Only two teams have officially nailed down league championships in Class 4A. Air Academy and Centaurus both earned wins on Monday to secure titles in the Pikes Peak and Northern conferences respectively. The remaining champions will be crowned throughout the week including a few that feature head-to-head matchups of league leaders.
Following the rundown of each league race, we also lay out the 48-team state tournament field by region.
Sitting at 19-2 on the season, George Washington has been one of the biggest surprises in girls’ basketball this season. The Patriots can claim the league championship by beating Denver East on Saturday. Both teams enter that game at 7-0 in conference play after each picked up a win on Monday night. A win for George Washington could also get them into a top two seed in one of the four regional brackets which will be announced on Sunday. Three other teams should join the Patriots in the 48-team field.
RPI: George Washington #10, Thomas Jefferson #23, Kennedy #37, Denver West #43
Fort Morgan needs just one more win to clinch the league championship and they have two games to do as the Mustangs meet Alameda on Tuesday and Arvada on Friday. Wins in both are likely as Fort Morgan won first meeting with the Pirates and Bulldogs by a combined 102 points. More importantly the Mustangs have climbed to 22nd in the latest RPI standings (Tuesday).
Skyview is the only other league team with a chance to make the 4A post-season as the Wolverines are 47th in RPI. They have a key game with Weld Central on Wednesday as a win there will be boost their chances. Skyview closes the season against Englewood on Friday.
Weld Central, Englewood and Fort Lupton drop into the 3A ranks for the post-season with Weld Central likely competing for a district title and a top eight seed.
RPI: Fort Morgan #22, Skyview #47, Conifer #59, Alameda #66
COLORADO SPRINGS METRO
Mesa Ridge leads Classical Academy by two games with two league games remaining so they can clinch the champoinship by winning one more game. They close the regular season with games against Canon City Tuesday and Sierra on Thursday. Classical Academy leads Sierra by one game in the race for second and opened that game with a win over Stallions in their last game. To stay alone in second, the Titans must beat both Widefield Tuesday and Harrison on Thursday or grab one win if Mesa Ridge beats Sierra this week. Sierra cannot drop lower than third place as they have a two game edge on Widefield and Canon City with only one conference game remaining.
RPI: Mesa Ridge #9, Classical Academy #21, Elizabeth #31, Sierra #32, Canon City #40, Widefield #45
Tuesday’s meeting between Evergreen and Golden will likely determine the championship. Both teams are 10-2 in league play and share the conference lead. Golden won the first meeting 43-41 so they clinch the title with another victory. Evergreen, to win the championship outright, must beat Golden and Standley Lake on Friday.
Valor Christian’s recent hot streak has gotten the defending state champions up to third in the standings but they don’t have enough time to catch Golden and Evergreen. Still, the Eagles have zoomed up to sixth in the RPI polls and could get a top two seed in one of the four regionals. Valor has a one-game lead on D’Evelyn and will stay in third by winning their final two games against Standley Lake and Littleton. Littleton stunned the Eagles 43-36 in their first meeting.
RPI: Evergreen #3, Valor Christian #6, Golden #12, D’Evelyn #14, Green Mountain #17, Littleton #30, Standley Lake #51
Centaurus used their Monday win over Niwot to lock up the conference championship. The Warriors entered the final week with a one game edge on Greeley Central but two wins over the Wildcats meant Centaurus needed just one win to wrap it up. They’ll close the season at Silver Creek on Wednesday.
Greeley Central edged Thompson Valley 46-44 on Monday for their fourth straight win and with it, secured second place. Their last game is Wednesday at Mountain View.
Even though the top two teams have secured their positions, their regular season finales will impact third and fourth. Mountain View leads Silver Creek by one game in that chase and if they end up tied, Silver Creek gets third as they knocked off the Lions twice in league play. Of course, if both teams win, then the positions remain unchanged but losses by both leave Mountain View in third and Silver Creek sliding into a fourth-place tie with Longmont if the Trojans also beat Thompson Valley.
RPI: Centaurus #20, Silver Creek #28, Greeley Central #33, Mountain View #38, Longmont #41, Thompson Valley #44, Niwot #48
Air Academy moved to 12-1 in conference play by beating Cheyenne Mountain on Monday night and the victory clinched the league championship for the Kadets. They opened the final seven days of the schedule with a one game edge on Discovery Canyon but since they have two wins over the Thunder, Air Academy locked up the crown with Monday’s win. They have one more regular season game remaining at Lewis Palmer on Wednesday.
Discovery Canyon is second and two games up on Falcon. The two teams meet on Friday but that game becomes meaningless to the league standings if DC beats Vista Ridge on Wednesday. A win wraps up second for the Thunder and leaves Falcon in third place. The Falcons cannot fall farther as they have a three-game edge over Cheyenne Mountain and Palmer Ridge with two games remaining.
RPI: Air Academy #4, Discovery Canyon #13, Falcon #19, Palmer Ridge #25, Cheyenne Mountain #39, Sand Creek #49
The key result from last week came on Friday as Pueblo West knocked off Pueblo South. The result left both teams at 7-1 in league play going into their final two games. Both teams have a game remaining with third place and top ten ranked Pueblo East so there’s a chance that one of them could fall off the pace.
