BOYS BASKETBALL: 2A/1A Conference Breakdown
It took over 4,000 words and several hours to compile but we have put together conference information for Classes 2A and 1A. A few leagues complete their conference schedules this week so champions there will be known by the weekend but in most cases, champions may not be crowned until next week. All teams are also looking at where they stand seed-wise for the district tournaments to find out what they need to do over the next two weeks to improve their position in the bracket.
1A – 5280
Denver Jewish Day has already beaten 2nd ranked Shining Mountain so they can clinch the league championship by beating Community Christian on Thursday. The Crusaders are coming off a lopsided loss to Shining Mountain on Tuesday that dropped them into third place where they’re battling Jim Elliot for a spot opposite the conference champion in the district bracket. Not much recognition was given to Denver Jewish Day until they beat Shining Mountain but the Tigers have a talented senior tandem of Gabriel Sanders (14.6) and Andrew Vinnik (12.8). Those two combined for 29 of the team’s 38 points in the clutch win over Shining Mountain including 21 from Sanders who nailed four of seven shots from distance. Denver Jewish also has a conference game at Belleview Christian on the 19th but that game is meaningless to the conference title if the Tigers beat Community Christian. Shining Mountain is locked into second unless Denver Jewish loses their final two games where they would then move into the top slot. They close with non-league games against 3A Jefferson Academy (19th) and Pawnee (21st)
1A – BLACK FOREST
8th ranked Elbert (4-0) has already created a two game lead on second place Hanover and the Bulldogs should finish unbeaten in the conference by seasons end. No other team has posted more than five wins overall so Elbert is expected to run the table. If you are concerned about scheduling, Elbert did face several 2A opponents in non-league play that should help them get ready for the post-season. The Bulldogs clipped Edison 67-23 on Monday and have four games remaining on the schedule including a road trip to Woodlin on Saturday. They close with three contests next week against Colorado D&B, Edison and Kiowa. Balance is the key offensively for Elbert with seven players averaging between five and nine points a game. Roger Carlson (12), Justin Hood (11) and Nolan Brogger (10) paced them in Monday’s easy win over Edison.
1A – HIGH PLAINS
Cheyenne Wells (3-0) claimed the championship with their exciting win at McClave last Friday. The Tigers roared back from 14 points down early in the fourth for the one point road win (46-45). Matthew Sanders hit the game winning layup in the closing seconds and along with Trey Brown combine for one of the best guard duos in either Class 1A or 2A. Since the McClave win, Cheyenne Wells has collected wins over Stratton (51-33) and Granada (53-44). Against Granada on Tuesday, the Tigers scored the final eight points of the game to turn a one point advantage into the nine point win. Cheyenne Wells has one more league contest remaining against Kit Carson a week from Friday. Up this week is a nice road trip to face a Hi Plains team that’s also ranked in the top ten. McClave held off Walsh (56-53) last Saturday in their only game since the Cheyenne Wells loss. The Cardinals will be busy in the final two weeks with four games left before starting post-season play. Only one of the four is a league game and that’s the finale on the 22nd against Eads. Based on what happens in the conference between now and then, that game could decide second place or being meaningless to the top two spots. McClave heads to Granada (Friday) and Flagler (Saturday) this weekend.
1A – NORTH CENTRAL
League leading Fleming (7-0) does not have a conference game on the schedule this week so their lead will stretch into the final week where they close the regular season with league games against Pawnee (19th), Prairie (21st) and Peetz (22nd). The first of the three is the most important as the Wildcats can clinch the crown with a win over Pawnee. They lead the Coyotes by two games in the league standings. Fleming survived for a 59-49 win over 2A Merino last night. They moved into the top spot of the rankings by winning at Hi Plains last Saturday. Trevor Chintala (20) with six three pointers, Tanner Serrato (17) and Dustin Price (13) combined for 50 points against Hi Plains. They are three of five seniors in the starting lineup which gives the Wildcats the most experience of all 1A state championship contenders. Fleming meets Holyoke on Saturday before embarking on their rugged final week. Pawnee took over second place last week with their narrow 48-46 home win over Prairie as Zeb Durst (17), Brye Brunelle (16) and David Martin (12) all reached double figures. The Coyotes are on the road twice this week at Briggsdale on Friday and at Weldon Valley on Saturday. Wins in both will give them a least a share of second place as they lead Prairie by one game in the loss column. The Coyotes and Mustangs have split two games. Pawnee has a brutal final week with games against Fleming, Shining Mountain and Caliche. If you look at the rankings this week, you’ll find all three opponents in the top four of Class 1A.
