For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the Woodland Park boys’ basketball team will be without Skye Ciccarelli. The four-year starter, arguably one of the greatest players to ever don a Panthers uniform, averaged 18 points per game and scored a school-record 1,500-plus points over his high school career.
“It’s hard to replace a ballplayer like Skye,” said Woodland Park coach John Paul Geniesse. “But he was also such a great young man. We will miss those attributes.”
With Ciccarelli now a high jumper at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the new-look Panthers will likely rely on the senior duo of Markus Eiselein (14.5 ppg last winter) and Joey Babin (6.3 ppg) to fill up the scoring column.
“Markus and Joey have three years of experience on varsity, even starting some as sophomores,” Geniesse said. “They will be counted on to be our leaders, along with our other four seniors.”
The rest of this year’s senior class consists of Vaughn Rea, Chris Riley, Hunter Peel and Nick Warren, who missed last season due to an injury.
Junior Bryson Cox is also expected to play a key role.
“Most of these guys have lots of minutes played between their freshman year and now,” said Geniesse, who is in his sixth season as Woodland Park’s lead man.
The Panthers held their first official practice on Monday. On Dec. 3, they host Pueblo County in their season opener. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
Woodland Park plays six games in December before taking the mandatory CHSAA winter break. The Panthers will also have games at Littleton and three games in the Steamboat Springs Tournament, before hosting Pueblo Central on Dec. 17.
Woodland Park was 6-17 last winter (5-11 in the Class 4A Metro League) and missed the field of 48 playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.
Beginning in 2020-21, the Panthers will move down to the 3A Tri-Peaks League. Their petition to move down was granted by CHSAA earlier this year.
“It will put us in a more competitive league and give us a chance to have better success,” Woodland Park athletic director Joe Roskam said.
Craig Macari takes over the Woodland Park girls’ basketball team. He inherits a veteran squad that includes seniors Jada Boddy (3.8 ppg, 5.3 rebounds per game), Dacotah Simonis (3.5 ppg), Sage Drummond (3.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Sarah Iskra (8.3 ppg, 3.2 assists per game), and sophomore Rachel Simmons.
The Panthers (7-16, 6-10 last season) have not played a postseason game in more than a dozen years.
Woodland Park opens its season at home on Dec. 2 against George Washington in a 6 p.m. tipoff.