Berthoud winter sports wrap-up
By Dan Karpiel
The winter sports season brings boys and girls basketball as well as wrestling, and this winter all three Berthoud High School (BHS) teams turned in seasons to be proud of. Berthoud sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament, five of whom placed at the annual event, with junior Austyn Binkly winning the state championship in the 138-pound class. The girls basketball team turned in another strong season, making the state playoffs and advancing to the second round; while the boys team, that came up just a hair short of qualifying for the postseason, turned in their best season in five years. Below is a wrap-up of the BHS winter sports, as well our picks for the players of the year on each team.
Berthoud Head Coach Mike Burkett knew when he took the job three years ago that rebuilding the BHS boys basketball program was going to take time. The 2017-18 season provided Burkett and his team with some satisfaction that the program is headed in the right direction. The Spartans finished the year 7-16 overall and 5-9 in league play, marking the team’s best finish in five years.
Not blessed with the size of many of their opponents, the Spartans employed a dribble-drive approach on offense that took advantage of their athleticism and outside shooting prowess to finish the season with the third-best points-per-game (PPG) scoring average in the eight-team Tri-Valley Conference (TVC). Berthoud’s 63.1 PPG was bested by only Roosevelt (63.6) and conference champion Windsor (65.1) in the regular season.
Berthoud’s approach was to play at a fast tempo, spread the floor and attack the basket. Wyatt Stratmeyer and Curtis Peacock would drive the lane, forcing the defense to collapse where the pair would attempt lay-ups, draw fouls, or dish the ball outside for open looks on the perimeter. Stratmeyer and Peacock each attempted over 100 free-throws on the season, with Stratmeyer’s 141 made being the second-best mark in all of class 4A. Peacock finished the season leading the Spartans in scoring average (14.6 points per game) with Stratmeyer (13.7) and Jake Lozinski (11.0) not far behind. Ben Burkett made a team-high 41 three-pointers and Cameron Poll made another 39. Lozinski made 26 and also paced the team in total rebounds (146) and steals (52).
Stratmeyer, along with key contributors Jake Yuska and Trinity Buckley will be lost to graduation; but Burkett, Peacock, Lozinski, Poll and sophomore Shane Grimes are key players who will return next year.
Surveyor Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Wyatt Stratmeyer
The BHS girls basketball team entered the 2017-18 season with a new coach at the helm. Alan Gibson returned to the BHS sidelines for his second stint as the Lady Spartans leading man and picked up where he left off a decade and a half ago.
Berthoud turned in another stellar season, finishing the year 18-7 overall and 8-6 in the super-tough TVC, good enough for another trip to the 4A state playoffs. The Lady Spartans earned the No. 17 seed and took care of business against No. 48 Pueblo Central, winning 80-59 in what was their final home game of the year. The second round of state proved tougher as Berthoud faced off with No. 16 Greeley Central who got the best of Berthoud, winning 65-53 to end the Lady Spartans season earlier than they had hoped.
Even though the season came to an end earlier than Berthoud would have preferred, there were an almost countless number of positives on Gibson’s team, and the future appears extraordinarily bright. Sophomore Emily Cavey turned in an All State-caliber season where she led Berthoud in scoring, rebounding and steals. Cavey’s 19.6 points per game average was not only the top mark on the Berthoud squad and in the TVC, but was the second-best mark in all of Class 4A.
Cavey is one of several underclassmen – along with Logan Davidson, Bre Fowler, Sydney Meis, Eriana Rennaker and Celsey Selland – who thrived in Gibson’s system that employed a more ad-lib approach on offense and an adaptable defense relative to years past. The Lady Spartans responded well to the more dynamic play style and entered state as the No. 17 seed, which marked an improvement from No. 29 the year prior.
Meis turned in an all-around excellent season, as the junior led the team in three-pointers made and was second in points and assists. Davidson, a junior who transferred to Berthoud from Northridge this year, was also stellar, finishing the year third in scoring and second in both rebounds and steals. Fowler, just a freshman, adapted to the high school varsity level quickly and finished the year leading Berthoud with 83 assists.
Surveyor Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Emily Cavey
The Berthoud wrestling program, long one of school’s most consistently successful programs, also saw a change at the top this year. Long-time assist Will Carron replaced Scott Pickert, who retired following the 2016-17 season, and Carron’s grapplers did not miss a beat.
Disrespected by the voters to begin the year, the Berthoud wrestling team once again finished the season as one of the state’s top programs. Berthoud sent seven wrestlers – Dalton Williams, Kolten Strait, L.T. Torres, Aus
tyn Binkly, Wyatt Larson, Brock Johnson and C.J. Balliet – to the state tournament at the Pepsi Center. Five of the seven brought home medals; with Johnson taking sixth, Larson placing fourth, Williams earning third, Strait taking second as a freshman, and Binkly bringing home the gold medal. Berthoud’s strong showing at state propelled the Spartans to a fourth-place finish in team scoring at the state tournament after beginning the year ranked outside the top-15.
Binkly marched through the 138s at the state tournament, winning with a pin in the opening round and then 8-3 and 3-1 decisions in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before facing off with Eaton’s Aerial Rodriguez in the championship match. Binkly had defeated Rodriguez a week earlier in the regional tournament in a 1-0 decision and the result at state was not as close, as Binkly was in control the full six minutes, eventually winning the state title with an 8-4 decision. It was the junior’s first state championship but his third time in as many seasons as a state medalist.
While Binkly was consistently ranked throughout the season and entered state as a regional champion and the No. 1 overall seed in the 138 weight class, many of his teammates improved as the season went on and wrestled their best at the end of the season. Strait, who also entered as a regional champion in 113s, won three decisions, including a 5-0 decision over No. 1-seed Elijah DeLaCerda of powerhouse Alamosa to advance to the championship match. While Strait was on the other end of a 6-2 decision in the title bout, his second-place finished was an extraordinary achievement for a freshman.
Surveyor Wrestler of the Year: Austyn Binkly
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