Boys basketball was so good in Aurora this season that a starting six is necessary on the 2012-13 Aurora Sentinel All-City Basketball Team.
Though only five could take the court for an actual game — and did during a Blue Team victory in the Show All-Star Game April 6 at the Pepsi Center — six city players distinguished themselves as the cream of the crop in a golden era for Aurora prep basketball.
TreShawn Wilford of Class 5A state champion Eaglecrest, Aurora Central’s Carlton Hurst, Cherokee Trail’s Drick Bernstine, Grandview’s Eric Garcia, Rangeview’s Jeremiah Paige and Regis Jesuit’s Josh Perkins make up the starting six selected by the Sentinel with balloting from city coaches.
Seven Aurora teams earned top-10 rankings or received votes in the Denver Post’s preseason 5A coaches poll, but coach John Olander’s Eaglecrest team wasn’t among them. Yet it was the Raptors who hoisted the state championship trophy in March at the Coors Events Center after a decisive 63-44 victory over favored Denver East.
With Olander — the Sentinel’s slam dunk Coach of the Year — calling the shots and the defensive-minded Wilford (3.4 steals per game, 13.4 points) leading the charge, Eaglecrest (23-5) beat three of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament and won five games by an average margin of 14.2 points.
Wilford — the Raptors’ lone All-Centennial League first team selection — shone brightly in the championship game against Denver East with 21 points, including a number of highlight reel moves, in addition to nine rebounds. He’s signed with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs where he’ll play with another former All-City first teamer, Overland graduate Darius Pardner.
On their championship path, the Raptors knocked of Perkins and top-seeded Regis Jesuit in the Great 8. The 6-foot-2 point guard led 5A in scoring at 25.2 points per game and poured in 30 or more points six times. Perkins ramped up his passing game as a junior and averaged 6.5 assists per game — second in 5A — plus 6.9 rebounds per contest.
Perkins’ season made him even more of a coveted commodity for Division I college programs around the county. The Continental League Player of the Year received 30 scholarship offers, but pared the field down to Arizona, Colorado, Denver, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and Stanford.
Perkins split votes in the Sentinel’s Player of the Year race with Hurst, who signed with Colorado State prior to his senior season.
The explosive 6-2 guard — last season’s Sentinel Player of the Year and a three-time All-City first team pick — finished less than a point behind Perkins in scoring with an average of 24.3 points and had the city’s highest scoring game of the season when he lit up Denver South for 43 points.
Hurst, who earned MVP honors in the Show game, was the only Aurora player to average a double-double as he also pulled down 11.8 rebounds per contest. The East Metro Athletic Conference Player of the Year for a second straight season added 4.1 steals per game for good measure.
A member of coach Ian Calvert’s Aurora Central team that advanced to the 5A Final Four in his freshman season, Hurst averaged 24.7 points per game in his final three seasons.
Paige, Rangeview’s 6-foot-2 combo guard, boosted his stock significantly in the eyes of college programs as he ranked No. 5 among 5A scoring leaders with a 19.7 points-per-game average. His career high of 40 points came in the Raiders’ thrilling second round 5A playoff victory against Highlands Ranch.
Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming and Northern Colorado — among others — have already offered scholarships to the All-EMAC first team performer, who also averaged 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Paige is in the top handful of senior players in the state going into the 2013-14 season.
With his fiery demeanor and drastically improved skill set Bernstine helped lift Cherokee Trail to heights it had never seen since it moved up to 5A.
The Cougars won the Centennial League title and advanced to the 5A Great 8 for the first time in program history. Cherokee Trail lost to Mountain Vista in overtime, but Bernstine made several huge plays in crunch time and came up just short on a 75-footer at the buzzer that would have won the game.
The versatile 6-6 standout — a University of Denver signee — scored 30 points or more three times and averaged 19 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per contest, a significant improvement over last season when he averaged 11.3 ppg. The all-league first-teamer was selected for the Show, but did not play to rest a knee injury he suffered late in the regular season.
Garcia, a Wofford University signee, again played the role of floor general on a Grandview team that was a strong Centennial League contender.
An 87 percent free throw shooter, Garcia — who also made the All-City first team last season — knocked down 42 percent of his 3-point shots and averaged 19.1 points and 5.6 assists.
The All-Centennial League first team selection upped both of his vital numbers from 2012-13, when he averaged 18.1 points and 5.5 assists.
An illustration of Aurora’s depth is 6-foot-8 Overland freshman De’Ron Davis, considered by many recruiting services as the top player in the country in the class of 2016, on the All-City second team. Davis was selected to the Show all-star game as well.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at email@example.com or 303-750-7555
2012-13 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
FIRST TEAM: Drick Bernstine, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Eric Garcia, Grandview, sr.; Carlton Hurst, Aurora Central, sr.; Jeremiah Paige, Rangeview, jr.; Josh Perkins, Regis Jesuit, jr.; TreShawn Wilford, Eaglecrest, sr.; Co-players of the Year: Hurst, Perkins; Coach of the Year: John Olander, Eaglecrest
SECOND TEAM: Larry Bridges, Rangeview, sr.; Austin Conway, Overland, soph.; De’Ron Davis, Overland, fr.; Akram Imam, Grandview, jr.; Terry Wedgeworth, Hinkley, sr.
HONORABLE MENTION: Blend Avdili, Eaglecrest, soph.; Kip Boryla, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Trey Bridges, Rangeview, jr.; Noah Butler, Vista PEAK, soph.; Trent Clay, Smoky Hill, sr.; Branden Cosby-Lee, Grandview, sr.; Rayjon Craig, Eaglecrest, sr.; Tim Ealy, Rangeview, sr.; Tanner Gentry, Grandview, sr.; Anthony Holmes, Gateway, jr.; Leonard Hurst, Aurora Central, sr.; Jaisean Jackson, Eaglecrest, jr.; Devin Kadillak, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Jay Nelson, Cherokee Trail, sr.; RJ Perry, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Bryan Staerkel, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Eric Stemper, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Tyler Stephenson, Aurora Central, sr.; Ladarius Thomas, Aurora Central, fr.; Tre Thomas, Overland, jr.; Andrew Tillman, Overland, jr.; Sean Watkins, Eaglecrest, sr.; Chris Williams, Smoky Hill, jr.; T’Aren Williams, Overland, jr.; Solomon Yon, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Isaiah Young, Vista PEAK, soph.