It’s postseason time in Class 1A and a number of brackets have already been pared down. By the end of the week, only 24 teams will remain in the hunt for championship gold.
DISTRICT 1 (TWO TEAMS ADVANCE)
Action does not get underway until Thursday, when two pigtail games will help decide the last two semifinalists in District 1. Top-seeded De Beque (19-0) awaits the winner of a game between #4 Norwood (3-16) and #5 North Park (1-18) in one semifinal. The Mavericks enter the field having dropped their last three games and six of their last seven. Cael Spangler is the lone player on the team averaging double figures in scoring at around 11 points a game. The skid for North Park has been more pronounced, as the Wildcats have lost their last 17 contests. Bryce Carlstrom has been a bright spot, averaging more than 15 points a night.
De Beque beat both possible opponents during the regular season. The Dragons got past Norwood 58-40 behind 23 points from Brennan Rigsby and 17 more from Wes Ryan. De Beque used a 31-12 third quarter to put a 72-36 victory over the Wildcats to bed. Rigsby put 20 on the board that night, while Ryan and Dillon Baumgardner each added a dozen. Carlstrom had 17 in the loss.
Ouray (13-5) sits on the other side of the bracket as the #2 seed. The Trojans will get either #3 Dove Creek (6-13) or #6 Nucla (3-16) in the semifinals. Dove Creek has won its last two games, including a 76-56 decision over the Mustangs just last Saturday. It was the even quarters that made the difference in that contest, as the Bulldogs outscored Nucla 49-27 in those two frames. Ryan Martinez poured in 27 points for Dove Creek in that win, and he also recorded 22 points in an earlier 66-55 victory over the Mustangs. After only scoring two points in the first meeting, Gauge Thompson tallied a career-high 20 last week.
The Trojans had their way with Nucla during the season, picking up a pair of wins (60-39, 65-46), but they split with Dove Creek. Ouray claimed a 55-41 victory on Feb. 1st, but it was the Bulldogs who garnered a 51-40 win last Friday. Scout Manley and Jackson Leo both score around 11 points a game to lead the Trojans.
All games in the tournament are played at Olathe High School.
DISTRICT 2 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
The quarterfinals are already in the book in District 2, setting up Thursday’s semifinals. Cheraw (16-3) is the top seed and the Wolverines will meet #4 Granada (8-12) in one of those semifinals. The Bobcats, who did not win a game last year, eliminated #5 Cheyenne Wells (6-14) in the quarterfinals, 34-26. Granada had beaten the Tigers 43-41 earlier this month. The win on Tuesday night sets up a quick rematch with Cheraw, who just took a 54-43 decision over the Bobcats last Friday. Gabe Montoya had 15 points for the Wolverines, and Colt Honey added 12.
The second seed in the event, McClave (11-8) squares off with a familiar foe in the other semifinal, as the Cardinals will face #3 Kit Carson (12-8). They played last Friday, with the Cards picking up the victory. Kit Carson had to beat #6 Eads 62-47 on Tuesday to earn the trip to the semis.
Every game in the tournament is played at the Lamar Community Building.
DISTRICT 3 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
Lamar gets plenty of love this time of year, as District 3 also plays its tournament there. Tuesday night saw the lone quarterfinal game of the bracket played at Lamar Community College between #4 South Baca (9-10) and #5 Wiley (8-12). A huge first half led the Panthers to a 66-45 upset of the Patriots. Wiley led 42-22 at the intermission. Garrett Tyree posted 20 points and seven assists to lead Wiley, and the Panthers received another 19 points Lawrence Lucero.
Wiley now moves on to face #1 Walsh (15-4), who beat the Panthers 64-37 earlier this month. The Eagles held Lucero to 11 points in that contest, and Tyree was limited to just four. Walsh has won nine straight games this year, and only one of its losses came to an in-state opponent.
