The Lower Platte takes center stage in Class 2A this week as Yuma heads to Sedgwick County on Friday in what could be the league championship tilt.  Both clubs are ranked in the top five of 2A again this week and the winner lands the inside track to the league title and number one district tournament seed.
Sedgwick County is already halfway through their league schedule posting wins over Wiggins, Wray, Merino and Holyoke.  They also handled Haxtun 49-28 in non-conference play so a win over Yuma on Friday puts them in great shape to land another crown.
Yuma has just one conference win (Wiggins) but has beaten Holyoke, Wray and Akron in non-league action so they too would be favored to run through the rest of their Lower Platte slate.
Neither team has posted stats to MaxPreps but we have a good idea of who the key contributors could be for both clubs.
Sedgwick County returns Cole McKinley (9.1), Colton Woodhams (5.7) Brennan Ehmke (4.6) and Chandon Dunker (1.5) who averaged a combined 21 points for last year’s club that reached the state championship game.
Yuma is led inside by the duo of Jakob Chrisman and Diego Covarrubias with outside scoring provided by Connor Hixon.
Pace could the determining factor.  Yuma averages 60.7 per game totaling 668 points in 11 games.  Sedgwick, at 47.5 per game, is more methodical with 571 points in 12 games played to date.
Akron (1-0) should be able to keep pace with the winner as they’ll be favored against Wiggins on Friday.  Next week, the Rams have a difficult back-to-back stretch against Haxtun and Holyoke.  Despite a three-game losing streak, the Rams are getting better.  Losses have come against Highland (61-55), Limon (64-54) and Yuma (56-32).  All three teams are ranked in the top seven this week.
Two more league leaders get together this weekend as Sanford heads to Del Norte on Saturday.  The teams are a combined 7-0 in the Southern Peaks so the outcome likely determines first and second place in the league and district tournament.
Del Norte has won eight straight since a loss to 3A La Junta back on December 7th.  They’ve posted league wins over South Park, Sargent, Center and Custer County with only one decided by single digits.  That came last Friday in the rivalry win over Center (60-56).
Sanford has won four of five since Christmas with the lone loss coming to 3A Pagosa Springs.  The Indians of course will focus defensively on sharp-shooting Carlos Parra and some of the strategy involves being patience on offense.  Look for the Indians to slow tempo and work the ball around in the half court game forcing the Tigers to play defense 30-45 seconds each time down.
The teams played three times a year ago with Del Norte taking both regular season matchups and Sanford avenging the losses in the district tournament.  All three were decided by single digits; including one to overtime and another by one point.  A similar battle could occur this weekend.
The schedule this week also includes two crossover battles between top clubs in Union Pacific and Black Forest conferences.  One has already been played and it did not disappoint as Simla rallied to upend Limon 64-63 in overtime.  The Cubs outscored the Badgers 15-5 in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then got a huge three-pointer from Joel George to tie the game in the extra session.  George also hit the game winning free throw with two seconds left and finished with 32 points.  Brad Mazerall added 11 points and Cole Mitchell pulled down nine rebounds for the winner.
Game two is a nice meeting between Byers and Calhan in a battle of Bulldogs on Thursday night.  Byers has won four straight since a loss to ECA including a nice win over Simla.  Calhan also beat Simla last week so based on comparison scores, it should be a nice battle.
Austin Davis (17.4) is the leading scorer for Byers and has played well against top competition.  He scored 29 in an early win over Holyoke and has since added 24 against Simla and 21 against Denver Christian.  Bradley Shelley (13.5) and Hayden McCuen (11.1) are two other double figure scorers for Byers.
Calhan dropped a December game to Burlington has captured seven straight wins since.  Ben Kelley (15.2) leads the scoring charts with Charles Sparks (12.9) and Isaiah Thomas (9.2) close behind.  Sparks is the top rebounder (11.9) and the freshman Thomas is next on that list (5.7).
Defense though carried Calhan past Simla last week.  They limited the Cubs to just 31 percent from the field overall (16-52) and just 21 percent from the three-point line (4-19).  The win though didn’t count in the Black Forest standings as the two clubs meet again next month.
Calhan also hosts Evangelical Christian on Friday so it’s an important back-to-back stretch for the Bulldogs.  Both games will impact Calhan’s RPI ranking but the ECA game will also factor into the conference chase.