1A - SOUTHEASTERN
It’s doubtful that any of the three teams will make a serious post-season run. South Baca, Manzanola and Kim have combined for just 11 wins on the season. South Baca though is on a bit of a roll of late however. Their 86-62 win over Kim last Saturday was their third in a row so they may be catching fire at the right time. They host Eads and Primero this Thursday and Friday. Offense is the strength for the Patriots as they’ve scored at least 82 points in each of the three wins.
1A - SOUTHERN PEAKS
La Veta (9-0) has dominated their league slate this year and along the way has built a two game lead on second place Cotopaxi (7-2) and a three game edge on Primero (5-3). The Redskins have just one league game remaining with Cotopaxi on Saturday so they’ve already clinched the league championship. Also up this week is an important game with Sangre De Cristo on Thursday. We list it as important as it gives the Redskins a strong opponent from a larger class (2A) to help prep for the district tournament next week. All three of their losses are against larger schools (Sargent and Trinidad) or an out of state opponent (Springer NM). Kyon Kreutzer is the top scorer (13.5) and rebounder (7.4) for the Redskins and he adds 2 assists and 2 steals as well. After being held to just seven points in last week’s loss to Sargent, he exploded for a season high 24 in the Saturday win over Creede. Cotopaxi has two league games remaining as they face both La Veta this Friday and Centennial next Saturday. They need wins in both to stay ahead of Primero for second since they lost to the Bulldogs earlier in the season.
1A – YWKC
This race will come down to the regular season finale between Hi Plains (5-0) and Otis (3-0) as both are unbeaten in league play. Hi Plains handled Otis 48-29 for a non-league win two weeks ago so the Patriots right now stand as the favorite to win the top trophy. The Patriots though are playing down the stretch without junior starter Alex Nelson who was averaging six points a game before dropping out of the lineup with a shoulder injury. He did not play in last Saturday’s loss to Fleming but might return in time for the post-season. Avery Marzoff (15.3) paces the offense and he has scored in double figures in all but one game. And as they’ve done in the past, Hi Plains has back-loaded their schedule to have their most difficult games late in the season. This week they host Cheyenne Wells on Friday and Burlington on Saturday. Next week involves a road trip to Yuma (21st) two days before the league championship game with Otis on the 23rd. Otis hammered Lone Star 68-22 on Tuesday for their third conference wins. They have league games remaining with Bethune and Woodlin ahead of the Hi-Plains rematch. They also face a stern test against 2A Haxtun on the road this Friday. Andrew Perry (13.3) and Larry Johnson (12.2) provide a nice one-two punch for the Bulldogs. They combined for 22 of the team’s 29 points in the first meeting with Hi Plains.
