This weekend brings with it an attractive schedule of games from across the state. Some involve teams jockeying for position inside their respective leagues, while others have highly ranked squads stepping out of conference play to square off against other top teams in games that will impact the RPI standings.
Friday night has three important clashes that will directly impact league standings. Even though Elbert (6-3, 26th RPI) and Pikes Peak Christian (4-2, 34th RPI) are both unranked, they share the top spot in the Black Forest with Edison (5-4, 49th RPI). The Bulldogs hit the road on Friday, looking to rebound from a 43-31 loss to Flagler/Hi-Plains (2-9, 40th RPI) last week. After opening the season 4-0, Elbert has only won two of its last five games. History is on the side of the Bulldogs in this series, as they’ve won all 16 meetings, dating back to 2006. Last season’s match-up was only decided by seven points, 49-42.
When the dust settles on Friday night, either Arickaree/Woodlin (5-6, 18th RPI) or Idalia (5-8, 22nd RPI) will remain tied with Otis (6-4, 38th RPI) atop the YWKC standings. The Indian-Mustangs visit the Wolves and neither team has had much success this month. Arickaree/Woodlin is just 1-4 in January, while Idalia is 2-4 during the month, having dropped three straight. Micah Koolstra leads the Indian-Mustangs at just under 13 points a game, while Adriana Herrera tops Idalia at just a shade over eight. Arickaree/Woodlin won two of three meetings last year, but the series is still very lopsided in favor of the Wolves, who had won 13 straight from December of 2013 through January of 2017.
In one of the contests featuring two ranked opponents, fourth ranked Haxtun (10-1, 8th RPI) hosts 2A #4 Wray on Friday. The Bulldogs are tied with Yuma atop the Lower Platte standings and Wray sits one game back. Haxtun has reeled off six straight victories since a non-league loss to 2A Holyoke in mid-December, while the Eagles have won two in a row since falling to Yuma at the buzzer two weeks back.
Wray, who has won 14 of the last 15 games with Haxtun (seven straight), is led by Taby Jones (12 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Morgan Smith (11.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg). The Bulldogs will counter with Dawson Knode, who fills the stat sheet with 14.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 4.6 steals a game. Brooklyn Davis gives coach Rich Gerk a second main scoring threat, averaging just over 10 points a night.
Second-ranked Briggsdale (12-0, 2nd RPI) hits the road on Saturday, trying to sweep the regular season series against #7 Fleming (10-2, 11th RPI). The Falcons won the first meeting 61-52 at home, behind 21 points from freshman Kylie Krise and 17 more from sophomore Shelby Hoffman. Fleming’s lone senior, Jenna Lengfelder, led the Wildcats with 15. Sophomore Kendyl Kirkwood added 12 points and 16 rebounds, while freshman Whitney Chintala chipped in 12 points and five steals. A win by Briggsdale essentially wraps up the North Central title, while Fleming grabs a share of the lead with an upset.
Headlining Saturday’s non-league slate is #5 Sangre de Cristo (9-1, 5th RPI) hosting 2A #3 Swink. The Thunderbirds have won four straight heading into this weekend’s schedule, including a 51-12 domination of #10 Cotopaxi (10-2, 7th RPI) last Friday. They’ll have to fend off La Veta (7-4, 28th RPI) on Friday before turning their attention to the Lions. Kylee Christensen had a season-low eight points in Sangre’s 60-25 win over Antonito last Saturday, but the sophomore still averages better than 14 a game to lead the squad.
Swink has put 10 straight wins in the column since dropping its opener to 3A #5 Centauri. That streak is likely to grow to 11 as the Lions host 2A Swallows Charter Academy on Friday. Brianna Denton posted her fourth 20-point game of the season last week against John Mall. The senior leads Swink with 17.6 points a game, while also snaring better than three steals a contest.
South Baca (10-0, 4th RPI) puts its 10-game winning streak on the line when the third-ranked Patriots visit McClave (7-5, 16th RPI). The Patriots have scored at least 48 points in every game, with the trio of Delaney Eskew (13.3 ppg), Alissa Hebberd (12.7 ppg), and Patience Crane (11.0 ppg) doing most of the heavy lifting. Those three average 37 points a game between them. South Baca has won five of the last six meetings against McClave, who just had a three-game winning streak snapped by Springfield (7-3, 12th RPI) last week.
Merino (7-3, 20th RPI) takes a five-game winning streak into this weekend’s games and the Rams have a chance to make it an even six-pack heading into Saturday’s clash with 2A #2 Limon. Merino visits 2A Sedgwick County on Friday, and they’ve won three straight over the Cougars. Limon is ranked #1 in RPI in 2A and takes a nine-game winning streak into the game with the Rams. Their only loss on the season is to top-ranked Kit Carson (12-0, 1st RPI).
The Badgers have three regular rotation players averaging at least eight points a game, led by Toni Lopez at 9.8. Anna Weisensee adds nine points a night, and Sidney Hines gives another eight. Hannah Pejsa-Stegner tops the Rams at 9.4 points a game, while Lydia Pejsa-Stegner adds 8.4 points.>