As the season hits mid-January basketball fans in Class 2A are starting to see a few league powers collide.  That’s the case this week in both the Lower Platte and Santa Fe conferences as results from two games may clear up the championship races a bit.
Both games of note are set for Friday as Yuma visits Holyoke inside the Lower Platte and unbeaten Crowley County makes the short drive to Fowler for the first of two meetings in the Santa Fe.
Yuma is ranked 5th in the Class 2A CHSAA poll but was found all the way down at 19th in the first official RPI standings of the season.  They sit 6-2 on the season and are coming off a dominant performance in a 55-12 league win over Wiggins.  The Indians did not allow a first half point and went to the fourth quarter with a 50-2 advantage.  Coach Dave Sheffield’s club showed little ill-effect from a long layoff as the game was their first action since December 15th.
Against Holyoke, the Indians look for a win over the defending state champion.  The Dragons are below five hundred overall (5-6) but as in the past, they’re a much better club after Christmas than before.  They’ve won four of five with their only loss in the stretch coming in a tight 47-37 battle with top ranked Sedgwick County.  Yuma’s defense may take a page from the Sedgwick County defense as the Cougars held Holyoke’s leading scorer Arturo Dominquez scoreless.  He entered the contest averaging 13 a game.
Sedgwick County’s unbeaten season ended on Tuesday as they lost at 1A #2 Peetz 67-49.  They were outscored 20-5 in the fourth quarter.  It was just their fourth loss in three years and marked the most points they’ve allowed since surrendering 74 to Resurrection Christian in the 2016 state semifinals.
The Cougars return to Lower Platte play on Friday at Merino.  Sedgwick County is 3-0 in the conference with wins over Wiggins, Holyoke and Wray.  Looming in the near future is a game with Yuma next Friday which will become more important if the Indians get by Holyoke this week.
Just five games into the 14-game Santa Fe league slate, Crowley County and Fowler have already built up a two-game cushion on all other challengers.  Neither has lost a league game so Friday’s winner takes over sole possession of first place.  Crowley County has won every league game by at least 18 points and Fowler has been pushed only once; a five-point win over Swallows Charter.
Crowley County overcame a slow shooting start to knock off Hoehne 56-38 last week.  Hayden Carter, with 16 points and four three-pointers, led four Chargers in double figures.  Bradley Clabey-Carnes had 12, Raymundo Suarez 11 and Chris Meyer 10.  Meyer also fired in a pair of three-pointers.
Fowler also played Hoehne last week and dropped the Farmers 60-48.  Jakob Juhl, Val Leone and Brand Sharp all finished with 11 points.  Leone, averaging seven points a game as a freshman, has reached double figures in two of three games since Christmas.  He had a career best 17 in a three-point loss to Calhan.
Defense ruled both league matchups a year ago.  Crowley County won both games but did not top 40 points in either game but held Fowler to a total of 54 points.  Fowler avenged both losses by beating the Chargers 45-35 in the district tournament.
Rocky Ford and Hoehne are tied for third with two league losses apiece.  They meet on Friday with the winner ending up alone in third.  Rocky Ford also has a key date with Fowler on Saturday.
The top four clubs in the Black Forest face off this weekend as Evangelical Christian entertains Miami Yoder on Friday and Simla goes to Calhan on Saturday.  Miami-Yoder has split their first two conference games while the other three are all 2-0.
The Buffs (5-3) are off to their best start in many years and with five wins already are within range of getting to double digits in that category.  Their most wins since 2005-06 is 12 and they’ve had more than eight only twice in that span.
Their league loss came against Calhan in a high-scoring 81-62 affair last week.  For Calhan, it was their fifth straight win and continued a season trend of scoring plenty of points.  Charles Sparks (12.8) led the way with 23 points and Ben Kelly (15.2) added 22.  Freshman Isaiah Thomas (9.2) chipped in 12.  Bradley Glick (8.7) and Nathan Deputy (7.5) are two others than can put points on the board when called upon.
Simla was 6-0 before dropping two games last week.  Slow starts hampered the Cubs in both losses.  They allowed 21 first quarter points and fell behind by eight in a 64-48 home loss to Byers and then allowed 17 first quarter points and faced a nine-point deficit in a 52-51 loss to Rye.  League wins for the Cubs are against Dolores Huerta (69-56) and Peyton (65-28).
With seniors holding down nine of the top 11 scoring averages for Evangelical Christian, the Eagles are easily the most experienced team in the Black Forest.  Justin Holt is the top scorer (14.7) but it was the combination of Bradley Hartsock (10.6) and Cameron Rawlings (9.6) who led them in a key league win over Ellicott.  Hartsock compiled 10 points and nine rebounds and Rawlings topped all scorers with 17.  Those efforts overcame poor shooting as the Eagles hit just 16 of 49 shots overall (33%).