2A – BLACK FOREST
Peyton’s nine game winning streak has created a two game cushion for the Panthers atop the conference and the can clinch the crown by downing Vanguard on Saturday. The game is also very important to the Coursers who are in the middle of a fierce fight with Calhan and Simla for second place. Those three begin the week with two league losses apiece and tied for second. Calhan (5-2) has already beaten Vanguard (48-45) but lost to Simla (64-56) and they have only two league games remaining against Colorado Springs (Friday) and Kiowa (next Friday). The Bulldogs had won four straight before a 12 point loss to Peyton (74-62) last Saturday. They trailed by just eight at halftime but were outscored 24-6 in the decisive third quarter. Juston Scott (17) and Jerrod Cook (14) paced the Bulldogs who also have a game with top ranked Limon on Saturday. Vanguard lost to Simla and Calhan by identical 48-45 scores in successive weeks so they need to win out and get some help to gain a share of second. That also means they must upset 2nd ranked Peyton Saturday to have a serious chance at second place. If the Coursers fall there, they will need to win out and have Simla and Calhan both lose two conference games to grab third. That’s not likely. Simla was in position to land second before a stunning 56-52 loss to Pikes Peak Christian occurred last Saturday. Seniors Brian Morse (15) and Jacob Bruner (13) combined for 28 points to pace Pikes Peak in landing their best win of the season. Simla hosts Evangelical Christian this Friday before venturing to Kiowa the next day. Even though Peyton is close to wrapping up the championship, they’re still playing for a top four post-season seed. The Panthers have an interesting non-conference game with Sierra Grande on the 21st in a battle of two teams hoping for long playoff runs.
2A – MILE HIGH
There’s an excellent chance that Denver Christian (8-1), Resurrection Christian (7-1) and Heritage Christian (7-1) will end up sharing the league championship. The three have taken turns beating each other but are a combined 19-0 against the rest of the conference. Denver Christian has just one league game remaining and that’s next Thursday against Alexander Dawson but the rest of their schedule is brutal. The defending state champions have important district games on the road against Lutheran (14th) a nd Limon (19th) before facing Alexander Dawson and then wrap up the season against 3A #2 Kent Denver on the 22nd. Alex Terpstra is carrying the Crusaders right now averaging 20.4 points in the 11 games he’s played. The 6-5 senior has scored at least six times and must play well in the important district seeding games against Lutheran and Limon in the next two. Heritage Christian has won five straight since the 63-55 loss to Resurrection Christian. Included in the winning streak is a crucial nine point win against Denver Christian which kept the Eagles in first place. They’ll be favored in their final three games against Liberty Common, Briggsdale and Dayspring Christian. Leading scorer Matthew McGinley (16.8) scored 24 points in Tuesday’s win over Denver Academy which is his highest total since dropping 34 in the three-overtime win against Estes Park on January 8th. Because of their win over Heritage Christian, Resurrection Christian is in good shape to land the top seed for districts. They close their league slate against Front Range Christian (Thursday) and Nederland (next Tuesday). Wyatt Simon matched his season high of 23 points in last Saturday’s win over Dayspring Christian where the Cougars put 94 points a team. He leads the team with nearly 15 points a game. Brock Buxman also matched his season best with 21 points, the second time he’s reached that total in the last three games.
2A – SANTA FE
There’s no suspense in the championship race as Rocky Ford (11-1) has a three lead and has already wrapped up the title. The Meloneers finish off the conference schedule by going to John Mall on Thursday before hosting Rye the next night. Next week includes an interesting date with top ranked Limon which will give us a good indication of how good the Meloneers are. It will be by far their most difficult test of the regular season and should get them ready for the district and regional tournaments. Winners of ten straight, Rocky Ford is paced by the tandem of Joseph Montanez (16.2) and Alex Vazquez (15.6) who have combined for 42 three-pointers on the year. They also combined for 33 points in the Meloneers key league win over Crowley County. Despite a late season slump, Crowley County has battled back to take over second place. Keeping that position is critical because it will put the Chargers opposite Rocky Ford in the district tournament. League outsider Springfield will get the third seed for districts so the third place team from the conference will actually be the fourth seed in the post-season and could face Rocky Ford in the semifinals instead of the championship round. Crowley County (8-4) leads Swink (8-5) by just one game in the loss column and the rivals split two games this season. Crowley County goes to Hoehne on Thursday and then concludes the league schedule at home against Las Animas on Friday. Swink closes out at home against Las Animas on Thursday. If the Lions win that game then Crowley County must win their remaining two games to stay alone in second. Even if they stumble and fall back into a possible tie with Swink, the Chargers should have the tiebreaker since they’re the only league team to beat Rocky Ford this year. The conference is also the first to get post-season play underway as pigtail games in the district tournament are slated for next Friday. That’s why most teams conclude their regular season action this weekend.