Friday’s other semifinal sees #2 Kim/Branson (10-9) tangling with #3 Springfield (12-7). The Mustangs earned the edge over Springfield by virtue of a 45-38 victory in their only meeting of the regular season. Emilio Gallegos (16) and Elijah Aragon (11) combined for 27 points in the victory, while Alex Suarez and Patrick Jones each had 10 for the Longhorns. Beau Dukes, who averages better than 12 points a game for Springfield, was held to a season-low three.
DISTRICT 4 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
Two higher seeded teams were upset in the quarterfinals of the District 4 tournament on Tuesday. Third-seeded Briggsdale (11-9) fell to #6 Caliche (7-12) 58-47 in the late game of the night, as the Buffs put together a 20-0 run over the second and third quarters to seize control. Caliche, who also beat the Falcons in the regular season, led by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter before a late rally saw Briggsdale cut it to 10.
Caliche will meet #2 Prairie (14-6) in the semifinals after the Mustangs beat #7 Weldon Valley (5-15) 69-45 in the quarters. After missing their first three-point attempt of the night, the Mustangs made their next nine shot from behind the arc and finished the first half 9-12 from long range. Prairie beat Caliche 52-38 in early January, with Devin Littlefield scoring 25 for the Mustangs. He averages 17 points a contest.
The other upset of the night saw #5 Merino (10-10) bumping #4 Longmont Christian (11-9), 44-39. In a game of runs, the Rams had the last one that gave them the separation in the final stages. That win gives Merino a second shot at #1 Peetz (15-4), who beat the Rams 72-70 in overtime earlier this year. Peetz senior Bryson Long hit a Laettner-esque game-winner at the horn, giving him a career-high 33 points in the contest. The Bulldogs did not need any such heroics in their quarterfinal victory over #8 Fleming (4-16). After the Wildcats hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, Peetz went on a 20-1 run. They would go on to win 67-26.
All of the games in the tournament are played at Northeastern Junior College.
DISTRICT 5 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
District 5 action gets started on Wednesday with the quarterfinal round. The top two teams each play host to their respective half of the bracket, meaning #1 Arickaree/Woodlin (14-4) and #2 Haxtun (12-7) not only get to play on their home courts, but they also get to see their potential semifinal opponents, should they win their own games.
Arickaree/Woodlin won eight of its last nine games to not only win the YWKC league title, but also secure the top seed for the tournament. The Indian-Mustangs have four players averaging between 10 and 14 points a game. They host #8 Lone Star (5-10), over whom they already own a 67-30 victory. All four of those double digit scorers recorded at least 10 points in that victory.
The other game to be played at Arickaree has #4 Stratton/Liberty (9-10) squaring off with #5 Flagler/Hi-Plains (6-13). When the brackets first came out, Idalia was lined up as the opponent for the Knighted Eagles, but when Monday rolled around, the RPI actually showed Flagler/Hi-Plains ahead of the Wolves. The last time these two co-op programs met, Stratton/Liberty ran its way to an 84-71 victory. Each side scored 29 points in a wild fourth quarter. Jaret Lichty and Ignacio Baixas each scored 16 points as the Knighted Eagles had five players in double figures. Nick Schroeder hit six of 10 three-point attempts for Flagler/Hi-Plains and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Haxtun welcomes in #7 Bethune (6-12) who finished the regular season with eight consecutive losses. The host Bulldogs feature a solid inside-out combination of Braden Anderson and Joey Gerk, both seniors. Bethune counters with an athletic big man of its own, as Teddy Schroll averages 11 points and seven boards a game.
Otis (10-9) is the third seed and the Bulldogs will hook up with #6 Idalia (7-12) less than two weeks after taking a 53-50 victory over the Wolves. The teams exchanged the lead several times in the fourth quarter of that contest before Otis finally secured the victory. Cullen Glosson had 20 points to lead a trio of Bulldogs in double figures. Ty Hunt added 16 and James Collins chipped in 10. Idalia got 17 points from Spanish exchange student Bru Carreras and 12 more from Caleb Wingfield.
