This weekend the 2019 USA U18 3x3 basketball national championships took over Colorado Springs with more than 100 of the nation’s top players hoping to take home the crown - including a Colorado Springs-area team that battled to the national semifinals.
Local seniors Noah Baca (Lewis-Palmer) and Rhaven Brown (Falcon) joined Eaglecrest junior Zion Ruckard on team PLUTO, which entered the field of 12 men’s teams from across the country on Saturday. The team finished Day 1 of the tournament with a 4-1 record to earn a first-round bye heading into the final day of competition. PLUTO fell in the semifinals to the eventual national champions, Team Attack, which was a team hand-picked by USA basketball of the nation’s top 3x3 prospects.
PLUTO’s only loss of Day 1 competition was to the other men’s team picked by USA basketball - Team Pursuit in a 21-20 loss.
“I feel like we should have gone 5-0, I think we could have beat Team Pursuit,” Brown said. “But they were a good team they were just a lot bigger than us so once they got under the rim there wasn’t much we could do.
It was really cool to be able to say we beat a lot of these teams from across the country. It’s for sure a confidence booster.”
In addition to making waves as the state’s only men’s team to make it to Day 2 of competition, team PLUTO battled without any subs.
“At first I didn’t know we were going to be playing the top 100 kids in the country, but it was really cool,” Brown said. “This is the first time I’ve even met Zion, and it was the first time Noah met him, so I think we played pretty well. It was just a cool experience and something new.”
The tournament, which was held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center also served as the USA U18 team trials for the 3x3 World Cup team.
By Lindsey Smith, Gazette Preps
4A state baseball champs to be crowned in Colorado Springs
Before Security Service Field plays host to the city’s new era of Class A rookie-advanced baseball with the Rocky Mountain Vibes in late June, the venue first will be the site of the 4A state high school baseball tournament, May 24-25 and May 31-June 1.
The tournament previously was held in the Denver area, but the Colorado High School Activities Association was looking at a different community as a host after Metro State, one of two sites in the past – along with All-Star Park in Lakewood, had a conflict and pulled out of contention.
As a result, Security Service Field and Mountain Lion Park at UCCS will host the first weekend, with the Vibes’ home serving as the exclusive guests on the final weekend.
According to CHSAA, a state baseball tournament hasn’t been held in Colorado Springs for at least a decade.
Season’s final NLI signing date takes place Wednesday
On Wednesday, basketball players who are headed to the Division I level this fall can begin signing national letters of intent to attend school and compete athletically at the next level.
The program, which started with seven conference and eight independent institutions in 1964, now includes 657 Division I and II participating colleges and universities.
The NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI-member school; the student agrees to attend the college or university for one academic year, and the institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for the same period.
Top track and field marks set this weekend
One day before the heavy, wet snow fell on the Pikes Peak region late Saturday afternoon, a pair of top marks in track and field were recorded, courtesy of the Petrelli & Hunt Invitational, held Friday at Garry Berry Stadium.
Doherty’s 400-meter relay team recorded the fastest time in the boys’ division, stopping the clock in 42.42 seconds.
In the long jump, Canon City senior Brendan Young unleashed an effort of 23 feet, 9 ½ feet, another that took over as the top mark in the state, regardless of classification.
Coaching update: Longtime Pine Creek coach Lehman steps away from boys’ tennis program
Dave Lehman has coached high school tennis long enough, especially in the fall months.
Now, it’s time to travel.
“My wife is retired now, it’s a good time to move on to other things,” said Lehman, who recently stepped away from the boys’ tennis program at Pine Creek but will continue to coach the girls’ program. “September and October is a nice time to travel, but with tennis in the fall, we haven’t seen our family or been to a reunion in years. There are things I haven’t seen yet.”
Lehman, who retired from the military in 1995 and began his coaching career at Doherty the next year, arrived at Pine Creek in 2003 to lead the boys’ program in 2003. Two years later, he took on the girls’ program at the northeast Colorado Springs school.
The Pennsylvania native also served as the club pro at Lynmar Racquet and Health Club from 1995-2008 before Life Time Fitness took over operations. He remained on Life Time’s staff until 2014 and continues to teach private lessons and also runs a pro shop out of his residence.
Coronado names Leonhardt new volleyball coach
Coronado found a native west-sider to coach its volleyball team when Manitou Springs graduate Crissy (Skokan) Leonhardt recently accepted the position
Leonhardt, a 2008 Manitou Springs graduate, spent the past four years as the assistant varsity coach at Lewis-Palmer.
An all-state and all-conference selection as a senior middle blocker at Manitou, she continued her career in college at Charleston Southern before returning to the Pikes Peak region.
Pine Creek finds familiar face to lead softball program
Kerri Millikan, who has more than 20 years of club and high school coaching experience, was recently named softball coach at Pine Creek.
She replaced Janelle Krohn, who recently stepped down after three seasons and a 37-29-1 record.
Millikan, an all-state pitcher from Nevada, graduated from CSU-Pueblo and was a three-year all-conference selection and is a member of the ThunderWolves’ Hall of Fame. She also earned a spot on the prestigious Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference All-Century Team.
She began her coaching career at Rampart and spent the past 10 years at Falcon and led the Falcons to the 4A state tournament in 2015.