It’s a relatively light schedule for the top teams around the state, as few are involved in impactful match-ups. Most of the key contests take place on Friday, but one team has already taken care of a big clash.
Second-ranked Cornerstone Christian (12-0, 2nd RPI) took control of the 5280 on Tuesday by beating Belleview Christian (8-4, 9th RPI) 61-55 in overtime. Brandt Vos had a game-high 25 points for the Bulldogs, including five three-pointers. Samuel Norman (16 points) and Logan Owen (15 points) combined for 31 points in the loss.
The Bulldogs face another top opponent on Thursday, when they visit #9 Mile High Academy (7-0, 1st RPI). The Mustangs caught people’s attention after claiming a 61-48 victory over #7 Front Range Baptist (7-3, 6th RPI) on the 15th of the month. Sophomore Brad Essex is one of three players in double figures, averaging 14 points and almost 15 rebounds a game. Mark Bacon (12.7 ppg) and Payton Rippe (12.6 ppg) are the other two. Vos leads Cornerstone with 18.3 points a game, while Eddie Cruz adds just over 15 a night.
Three games on Friday see teams fighting to stay atop their respective leagues. In the Black Forest, Elbert (3-5, 39th RPI) and Pikes Peak Christian (5-1, 13th RPI) are tied with Evangelical Christian (8-3, 14th RPI) for the top spot. The Bulldogs visit PPC with the winner staying in the hunt for the league crown. Elbert snapped a three-game skid by beating Deer Trail (4-5, 40th RPI) last week 43-39.
The Eagles, winners of two straight, have three big scorers, led by Sam Smith at 14 points and close to 15 boards a night. Bryson Farley (12.5 ppg) and Ethan Moore (10.8 ppg) are the other two. Pikes Peak Christian has lost seven straight to the Bulldogs.Back on December 14th, #5 Peetz (8-3, 10th RPI) went into Prairie (8-5, 25th RPI) and snuck out with a 62-59 victory, despite four Mustangs scoring in double figures. That win has the Bulldogs alone atop the North Central league standings. Peetz will have the home court advantage for the second meeting, and the Bulldogs enter having won four of their last five games. Prairie has also won four of its last five, including two straight. Devin Littlefield leads a very deep team, pumping in 19 points a game. The Mustangs can create a tie for the league lead with a win, but Peetz puts a stranglehold on the NCL if it holds serve at home.
While Friday’s meeting between Arickaree/Woodlin (8-3, 15th RPI) and Idalia (6-7, 37th RPI) is officially a non-league clash, the winner will gain a mental edge for their league tilt late in the regular season. The Indian-Mustangs, winners of two straight and six of eight overall, have four players scoring between nine and 13 points a game, led by Kevin Ramirez at 13.3 points a night. Andy Miller adds 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, while Michael McCaffrey contributes 10.6 points, six rebounds, 4.2 steals and close to four assists a contest. Arturo Ramos is the fourth of those scorers, giving 9.5 points to go with almost seven rebounds, 3.7 steals, and 3.3 assists.
Idalia has dropped two straight and four of six in January. Much of the offensive production this season has come from Bru Carreras, who is scoring more than 19 points a game. The Wolves are also getting seven points apiece from Caleb Wingfield and Dax Towns, and another six from Yahir Enriquez. Towns also grabs close to eight rebounds a contest. The Wolves have lost four straight to Arickaree/Woodlin and nine of the last 10. However, last season’s meetings were decided by a total of 10 points.
The top game on Saturday looks to be a non-league affair between Kit Carson (7-4, 12th RPI) and #8 Springfield (8-3, 7th RPI). The two hooked up in the semifinals of the Lamar Holiday Tournament in December and Springfield came away with a 47-40 victory. Jayden McCombs-Farmer did not play for Kit Carson in that meeting, as he was recovering from an injury suffered during the football season. Since returning after the break, he has averaged a little over eight points a game as he works his way back into basketball shape.
Seniors Alex Suarez (18 points) and Beau Dukes (13 points) combined for 31 points in that earlier win for the Longhorns. Dukes also grabbed 14 boards. On the season, Suarez averages an even dozen points a game, while Dukes chips in just under 12 points and nine rebounds. The Longhorns also get close to nine points a night from Darian Schaller.