Another important outcome from last week saw Pueblo County stun Pueblo County. For the Eagles, it was their third conference loss so they trail the leaders by two games. That means they can beat both Pueblo South and Pueblo West this week but not earn a share of the championship. They would still fall short of the top spot if either the Colts or Cyclones won their other conference game. Pueblo County can move into a third-place tie with East if the Eagles lose twice and the Hornets beat both Pueblo Centennial and Pueblo Central as expected.
Pueblo South and Pueblo West are in position to land the top two overall seeds in the state tournament bracket and if that happens, it sets up the possibility of the two meeting for a third time in the state championship. Pueblo East also seems solid to land a first round bye.
RPI: Pueblo South #1, Pueblo West #2, Pueblo East #8, Pueblo County #34, Pueblo Central #53
Durango still has a slim chance to sharing the league championship but those hopes will be taken away if Fruita Monument beats Grand Junction on Tuesday. With a win, Fruita Monument finishes the conference season at 7-1 and Durango can only get to 6-2 by beating Montrose and Grand Junction on Friday and Saturday. If Fruita is upset by Grand Junction, then Durango shares the title by winning their final two games. Durango beat Fruita Monument last week to remain in contention; if only slightly.
Since neither Durango nor Montrose will win the championship outright, both will rely on RPI standings to get an-large berth into the state tournament bracket. Both are in the top 20 and safely into the field.
RPI: Montrose #16, Durango #18
Holy Family took control of the championship race by beating Windsor last week. The win moved the Tigers one game up on the Wizards with two games to play. Since Windsor won the first meeting with Holy Family, the Tigers still need two wins to grab the championship outright. The Tigers host Mead on Tuesday and then visit Roosevelt in their finale on Friday.
If Holy Family wins that game, then Windsor can secure second place by winning at Berthoud on Tuesday. If both teams drop their Tuesday games, then the Friday battle between Mead and Berthoud will factor into spots three and four.
RPI: Holy Family #5, Windsor #7, Berthoud #24, Mead #27, Erie #36, Skyline #54
Rifle leads Palisade and since they split two games with the Bulldogs, the Bears still need two wins to land the outright championship. The Bears go to Steamboat Springs on Tuesday and then host Glenwood Springs on Thursday. Palisade has one league game remaining with Battle Mountain on Friday but that game becomes meaningless if Rifle wins twice before tipoff. Even with a loss, Palisade is guaranteed a top two league finish.
Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley are battling for third place and the two will end up sharing the position of the Demons lose to Rifle and the Devils beat both Summit (Tuesday) and Battle Mountain (Thursday). A different result in any of the three games puts Glenwood Springs to third and Eagle Valley fourth.
RPI: Rifle #11, Palisade #15, Glenwood Springs #29, Eagle Valley #35, Battle Mountain #50
TEAMS MOVING DOWN FROM CLASS 5A
Mullen, Vista Peak, and Ponderosa compete in the 5A Centennial, East Metro and Continental conferences through the regular season but come into the 4A bracket for the playoffs. All three must qualify through RPI standings and right now, Mullen is the only team safely in the field. They sit 26th in the RPI standings but Vista Peak (#42) and Ponderosa (#46) could be considered “on the bubble”.
PLAYOFF BRACKET (CORRECTED)
State tournament pairings will be released on Sunday and the top 16 seeds will earn first round byes. League champions are guaranteed a spot in the top 32 if they finish in the top 32 of the RPI standings. Using current league standings and RPI numbers from Tuesday, we’ve put together a list of state qualifiers and how they might be placed in regionals. Region One will be paired up with Region Four for one semifinal and Regions Two and Three for the other.
First round games would place #5 vs #12, #6 vs #11, #7 vs #10 and #8 vs #9 with winners advancing to a second round game against a top four seed. Higher seeds host games until the tournament moves to the Denver Coliseum for the Final Four.
NOTE: We were notified that league champions are not guaranteed a berth in the top 16 and instead are guaranteed a top 32 seed even if they finish outside the top 32 in RPI points. Right now there is not a conference champion outside the top 32 in RPI so the bracket is virtually true seeded with the exception that teams in positions 33-42 could be moved for geographical purposes.
1. Pueblo South (#1 overall seed)
2. Pueblo East
3. Mesa Ridge
5. Green Mountain
7. Palmer Ridge
9. Greeley Central
10. Canon City
1. Pueblo West (#2 overall seed)
3. George Washington
6. Thomas Jefferson
9. Pueblo County
10. Cheyenne Mountain
11. Vista Peak
1. Evergreen (#3 overall seed)
2. Valor Christian
6. Fort Morgan
9. Eagle Valley
10. Mountain View
11. Denver West
1. Air Academy (#4 overall seed)
2. Holy Family
4. Discovery Canyon
6. Classical Academy
7. Silver Creek
8. Glenwood Springs
11. Thompson Valley