Seven teams are within one game of the Western Slope lead.  Rangely (3-0), Paonia (4-0), and Vail Christian (5-0) are tied for first but Meeker, DeBeque, Vail Mountain and Hotchkiss all have just one league loss.  Games that are most important this week find Hotchkiss at Paonia on Thursday, DeBeque at Rangely on Friday, and Vail Christian at Meeker on Saturday.
For Vail Christian, their trip to Meeker represents their toughest league test to date.  It also begins a stretch where they also face Paonia, DeBeque and Rangely in a two-week span.  The Saints should collect a sixth league win on Thursday before prepping for the crucial stretch.
Bryan Trujillo (16.4) and Sebastian Moritz (15.3) are two double figure scorers for Vail Christian and Zack McKeever (9.7) is nearly a third.  McKeever (10.2 rebounds) has been strong in league play with 52 points and 48 rebounds through five games.  Trujillo dropped in a season best 22 in the Plateau Valley win and Moritz has scored 17 points in each of his last three outings.
Meeker suffered through poor outside shooting in last week’s loss to Rangely.  The Cowboys had netted at least two three-pointers in every game but hit just one of 15 attempts against the Panthers.  The Panther meantime knocked in eight three-pointers including three apiece from Patrick Scroggins and Kobe Broome and two from Devin Ramirez.
Based on quality players lost to graduation, Paonia’s 4-0 conference start may be considered a surprise.  The Eagles though still have the brunt of the conference schedule ahead of them and it begins at home against Hotchkiss.  Paonia topped the Bulldogs 60-43 in December and that win started the Eagles on their current five-game winning streak.  Hotchkiss lost a share of first place with their 54-45 loss to 1A DeBeque last week.
Sargent went 0-2 last week with losses to Sangre De Cristo (44-24) and Del Norte (49-24) and face two more challenges again this week.  They host Ignacio on Thursday and then visit Sanford two nights later.  Both games can impact RPI for all three teams as Ignacio enters the week at #22 with Sanford and Sargent 25th and 26th respectively.
Sanford snapped a two-game winning streak with Tuesday’s loss to 3A Pagosa Springs.  They had won their first two games since the holidays in beating Crested Butte (45-22) and Center (66-35).
Despite the low RPI, Ignacio is unbeaten against 2A opponents.  They kept that streak intact by blowing past Ridgway (67-30) and Telluride (61-46) last week.  They’re tied for first in the San Juan with Ouray and will meet the Trojans in the final game of the season (February 17th).
Johnny Valdez (17.9) leads the Bobcats in scoring and has not been held under 12 points in any game this year.  Kai Roubideaux (13.3) is next including a season high 22 in a loss to Bayfield.  Lawrence Ruffin-Valdez (12.9) did not score in the Bayfield game but has produced 19 points in two games in wins over Dove Creek and Dolores.
Limon may have been the surprise choice at #1 in the RPI standings this week as the Badgers have a loss to #2 Crowley County and three wins over 1A opponents.  The Badgers are tied with Byers atop the Union Pacific (both 1-0) and should collect a second conference win over Deer Trail this Friday.  They also host Akron on Saturday.  A bigger test could come on Tuesday against Simla.  Byers is on the schedule for February 9th.
Byers opened Union Pacific play with a convincing 72-51 win over Burlington last Friday.  Nine players scored for the Bulldogs with Austin Davis picking up a team best 17.  Brady Shelley (15) and Rhett Tristan Davis (11) also reached double figures.
The Bulldogs take on Flagler/Hi Plains in league play this Friday and then have a good date with Denver Christian on Saturday that could impact district tournament brackets.  It’s a non-conference game but both clubs will compete for the District 4 crown.
Denver Christian opened their week with a Mile-High league loss (44-33) to Dayspring Christian on Tuesday.  The Thunder also host Front Range Christian on Thursday.
The win pushed Dayspring Christian to 3-1 in conference play and they stay one game back of co-leaders Heritage Christian (3-0) and Highland (4-0).  Gilpin County (2-1), Union Colony Prep (1-1) and Front Range Christian (1-1) also have just one league loss.
Highland scored a 73-49 win at Lyons on Tuesday and has concluded league play for the week.  They go to Akron on Friday.  The Huskies outscored Lyons 26-9 in the second quarter and 21-0 in the third.  Heritage Christian topped Twin Peaks Charter (58-35) and goes to Gilpin County on Friday.  Union Colony Prep has just one league game this week and that’s a Thursday trip to Dawson.