Over the past month, the top three teams in the state have been playing musical chairs, with Holly, Peetz and Creede all having held the top spot and lost it without dropping a game in that week. Holly, who opened the season #1, regained that position this week as Peetz fell to #2, and Creede remained #3.
Holly (15-0, 1st RPI) and Peetz (14-0, 5th RPI) each remained perfect with wins on Tuesday. The Wildcats took care of Syracuse KS (51-38) while the Bulldogs downed Caliche (8-6, 24th RPI). Holly’s winning streak now stands at 41 games, dating back to the third place game in 2016. In the last four seasons, the Wildcats have won 85 of 91 games under Dusty Heck. Two of their remaining games are against top 25 RPI squads, including a date with #5 Cheyenne Wells (11-1, 7th RPI) next Friday.
Peetz only has one top 25 opponent remaining on its slate, as the Bulldogs visit Fleming (8-6, 21st RPI) in two weeks. They do have two games with out of state teams left, one of which will help more than two of their in-state games will.
Creede (13-1, 2nd RPI) suffered its first loss of the season last Friday to #4 Sangre de Cristo (13-1, 3rd RPI), 67-66. The Miners had held a 12-point lead after the first quarter, but the Thunderbirds were able to hang tough and claim the win by outscoring Creede 21-17 in the fourth. Manuel Lopez led a trio of T-Birds in double figures with 19 points, while Isaac Borchers scored a game-high 28 for the Miners. No other Creede player scored more than eight.
The Miners bounced back to pound La Veta (3-11, 50th RPI) the following night and they will finish the regular season with four of five against top 30 teams. They travel to Moffat (2-6, 26th RPI) on Friday before hosting #10 Sierra Grande (10-3, 15th RPI) on Saturday. The Panthers are tied with Sangre de Cristo atop the Southern Peaks, and those two won’t play until Feb. 16th.
Before the Panthers can tangle with Creede, they also have an important league clash with Cotopaxi (9-3, 14th RPI) on Friday. Sierra Grande rides a seven-game winning streak into that contest, with its last on court victory coming last Friday over previously eighth-ranked Primero (8-3, 16th RPI) 73-59. Arthur Rodriguez topped Vince Damelio in the battle of high scoring seniors, 35-21. It marked the sixth time in the last eight games that Rodriguez had scored at least 30, which is his average. Damelio was right on his average of 21.4 per game.
Cotopaxi has won four straight games since losing back-to-back contests at Sangre and Creede. The Pirates are fourth in the very loaded Southern Peaks, just ahead of Primero. Those two will close out the regular season against each other. The Pirates will lean on the trio of Chance Gulliford, Owen Voll, and Kurt Voll, who combine for 40 points a game, with each averaging better than 11. Gulliford, a 6’6” sophomore, leads the team with 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and three blocks a night.
Things inside the 5280 continue to be crazy. Denver Jewish Day (7-6, 31st RPI) entered the week on top of the league standings, but after losses to Cornerstone Christian (8-4, 13th RPI) and Front Range Baptist (9-3, 8th RPI), the Tigers are tied for fifth. The Bulldogs earned a 53-31 win over the Tigers on Monday and Front Range Baptist edged them 45-39 on Tuesday.
Cornerstone Christian and Front Range Baptist will square off on Friday with sole possession of first place in the league at stake. The Bulldogs have dropped the last three meetings against Front Range, but still own an 8-5 advantage in the series. Their duo of Brandt Vos (17.9 ppg) and Christian Lambertson (13.2 ppg) will clash with the Falcons’ trio of Adam Poole (14.8 ppg), Deric Woods (12.6 ppg), and Austin Bates (10.6 ppg).
The race in the High Plains league could start to see some separation this week. Cheyenne Wells is tied for first with #9 Kit Carson (11-2, 11th RPI), with McClave (5-8, 30th RPI) and Cheraw (6-7, 12th RPI) right behind them. The Tigers will host McClave on Thursday, looking for their ninth straight win overall and eighth consecutive over the Cardinals.
Cheyenne Wells picked up a 56-45 victory over Wallace County KS on Tuesday, which came on the heels of wins against Genoa-Hugo (6-7, 22nd RPI) and Flagler/Hi-Plains (3-11, 33rd RPI) last week. The Tigers will also visit Stratton/Liberty (3-9, 36th RPI) on Saturday. The Knighted Eagles have pushed a number of top teams this season, including Kit Carson last week, falling 59-49 after only trailing by five heading into the fourth.
With last Saturday’s win over Cheraw, McClave is still just 3-3 since the calendar turned to 2018. Two of those losses were by single digits, including a 50-44 defeat by Kit Carson two weeks ago. Ian Beckett is the lone Card averaging double figures, leading the team with almost 16 points a night. The senior also tops the squad with close to nine rebounds, four steals, two blocks, and just over two assists.
Friday night will see a heated contest in the YWKC when Arickaree/Woodlin (9-3, 34th RPI) hosts Otis (7-6, 29th RPI) with the league title likely on the line. The Indian-Mustangs have won their last four games by a total of 17 points, with none being by more than five. Despite having one of the better records in the classification, their RPI is hampered by their opponent’s winning percentage of 31.9% as of Wednesday morning. That is fifth-worst in the class.
Five of the six losses on the Otis record have come against 2A foes, with the remaining defeat coming against Peetz in the opening weekend. The Bulldogs have dropped their last two overall, to Sedgwick County and Haxtun, both ranked 2A teams.
The Bulldogs are just 2-6 against the Arickaree/Woodlin co-op, but they did beat the Indian-Mustangs 63-34 in the district tournament last year. Cullen Glosson (19.7 ppg) and Ty Hunt (18.1 ppg) while Arickaree/Woodlin gets 16 a game from Kevin Ramirez and 12 a night from Andy Miller. Michael McCaffrey and Arturo Ramos both average better than nine points for the Indian-Mustangs.
Second place is up for grabs in the Arkansas Valley on Saturday, when #7 South Baca (11-3, 9th RPI) visits Kim/Branson (5-8, 27th RPI). Both teams have a single league loss, each to Holly, who has already locked up no less than a share of the league title. The Patriots enter the week on a seven-game roll and they host an out of state opponent on Thursday. They have won five straight against Rolla KS, who comes in at 3-8.
The Mustangs are heading the other direction as of late, dropping three consecutive outings. The last two were against two of the top three RPI teams, Sangre de Cristo and Holly. Kim/Branson will have a chance to end that skid on Friday, as it hosts Granada (0-14, 53rd RPI). The Mustangs had dropped eight straight to the Bobcats before winning last year’s meeting. They have lost 13 straight to South Baca.
Saturday will also see Kit Carson receive a tough non-league test from Fleming. While the game between the girl’s teams will draw more focus, this one will see two squads with rich histories going at it. Both of Kit Carson’s losses are against Holly, the last by just nine points. It was a two-point game heading to the fourth. They have been pushed in two of three games since that loss and they host Eads (5-8, 49th RPI) on Friday.
Only two of Fleming’s losses this season have come against 1A opponents, a four-point decision against Caliche to open the season and a 54-31 loss to Peetz in early January. All of the remaining losses have come against 2A LPAA teams, including last year’s state champion (Holyoke) and runner-up (Sedgwick County).
There isn’t much recent history between these two sets of Wildcats, with just two meetings in the MaxPreps era. Both of those took place last year. Kit Carson went on the road and beat Fleming 53-31 in the regular season. They then completed the sweep by downing Fleming 43-29 in the state third place game. Fleming will host Weldon Valley (0-14, 56th RPI) in a North Central league game on Friday. They beat the Warriors 65-54 in December.