The final two rounds of the tournament will shift to Wray High School over the weekend.
DISTRICT 6 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
The semifinals are nearly set in District 6, with three of the four teams in place. Only Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between #4 Primero (9-7) and #5 Cotopaxi (11-8) remains. Primero claimed a narrow 60-56 victory over the Pirates in late January, with freshman Michael Damelio matching his career-high of 19 points. Antonio Cordova and Michael Duran added 16 and 13 points, respectively. Chance Gulliford turned in 22 points and 15 rebounds for Cotopaxi.
The winner moves on to face #1 Sangre de Cristo (18-1) in the semifinals. The Thunderbirds dominated both potential opponents during the regular season, claiming a total of three wins. Sangre beat the Pirates 67-40 on the road and then completed the sweep with a 60-45 victory at home, with Jake Slane scoring 18 and 22 points in the two wins. Gulliford registered 23 and 25 points in the two losses for Cotopaxi. The T-birds also beat Primero 59-18, as they did not allow any of the Bulldogs to score more than six points.
In the semifinal that is already set, #2 Creede (11-8) will face #3 Sierra Grande (10-9), looking to sweep the Panthers. The Miners needed a huge second half to claim a 60-55 victory during the regular season, erasing a 32-18 halftime deficit by posting 21 points in both frames after the break. While each team had multiple players in double figures in the score book, the most impressive numbers came on the glass. Colter Simon pulled down 18 rebounds for Creede, but that wasn’t even good enough for game-high honors, as Ambrosio Mondragon collected 20 boards for the Panthers.
Adams State University is the site for the semis and placing games.
DISTRICT 7 (TWO TEAMS ADVANCE)
The semifinals are completely set in District seven, with three of the top four seeds still in the mix. The top half of the draw features #1 Evangelical Christian (16-3) and #4 Pikes Peak Christian (11-7) who just played on Valentine’s Day. ECA won that contest 73-63. They have reeled off 11 consecutive victories heading into this elimination game. Pikes Peak Christian finished the regular season with five losses in its last eight games.
Kiowa (8-12) upset #3 Elbert (11-9) 38-36, just a few days after losing to the Bulldogs 44-39 in the regular season finale. The sixth-seeded Indians will need another upset to keep their season alive as they face #2 Genoa-Hugo/Karval (13-6) in an elimination game. The Indians already know that they can beat the Pirates because they own a 59-53 victory earlier this season. Kiowa held a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of that game, before Genoa-Hugo/Karval put 25 points on the board in the final eight minutes. Dustin Wenz and Bryar Morgan each recorded a double-double for Kiowa. Wenz had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Morgan tallied 17 points and 17 boards. Ben Miller had one of his own for the Pirates, registering 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The semifinals and championship games will be held at the Colorado Springs Auditorium.
DISTRICT 8 (THREE TEAMS ADVANCE)
As the semifinals roll around, District 8 could possibly have the top three seeds for next weekend’s regional in Sterling. However, the big three have to be on upset alert as #5 Denver Waldorf (9-8) has already shown how dangerous it can be, both during the regular season and earlier in this tournament.
The Spartans pushed #2 Cornerstone Christian (19-1) before falling 45-39, and only lost to #1 Front Range Baptist (15-4) by two points during the regular season. They also upset #3 Mile High Academy (14-5) 51-46 in between those two close calls. In the quarterfinals, Denver Waldorf knocked out #4 Denver Jewish Day (8-8) 59-48. Front Range Baptist will be their opponent in the semis, and the Falcons trailed the Spartans 34-32 entering the fourth quarter of their previous meeting.
Cornerstone Christian took a 49-39 victory over Mile High Academy during the regular season as Eddie Cruz (19) and Brandt Vos (18) combined for 37 points. Blake Essex recorded a double-double of 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Mustangs in the loss.
The semifinals will be held Thursday at home sites and the teams will head to Legacy High School on Saturday for the placing games.