’s leading scorer is Justus Michael. The 6’2 senior has had a stellar senior season. But he isn’t the only one. Six players are averaging at least eight points or better. Daquan Slayton leads in assists, steals, and rebounds.

Who Wins?

Mesa Ridge has an advantage with their best players having been in this position before. The Grizzlies want to play inside out. Attack the rim and then find the open shooters like the Riehls on the wing. They will need to defend and force Northfield to take poor shots. The Grizzlies will need to stay out of foul trouble.

Northfield will need to use its size and defense to its advantage. They may not want to press the Grizzlies, but the less time the Riehls have the ball in their hands, the better. Northfield will want to control the boards on both ends of the floor and limit the Grizzlies to one-and-done offensive possessions. It would also be helpful if Justus Michael stays out of foul trouble.

Our Pick – Mesa Ridge. It will be close, though, but the experience pays off one more time for the Grizzlies.

Who wins the title ? Vista Peak. Their size and defense could pull it off.