As we hit the middle of January, Colorado Preps takes a crack at their first post-season projections for the 1A Girls’ Basketball post-season. Compared to the boys’ division we posted earlier today, there’s not nearly as many question marks in the districts as the top two or three teams have started to pull away from the rest of the field.
Region One will pit the top two finishers from Districts 1 and 7 in cross bracket play. The top team from District 1 faces the runner-up from District 7 and then the District 7 winner takes on the second-place team from District 1. Winners of each game advance to the state tournament.
Right now, it looks like the Western Slope will take the top two spots in District 1 as we have North Park and De Beque finishing 1-2. North Park has the advantage as they beat De Beque last week but the Dragons also played the game without senior guard Jentry Largent. The team leader suffered an injury the night before.
Dove Creek (6-4) and Ouray (4-3) have the best records in the San Juan and could challenge either North Park or De Beque for one of the top two spots. The clubs haven’t faced off yet this season but each has faced Nucla with Dove Creek gaining the win and Ouray coming up short.
Genoa Hugo (8-1) is heavily favored to land the District 7 crown. The Pirates are always ready for the post-season following a strong regular season schedule and this year is no different. Their lone loss is against 2A Limon. Elbert (5-2) is our pick to land the second spot in districts. They have a good win over Byers (41-32) and also topped Cheraw. Losses are to 2A rivals Peyton and Calhan.
Pikes Peak Christian and Deer Trail seem to be the top challengers. Pikes Peak Christian topped Deer Trail 34-31 earlier this year.
REGION ONE PAIRINGS (Projected)
North Park vs Elbert
Genoa Hugo vs De Beque
For Region Two, the top three finishers from Districts 4, 5, and 8 advance to a nine-team regional tournament. The top three seeds earn a first day bye and then face a winner from round one. Winners of those three games on day two of the tournament qualify for the state tournament.
Briggsdale and Fleming are the top two teams in District 4. Briggsdale (10-0) is our choice at number one since they topped the Wildcats (61-52) in the first of two meetings. The Rematch is set for January 26th. Fleming (8-2) is slotted at number two in our district projections.
The race for the third spot seems to be between Merino (5-3), Prairie (6-5) and Longmont Christian (6-3). Of those three, Merino is our pick. They have a head-to-head win over Prairie and their only 1A loss is against a very good Haxtun club. Prairie (6-5) has a chance to climb the ladder as they face both Briggsdale and Fleming this weekend. Longmont Christian (6-3) has suffered each loss to a 2A opponent and could easily be the number three choice ahead of Merino.
Haxtun is the easy pick for the District 5 championship. The Bulldogs (9-1) avenged their lone loss of the season by edging Holyoke 38-37 last Friday. They still have the likes of Kit Carson, Yuma and Wray on their schedule so they will be more than battle-tested once the playoffs arrive.
Spots two and three are up for grabs as Otis, Stratton/Liberty, Arickaree/Woodlin, Idalia and Lone Star could all easily advance. Our picks right now are Otis and Stratton/Liberty but we could easily make the case for the other three. Otis (6-2) has the best record of the bunch plus they have a good win over Prairie. Stratton/Liberty has just two wins, but one came against Arickaree/Woodlin over the weekend. Idalia (5-6) lost to Eads over the weekend but has a good win over Lone Star. Lone Star (8-2) has a misleading record as many of their wins are against JV opponents but they’ve played very well in losses to Idalia (42-38) and Arickaree/Woodlin (59-57). They also beat Prairie so they will be in the district mix as well.
District 8 is routinely the most difficult district to predict as teams there as a whole do not play strong schedules. Belleview Christian (8-2) has far and away the best record but our pick for the top seed is Front Range Baptist (2-4). They beat Belleview Christian head-to-head so we give the nod to the Falcons. Belleview Christian has won seven-in-a-row since that loss.
Spot number three goes to Shining Mountain. Their best win is against Front Range Christian (2A) but they have lopsided losses to Prairie, Arickaree/Woodlin and Briggsdale. We don’t expect any of the three to gain a win in the district tournament since almost every opponent will have played stronger competition.
With our district qualifiers in place, we then use RPI standings from January 13th to place teams in the regional tournament bracket.
REGION TWO BRACKETS (Projected)
#6 Otis vs #7 Front Range Baptist – winner faces #1 Briggsdale
#5 Merino vs #8 Shining Mountain – winner faces #2 Haxtun
#4 Belleview Christian vs #5 Merino – winner faces #3 Fleming
Region Three consists of the top three qualifiers from Districts 2, 3 and 6 and again those nine clubs play a two-day tournament to determine three state qualifiers. The top three seeds get first round byes and meet winners from day one.
The top pick for District 2 is the easiest decision we have as Kit Carson will gain that spot. The Wildcats are favored to land a third straight consecutive state championship and should roll through districts on the way there.
Behind them, we have McClave and Eads as our choices for spots two and three. McClave has won three consecutive games and also topped Eads in the Lamar tournament. The two teams meet again on Friday so the order could flip-flop based on that result. Cheraw (6-5) could challenge. The Wolverines though are not among our top three at this time based on a loss to McClave last week. They also fell to Wash.
In District 3, South Baca is our pick at number one. The Patriots (8-0) are unbeaten and have wins over district rivals Wiley (54-42 last week) and Springfield (49-39). They host Walsh on Saturday. Despite the loss to South Baca, Wiley is our selection at number two and Springfield is the choice at number three. Both the Panthers and Longhorns have a win over Kim/Branson. The Mustangs have spent much time in the top 10 this year but have lost three of their last four and are not among our choices to advance. But the Mustangs will be a difficult out for sure. And don’t count out Walsh. The Eagles have just three wins but played Springfield within six points.
Sangre De Cristo (7-1) is heavily favored to land the District 6 championship with top challenges coming from La Veta and Cotopaxi. Because of scheduling, we could get a very good indication of how the districts may shake out before the end of January. Cotopaxi plays both Sangre De Cristo and La Veta this week while La Veta and Sangre De Cristo get together next week.
Sangre’s lone loss came against 2A heavyweight Del Norte. Cotopaxi (9-1) has a similar resume with their lone setback against once beaten Rye (2A). La Veta (6-3) has losses to Cheraw, Kim/Branson and South Baca so they’ve played a tough schedule. Right now we have Cotopaxi #2 and La Veta #3 behind Sangre De Cristo.
Antonito (3-4) and possibly Mountain Valley (6-2) could push for a top three spot but the gap between spots three and four seems to be big. La Veta beat Antonito 49-30 and Mountain Valley fell to Antonito 53-43. Mountain Valley also lost to Cotopaxi 66-31.
REGION THREE BRACKET (Projected)
#6 Springfield vs #7 McClave – winner faces #1 Kit Carson
#5 Cotopaxi vs #8 Eads – winner faces #2 South Baca
#4 Wiley vs #9 La Veta – winner faces #3 Sangre De Cristo
DISTRICT TOURNAMENT QUALIFIERS (Projected)
#1 North Park
#2 De Beque
#1 Kit Carson
#1 South Baca
#1 Sangre De Cristo
#3 La Veta
#1 Genoa Hugo
#1 Front Range Baptist
#2 Belleview Christian
#3 Shining Mountain