While the teams behind them keep shifting, Kit Carson remains a steady force at #1. The Wildcats ran their record to 7-0 with a pair of victories over two YWKC opponents last week. They aren’t involved in any of the key games this week, but a number of other top teams are.
Heritage Christian, who fell from the rankings after not playing a game last week, dropped their Mile High league opener on Tuesday to 2A Denver Christian. The Eagles dug an early hole, trailing 26-16 at the half. They rallied in the second half, but came up short, 45-41. They’ll be back in action on Thursday, visiting 2A Dawson in league play.
Despite a 7-2 record, Longmont Christian is flying under the radar. The Warriors already own two wins this week after downing 2A Union Colony (41-39) on Tuesday and Cornerstone Christian (74-44) on Wednesday. They are 1-1 in the Mile High and will visit 2A Highland for a league contest on Friday.
Whitney Echols is the lone Warrior averaging more than eight points a game, checking in at just over 19. The junior scored a career-high 28 points in last week’s 40-35 loss to Gilpin County. Maddie Lehnherr adds 7.6 points and 8.2 rebounds a game.
The biggest game on the Thursday night schedule takes place in the North Central, where #3 Briggsdale (6-1) hosts Weldon Valley (6-3), looking for the regular season sweep of the Warriors. The Falcons claimed a 66-35 win over the Warriors on Dec. 16, jumping out to a 46-13 halftime lead. Skyla Miller was one of three Falcons in double figures that night, leading all scorers with 21 points. Nikki Anderson and Jodel Erickson each added 13. Kirsten Wood was the only Weldon Valley player to crack double digits, finishing with 15.
Briggsdale is 2-1 in the NCL, with its only loss coming to #2 Fleming, 54-51. The Falcons will host round two with the Wildcats in two weeks and will look to keep pace until then. Miller leads their very balanced attack at 11.7 points a night, followed closely by Erickson at 11.6. Ailaina Suppes (9.3), Ashley Rueb (8.7), Anderson (8.1), and Kimberlyn Krise (6.0) provide extra scoring depth.
Weldon Valley is just 1-2 inside the North Central, but it has won three straight games overall. The Warriors broke a two-game skid at the end of December with a lopsided win over Denver Jewish Day (69-23). They backed that up with a pair of close victories last week, dropping Caliche (51-47) and Otis (45-41).
Wood leads the squad in scoring at 13.1 points and Britney Filter is next at 10.9. While those two account for over half of the team’s scoring, one category that shows how balanced the Warriors are is rebounding. Six players grab between 4.6 and 6.3 boards per game. Filter and Wood are two of those players. They are joined by Karissa Schulte, Kenndra Filter, Brittney Leist, and Kaybree Keating.
Two big games are slated for Friday, both in the southern part of the state. South Baca (4-2), one of the squads just outside of the rankings, will host #9 Holly (6-2) in one of those contests. The Patriots have posted four straight wins after being swept in the RL Ballard Tournament to open the season. The latest of those victories came last Friday when they took care of Felt OK. Delaney Eskew was one of four Patriots in double figures, tallying 17 points. Alissa Hebberd (13), Alison Wilson (12), and Patience Crane (11) joined Eskew. Three are sophomores and the fourth, Hebberd, is a freshman.
Holly reeled off five straight wins before falling to Kit Carson in the finals of the Lamar Holiday Tournament, 64-34. The Wildcats have not played since that Dec. 16 loss. They have lost six consecutive games against South Baca, including two last year. South Baca took the regular season meeting 62-46, and then won a nail biter in the postseason, 60-56. The winner goes to 1-0 in the Arkansas Valley.
That’s just one of two important match-ups for the Patriots this weekend, as they also visit Wiley (4-4) on Saturday. This is another Ark Valley contest and Wiley was 0-1 in the league entering the week. The Panthers dropped a 50-25 decision to #4 Kim/Branson (9-0) last Friday. The Panthers have not strung together consecutive victories since beginning the season 2-0. They did snap their second two-game skid of the season with a 52-30 win at Granada last Saturday. After winning six straight against South Baca, Wiley has dropped the last five meetings.
Fresh off a 49-32 victory over 2A Rocky Ford in last week’s battle of unbeatens, #10 Sangre de Cristo (7-0) plays two big games this weekend. The Thunderbirds visit 2A Sargent (4-2) on Thursday for the latest installment of the Seven-Mile Border War, before hosting Cotopaxi (5-1) in Southern Peaks play on Friday.
Sangre continues to be led by its dynamic duo of Jessica Slane (19.7 ppg) and Kylee Christensen (13.9 ppg), who combined for 29 points in the win over Rocky Ford last week. Avery Palmgren (7.6), Lexi Metz (7.3), and Makenzie Rogers (5.9) help with the scoring. The T-Birds had won seven straight against Sargent prior to last season’s 66-30 loss to the Farmers.
After going a combined 20-20 over the last two seasons, Cotopaxi is looking at a potential breakthrough this year. The lone loss for the Pirates coming into the week was a 49-39 defeat by #7 La Veta (5-1) in mid-December. Heading into a Thursday night game at 2A Custer County, Cotopaxi had not played in three weeks.
On a team that gets significant contributions from a number of underclassmen, senior Hope Bondurant is the leading scorer at 13 points a night. She’s also second in rebounding at just over six a game. Looking ahead to the contest with Sangre de Cristo, the Pirates have lost the last four meetings. Two of those came last year, by 25 and 27 points.
The final featured match-up of the week has Kim/Branson visiting McClave (5-3) on Saturday. The Mustangs own wins over three teams that missed the top 10, but received votes and three more over ranked foes. After picking up wins over #8 Springfield and #7 La Veta in early December, Kim/Branson strengthened its RPI by downing #5 Antonito last week, 52-42.
McClave opened the season 4-1, but then dropped its last two games in the Lamar Holiday Tournament to finish the first month 4-3. The Cardinals got back in the win column by dominating Centennial last Friday, 61-21. Saturday is the start of a brutal stretch for the Cards, who will also face #1 Kit Carson, #8 Springfield, and then quality opponents South Baca, Cheraw, and Cheyenne Wells in consecutive games.