The Eagles have reeled off four straight since a nine-point loss to Limon.  Included in that run are league wins over Peyton and Ellicott.  Justin Holt is the team leader in points (15.5) and rebounds (7.5).  The senior tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds in last week’s win over Miami Yoder.  Holt hit 10 of 12 shots from the field including three treys.
Bradley Hartshock (10.7) and Cameron Rawlings (9.9) combine for nearly 21 points per game.  Together they dropped in 25 against Miami Yoder.
Limon returns to the court on Thursday for another non-league date with Peyton.  Their next conference game is a week from Friday against Stratton/Liberty.  Simla hosts league rival Ellicott on Friday for a non-conference matchup.  They play their league contest on February 16th.
First place Highland has a key game with Gilpin County inside the Mile High on Friday night.  The host Tigers were tied with Heritage Christian (1A) in second place before Tuesday’s 51-37 loss to Union Colony Prep.  Now they need to upset the first place Huskies to stay within range of the top spot.
For Highland, a win moves them one step closer to repeating as conference champions.  They’ve already beaten Dayspring Christian and Longmont Christian so a victory leaves them a win against Heritage Christian on February 10th from another crown.
The Huskies are getting plenty of points from the trio of Tate Bessire (16.6), Trey Allmon (13.1) and Koby Anderson (12.5).  Bessire has scored at least nine points in every game this year including a career best 30 vs Longmont Christian.  He also netted 25 vs Eaton.  Allmon has reached double figures in nine of 11 games this year including the last four.  He’s also collected five steals in three different games.  Anderson leads the Huskies in rebounds (7.9) and has produced double-doubles against Platte Valley and Lyons.
Gilpin County has just one win outside the conference but is very much alive for the league title. Their best league win came against Heritage Christian (45-38).  Will Lorenz, with 14 points, led the way in that one.  Tanner Davis finished with 12 and Austin Boulter 10.  The Tigers had six three-pointers overall including four from Lorenz and two from Davis.
Meeker and Hotchkiss both stayed in the Western Slope chase with important wins last weekend.  Meeker downed Vail Christian 68-58 and Hotchkiss held off Paonia 55-50.  The results left all four teams with one loss and tied for second behind Rangely which remains unbeaten in conference play (5-0).
Eli Newman and Logan Hughes both recorded double-doubles for Meeker.  Newman finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Hughes ended up with 11 points and 11 rebounds.  Doak Mantle was a third Cowboy in double figures as he netted 11.
Bryan Trujillo led the Saints with 21 points and 10 boards.  Zach McKeever and Joseph Emmer each chipped in 11.
Hotchkiss put four in double figures against Paonia led by Sam Rodriguez with a dozen.  Braxton Trujillo, Eli Sawatzky and Jonathan Gonzalez all finished with ten.  The loss snapped Paonia’s five game winning streak.
Looking to this weekend, the most important game is Friday as Paonia heads to Vail Christian.  The Eagles also host DeBeque on Saturday.  Rangely is home to Vail Mountain and visits Plateau Valley on Saturday.  Meeker has just one conference game on tap as they visit Vail Mountain on Saturday.
Kind of quiet inside both the Santa Fe and San Juan conferences this week.  Top ranked Crowley County held off Fowler 41-40 last week and now sit alone the Santa Fe standings (8-0).  It was Fowler’s first conference loss.  All other teams have at least three league losses so it again appears to be a two-team race between the Chargers and Grizzlies.  The rematch is February 9th.
In last week’s win, the Chargers outscored the Grizzlies 26-16 over the second and third quarters.  Bradley Carnes-Clabey hit five of eight shots and finished with 13 points.  He also hauled down nine rebounds.  That effort was virtually matched by Fowler’s Val Leone.  The freshman ended the game with 13 points and eight rebounds.  Quinton Flanscha added 11.
Crowley County meets Las Animas Friday and Swallows Charter on Saturday.  Fowler tangles with Swink and John Mall on the same two nights.
Ignacio rallied from seven points down with 90 seconds left to stun Sargent 48-44 last week.  The Bobcats scored the final 11 points of the game to stay unbeaten against 2A opponents.  They meet Dolores on Thursday and a second win over the Bears gives Ignacio a commanding three-game edge on 2A rivals within the conference.  They captured game one 69-45.