Lewis-Palmer is No. 1. No wait, Wasson is No. 1.
So who is the Pikes Peak region’s best boys’ basketball team?
The Rangers (20-3), the defending 4A state champion, along with the Thunderbirds (22-1), owners of 4A's longest winning streak (17 games) and down to one final playoff run before the school closes later this year, earned top seeds in their respective regions as area teams earned five first-round byes.
“It’s scary how balanced and strong our area is,” Lewis-Palmer coach Russ McKinstry said. “I’m glad the committee was wise enough and did a fair bracket. It’s the way it should have been with the balance throughout the state in 4A.”
Wasson, which played its final regular-season game Feb. 12 to hundreds of alumni, along with current and former coaches, teachers and students, will play host to a round of 16 tournament this weekend. The same holds true for Lewis-Palmer and all Nos. 1 and 2 seeds.
If the top seeding holds out, Lewis-Palmer and Wasson would meet in a state semifinal March 15 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
In addition to the two No. 1 seeds, Sand Creek (21-3) is ranked second and will host a round of 16 tournament Friday-Saturday. No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain (17-6) is at the bottom of the Lewis-Palmer bracket and will play at Pueblo East this weekend. The Indians and Rangers could meet in a round of eight game March 9 at the Denver Coliseum.
No. 4 Widefield (17-6), which finished a distant second to Wasson in the 4A Metro League, was placed in the same bracket with Sand Creek and will head to Highlands Ranch this weekend, where top-seeded Valor Christian (18-4) will host.
Discovery Canyon (16-7), Sierra (14-9) and Falcon (13-10) will host first-round games Wednesday, while Coronado (12-11) and Mesa Ridge (9-14) will open up on the road.
The 5A bracket was far less equitable to Colorado Springs area schools.
Colorado Springs Metro League champion Fountain-Fort Carson (15-7) earned a first-round bye but is ranked No. 4, on track with a possible round of 16 matchup with Denver East (21-2), widely considered the best team in the state.
Five schools from the Metro League earned playoff berths. Liberty (15-8), ranked No. 7, and No. 8 Pine Creek (11-12), will host first-round games on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Doherty (13-10) and Rampart (11-12) open up on the road.
“I don’t think we get a lot of respect down here,” said Liberty coach Ivan Chambers, whose Lancers went 8-1 down the stretch. “Our league doesn’t have any signature wins against other teams up north. Regardless, you have to show up and play ball. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to earn some respect this week.”