2A – SOUTHERN PEAKS
The league champion will be determined on Friday when Sanford (5-0) meets Sierra Grande (6-1). The teams are one-two in the league race and the winner should end up the conference championship. The Indians are favored but most fans don’t expect a repeat of their 66-34 blowout of the Panthers on December 14th as Friday’s battle should be much more competitive. Sanford is unbeaten against 2A foes this year and features a very good basketball team that has both an inside game with Chance Canty and Brett Crowther and several shooters that can knock down the three such as Calder Larsen, Dalton Rodriquez and Dustin Faucette. Canty could be the best freshman in Class 2A and the Indians do not have a senior on the roster so this run could continue for the next few years. Defensively they’re also fundamentally sound and will try to slow the pace a bit against the run and gun Panthers. Sierra Grande is averaging 68 points a game but is coming off a 100-point effort in last Friday’s win over Center. It was their sixth straight victory. Ricardo Howard (23), Tomas Vigil (21), Elijah Ontiveros (16), Braydon Wakasugi (14), Adam Gomez (10) and Michael Ontiveros (10) all reached double figures in the win. The team also combined for 20 assists as they broke free for several easy fast break baskets. They will look to push the pace on Friday. Sangre De Cristo and Sargent (5-2) are tied for third with Sargent claiming a 56-34 head-to-head win. The T-Birds though do own a win over Sierra Grande so if the Panthers lose to create a three way tie for second, a different tiebreaker other than head-to-head will be needed to seed the teams for districts. Sangre also has a league date at Sanford on the 22nd remaining so that outcome will also factor into the picture. Sargent has won four straight and despite three road games, the closing schedule favors them a bit. They’ll be favored at Cripple Creek this Friday before heading to Center and Custer County next week. The finale with the Bobcats should be the most difficult.
2A/1A - ARK VALLEY
We’re a little unsure of the standings but we believe Granada, Wiley and Holly have one league loss going into the final two weeks. Granada and Holly are set to play a key game next Tuesday that will determine the league championship. The Bobcats snapped a four game winning streak with a loss to Cheyenne Wells Tuesday night. They also challenge 3rd ranked McClave on Friday in a game that will help sort out future post-season bracketing. Holly responded from a frustrating one point loss to Wiley by moving past Eads (65-52) the next night. They close with Kim on Friday and then Granada and Elkhart KS in the final week. Junior Drew Thompson leads the Wildcats in scoring with 11 points a game and he dropped in a team high 20 points in the attention grabbing win at Cheyenne Wells. Wiley meets Springfield on Friday before visiting Kim on Saturday. They also tangle with McClave next week so their closing stretch is a bit difficult. They’re on a roll heading into the post-season with six straight wins including a 58-41 decision over Genoa Hugo last Saturday. Kody Wallace went for 17 points while freshman Caden Eastion dropped in five three-pointers on the way to 16 points. It was his season high and the fourth time he’s reached double figures for the season.
2A/1A – LOWER PLATTE
Here is where we find maybe the best matchup of the week as Caliche entertains Akron on Thursday. The outcome will help sort out the crowd atop the conference standings. Caliche, Yuma and Haxtun (all one loss) all have a piece of the lead with Akron and Holyoke (both 2 losses) still very much in contention. Akron has lost to Yuma but beaten both Haxtun and Holyoke so a win should allow them to finish no worse than second place. Caliche dropped a tough game at Yuma on February 1st and also hosts Haxtun next Friday to their league championship hopes could be on the line as well this week. The game should be a fun one to watch as both teams prefer a fast pace. Caliche strives for 80-90 possessions in any game while Akron, with their high scoring backcourt of Brady Baer (31.6) and Jared Clarkson (14.6), also likes to take quick shots. Depth and fatigue could be the deciding factor. Akron goes with an iron-five and possible six players in most games while Caliche will play nine to ten players each game. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, the Buffs could be the fresher team in the closing minutes. Yuma has league games with Wray Thursday and Holyoke on the 19th. Wins in both will keep them in first and then their league championship hopes will rest with head-to-head results with the team they’re tied with. They’ve beaten Caliche and Akron but fell short on the road at Haxtun (63-61) last week. Haxtun is finally healthy and on a roll with four straight wins. Their win over Yuma (63-61) kept them very much alive for a league championship and they’ll look to stay in first at home against Holyoke on Friday. It’s a good rivalry and a rematch of their 75-58 win over the Dragons in the season opener. Holyoke needs a win to stay within one game of the leaders and the contest will also affect post-season brackets since the two are in the same district.
