The weekly rankings and RPI could both have a very different look next week, as this weekend’s slate is filled with impactful games. Included on the calendar are three clashes between ranked teams on Saturday, while Friday has a number of contests that will create either clarity or confusion in league races.
Friday night has big match-ups in the North Central, High Plains, Black Forest and Southern Peaks leagues. The High Plains has two important contests on Friday as #9 Eads (8-2, 16th RPI) hosts Cheyenne Wells (4-4, 20th RPI) and #1 Kit Carson (8-0, 2nd RPI) visits McClave (6-3, 8th RPI).
For Kit Carson, the trip to McClave is just the beginning of a busy weekend. The Wildcats will also host #7 Holly (8-2, 6th RPI) on Saturday. Kit Carson saw the flu bug run rampant through the school last week, forcing the postponement of a game with Granada. The Wildcats did play their regularly scheduled game with Flagler/Hi-Plains on Saturday and they cruised to a 65-28 victory. Eight of 11 players who saw the floor contributed points in the win.
McClave, who has lost eight straight to Kit Carson, picked up its biggest win of the season last Friday by knocking off #4 Kim/Branson (9-1, 1st RPI) 36-29. The Cardinals are now 3-2 against teams in the top 16 of the RPI, as they split a pair of games against Holly, beat Eads and lost to Springfield (5-3, 3rd RPI). They will get another shot at Springfield on Saturday, after dropping the first meeting by six points.
Holly earned a couple of quality wins last week, beating South Baca (5-4, 15th RPI) 47-37 and Cheraw (5-5, 22nd RPI) 41-36. Those two victories, along with the split against McClave and a loss to Kit Carson have the Wildcats are 3-2 against top 25 opponents. Holly has lost nine straight against Kit Carson and 12 of the last 14 in the series.
Eads puts a six-game winning streak on the line Friday against Cheyenne Wells. The last two wins came last week against YWKC squads Idalia (5-5, 35th RPI) and Otis (4-6, 36th RPI). The two losses suffered by the Eagles have been by three points to Springfield and five points to McClave. While no one averages double figures in scoring, three players shoulder the bulk of the load. Mariah Smith (9.5 ppg), Kaylee Wilson (8.8 ppg) and Miranda Mitchek (7.6 ppg) combine for about 26 points a game. The Eagles average 37 a night as a team.
Cheyenne Wells saw its three-game winning streak come to an end last Friday, as the Tigers were upended by Cheraw, 40-37. Madison Weed (12 points) and Brittaney Joiner (11 points) both reached double figures for the Tigers, but the team only shot 25% from the floor and 38% from the free throw line in the loss. Cheyenne Wells has not had much luck against Eads lately, dropping seven straight to the Eagles and 11 of the last 14 in the series.
Third-ranked Briggsdale (9-1, 5th RPI) still holds hope of winning at least a share of the North Central crown, as the Falcons trail #2 Fleming (8-1, 11th RPI) by one game in the victory column. The Wildcats won the first head-to-head meeting with Briggsdale, and the two will meet a second time on Jan. 27. To keep pace, the Falcons need a win over third place Prairie (7-4, 32nd RPI) on Friday.
Two of the wins in the current five-game winning streak by Briggsdale were against Weldon Valley (6-4, 12th RPI), representing their best wins of the season. Those were by a combined score of 125-58. The Falcons also own wins over quality opponents Arickaree/Woodlin (7-3, 18th RPI) and Denver Jewish Day (4-2, 24th RPI). Seven players score at least four points a game for the Falcons, led by Jodel Erickson at 12.5 and Skyla Miller at 11.4.
After a slow start to the season, losing four of the first six games, Prairie has responded by winning five straight. The Mustangs have seen a number of close calls under first year head coach Jill Laybourn. Three of their losses were by six points or fewer, including a 47-45 defeat by Weldon Valley on a 30-foot buzzer beater. Two of their wins have also been nail-biters, with a 48-47 win over 2A Merino that included the Rams having a potential game-winning shot on the rim at the buzzer.
Briggsdale has had the upper hand in the series for quite some time. The Falcons have won the last eight in a row, and 29 of the last 36 overall. The two will meet one more time this regular season.