2A/1A – SAN JUAN
Second place became a bit clearer on Tuesday as Dolores topped Norwood 60-50. That dropped the Mavericks into fourth place and left the Bears tied with Telluride in the runner-up spot. Both trail unbeaten Ignacio (5-0) in the league chase. Dolores also has a win over Telluride in league play and since the Miners have a remaining date with the first place Bobcats, Dolores is in great shape to end up second. Their win on Tuesday was their ninth straight. The Bears outscored the Mavericks 17-9 in the third quarter to turn around a six point halftime deficit. Dolores closes out the schedule with Dove Creek a week from Thursday. Ignacio collected a high quality win over #3 Monticello UT on Tuesday running their record to 14-3. The Bobcats can clinch a tie for the league title by beating Telluride on Saturday or by beating Norwood in their finale next week. Ignacio is getting 13 points a game from junior guard Clayton Jefferson with junior Justin Carver (10.4) providing punch from the inside.
2A/1A – UNION PACIFIC
Top ranked Limon barely survived for a 42-40 home win over improving Burlington on Saturday and while that win pushed the Badgers into sole possession of first place it did not clinch the league championship. They must get by Byers on Friday to officially wrap up the crown. Byers picked up a 66-61 win over Deer Trail on Tuesday night that kept them within one game of the league leading Badgers. The win was their sixth in seven games. If they upset Limon on Friday the result will create a three way tie for the conference lead between the two and Burlington. Byers also heads to Stratton on Saturday for their final conference game and they need wins in both to share the top spot. The Bulldogs also visits Lutheran next Friday in a non-league game that counts for district seeding. Limon should be boosted by the return of Chandler Dohe. The 18 point a game a scorer missed the Burlington game while taking part in another state competition and the Badgers struggled on offense without him Limon also heads to Calhan on Saturday before closing up shop next week at home against Denver Christian (19th) and Rocky Ford (22nd).
2A/1A – WESTERN SLOPE
Like the Black Forest, the more exciting battle down the stretch is the race for second where Rangely, Meeker and Vail Christian are all 6-2 in league play. Complicating things even more is a three team tie between Hotchkiss, West Grand and Paonia at 5-3 and one game back. All six teams are looking up at first place Hayden who has won their first nine conference games. The Tigers meet Plateau Valley on Friday and DeBeque on Saturday and a win in either gives them the outright championship. Of the three second place teams 1A Vail Christian stands in the best position to land the runner-up spot. They toppled both Meeker (46-42) and Rangely (62-48) last weekend so if they win out they’ll get the spot based on tiebreakers regardless of what else happens. That will also give the Saints the number one seed from the conference for the 1A district tournament next week putting them opposite Norwood in the bracket. Vail Christian also beat the Mavericks 62-37 in December. Kevin Boselli led the way against Rangely with 18 points with support coming from Gunnar Wilson (13) and Zach Linder (12). The Saints right now are probably the best 1A team west of I-70 and could make an appearance in Broomfield at the 1A state tournament. They’ll be favored in the final four games against North Park, West Grand (this week), Vail Mountain and Plateau Valley (next week). Rangely and Meeker both play Paonia and Hotchkiss this weekend so those four results will help create some breathing room in the upper division. West Grand should get by Vail Mountain on Friday before battling Vail Christian the next night. Their final game is at North Park on the 22nd.