The lead in the Black Forest is at stake on Friday when Elbert (5-5, 27th RPI) hosts Edison (5-2, 17th RPI). Both teams are 2-0 in the league and the winner will likely wind up being the top seed for the District 7 tournament.
Edison dropped two of its first three games, with the losses coming to Cotopaxi (5-2, 7th RPI) and 2A Colorado Springs School (8-1, 12th RPI). Since, the Eagles have won four straight, three by at least 30. Two of their wins this season have come against 2A foes who are 36th and 50th in that classification’s RPI.
It has been a season with more peaks and valleys for Elbert. The Bulldogs have lost two straight games twice this campaign, and they enter Friday’s game on their first two-game winning streak of the season. Four of the losses have been to 2A opponents, three of who are in the top 18 of the RPI. The Bulldogs also have a loss to #6 La Veta (7-1, 13th RPI). Graycee Lay leads Elbert with 13.3 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs had won at least 22 straight over the Eagles prior to a 41-30 loss in the district tournament last year.
The Southern Peaks will see most of its top teams in action this weekend, including Antonito, La Veta, Sangre de Cristo and Sierra Grande. Friday night, #8 Antonito (7-2, 9th RPI) kicks off the weekend at Sierra Grande (4-4, 23rd RPI). The Trojans are looking for a return trip to state and they have won their last three games. The two losses this season have come against #5 Sangre de Cristo (10-0, 4th RPI) by one point and #4 Kim/Branson (9-1, 1st RPI) by 10.
A talented trio of Joslyn Garcia (14.0 ppg), Erykah Tallman (13.4 ppg, 14.5 rpg), and Alyssa Romero (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) will lead the Trojans not only into the game with Sierra Grande, but also Saturday’s clash with La Veta at home.
Sierra Grande started the season 3-1, with the lone loss coming to Antonito in the first round of the T-Bird Shootout, 60-39. The Panthers wrapped up the month of December with three straight losses, the last of which was to Kim/Branson, 44-28. Heading into the weekend, the Panthers only have one game under their belts, a 55-29 win at Centennial last week. To break a four-game skid against Antonito, Sierra Grande will need big contributions from Abby Corona (16.3 ppg) and Nina Vigil (12.2 ppg).
La Veta enters Saturday’s game at Antonito riding a five-game winning streak. Included in that streak was the 700th career coaching victory for head coach Greg King. King has left his mark across the state, including stops at Stratton, Del Norte and Norwood. That milestone was reached last Thursday in a 58-30 victory over Primero. Standout junior Kaylee Corsentino continues to impress this season, averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3.4 steals a night. The Redskins have lost the last three meetings with Antonito, including the last two by a total of three points.
Saturday’s schedule also includes a huge non-conference clash between Kim/Branson and Sangre de Cristo. The teams are both top five in the rankings and top four in the RPI. They enter the weekend with a combined record of 19-1. Kim/Branson spends Friday on the road at Cheraw, while the Thunderbirds will visit 2A Center on Thursday and host Moffat on Friday.
The Mustangs will be looking to get back on track after losing to McClave in their last outing, a game in which they were held 15 points below their previous season-low output. They have won six of the last seven meetings with Cheraw, but last year’s contest was the only one within the last four years.
Only two teams have scored more than 25 points in a game this season against Sangre de Cristo. One was Antonito, who posted 45 and the other was 2A Rocky Ford, who tallied 32. While a lot of attention is paid to Jessica Slane and Kylee Christensen because of their offense (they combine for more than 33 points a game), but they also spark a very stingy defense. As a team, Sangre collects more than 16 steals a game, with four players averaging at least three a night. Slane leads the way with 5.1, and Christensen is next at 3.7, while Lexi Metz and Avery Palmgren chipped in 3.4 and 3.0, respectively.
The Thunderbirds saw what was at least a 15-game winning streak against Center snapped last year, with a 53-46 defeat. The Vikings enter the game with a 0-7 record. As for the series with Moffat, Sangre has won the last four games, without allowing double figures in any of the contests.
The series between Kim/Branson and Sangre de Cristo resumes following a six year hiatus. The teams met six times between 2007 and 2012, with the T-Birds winning the first two meetings and Kim/Branson taking the last four.