Several conference meetings between championship contenders highlight an important week across the 2A boys’ basketball landscape.  Among the top games are Sedgwick County-Fowler, Crowley County-Hoehne, Meeker-Rangely, Del Norte-Sargent and Highland-Longmont Christian.
We begin with the state championship rematch between local rivals Sedgwick County and Holyoke.  The Dragons of course downed the Cougars last March to land the championship, but they lost seven talented seniors to graduation.  Because of that, they spent much of December determining roles for all the new faces.  Sedgwick County, meantime, has spent each game this year rotating 10-12 players as the Cougars also look to determine their top seven-eight for the playoff run later this year.
It’s the second meeting between the two.  Sedgwick County took the first game 40-36.  They led 22-13 at halftime and held the lead from there.  In January, the Cougars have collected wins over Wiggins 53-21 and Fleming 47-38 behind the solid play of seniors Cole McKinley, Tyson Marquez, Cody Woodhams and Brennan Ehmke.
Arturo Dominguez led Holyoke with 17 points in game one.  He’s been in double figures in seven of eight games and has taken over the leadership duties this season.  Dominguez dropped in 14 against Haxtun last week and then knocked in a career best 26 points against Burlington.  Freshman Tate Dille chips in nearly 10 points and eight rebounds a game and sophomore Mason King provides eight points and seven boards.
Friday’s winner stands in good shape conference race but still must get by Yuma before claiming the league championship.  Haxtun could also play a role before seasons end but must rebound from the loss to Holyoke last week.
Yuma (5-2) plays their first game in nearly a month when they visit Wiggins on Friday.  The Indians last put on the game uniforms in a 70-52 win over Wray on December 15th.  Coach Dave Sheffield’s club is favored this week and then will prep for the first of several important Lower Platte games at Holyoke next Friday.
Three teams share the early Santa Fe conference lead as Crowley County (4-0), Fowler (3-0) and Hoehne (3-0) all remain unbeaten.  Every other club already has suffered at least two losses, so it may be a three-team race.  As mentioned, Crowley County takes on Hoehne Friday but another key game the next night pits the Farmers against Fowler.  Should Hoehne win both, they will have the outright first-half lead.
Beating Crowley County won’t be an easy task.  The Chargers have rolled to eight wins outscoring opponents by 199 points.  They’ve posted two league wins over Rocky Ford and knocked off Las Animas and Swallows Charter in dominating fashion.
Bradley Carnes-Clabey leads the team in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (10.4) and chips in over two steals, blocks and assists per game.  Hayden Carter (9.5) is the top outside threat with 10 three-pointers.  Lane Walter adds 11 points and seven rebounds a game while newcomer Ti’Quan Williams (5.9) directs the offense.
Hoehne (7-1) has won seven in a row since an opening loss to 3A La Junta.  They’re just four wins away from matching last year’s total (11-11).  League wins have come against John Mall, Swallows Charter, Swink and Las Animas so these two games will be their most difficult tests to date.  They finished third last in league play last season (9-5).
Fowler, which also tangles with Las Animas on Friday, has collected two straight wins since a loss to Calhan (55-52).  Should Hoehne upset Crowley County on Friday, the Grizzlies can take over the conference lead with two wins this weekend.  Youngsters Johnathon Mobbley and Drew Egan have developed nicely on the inside.  Mobbley, a sophomore, averages eight points and eight rebounds and Egan, a junior, provides nearly eight points and five boards a game.  Senior Quinton Flanscha brings leadership along with 7.5 points and 3.5 steals per contest.
Meeker and Rangely enter Thursday’s matchup with identical 2-0 league records and a share of the West Slope lead with Paonia, Hotchkiss, Vail Christian and DeBeque.  The league schedule consists of 12-games so regardless the winner, that club will have much more work to do before even thinking of a league crown.
Both opened conference with a pair of double-digit victories last week.  Meeker took out West Grand (50-38) and Hayden (66-28).  Rangely also downed Hayden (70-28) and blew past Soroco (70-52).
Against West Grand, Meeker shot better from the three-point line (42%) than inside (38%).  They finished with eight threes while Logan Hughes (15) and Zach Dinwiddie (14) took home scoring honors.  The Cowboys also outrebounded the Mustangs 33-26 with Eli Newman pulling down 10.
That outside shooting did not carry over against Hayden where the Cowboys hit just three of 18 three-point attempts.  Dinwiddie, with 18 points, had another strong offensive night and Doak Mantle added 15.
For Rangely, they placed three players in double figures in both wins. Patrick Scroggins led the way in both games with 19 vs Hayden and 18 against Soroco.  He averages 16 for the season.  Cameron Filfred netted 12 points against Hayden and then recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds against Soroco.  Doug Denison dropped in a dozen in game one and Devin Ramirez finished with 11 in game two.
Another contest featuring two league unbeatens is Saturday in DeBeque between the unbeaten Dragons and Hotchkiss.  That game will be covered in our 1A report this week.  Paonia goes to Soroco and Hayden this week, and Vail Christian tangles with Hayden and Plateau Valley.  The Saints downed Vail Mountain 72-43 on Tuesday behind 17 points from Sebastin Moritz and 14 from Zack McKeever.
It’s a bit confusing between Sargent and Del Norte on Saturday.  It’s the first of two meetings between the San Luis Valley rivals.  This one counts in the league standings and the second game later in the season will help determine district tournament seeding.  Either way, it’s a great matchup full of intensity.
Sargent has won five of six since dropping a 28-point decision to 3A Centauri and they’re beginning a difficult stretch.  They also line up against another local rival, 1A unbeaten Sangre De Cristo, on Thursday and then next week face Ignacio.  The Farmers may also play the stretch without leading scorer Hunter Younkerman (14.0) so Eddie Gonzalez (13.7) and Ryan Davis (8.1) may be asked to do more on the offensive end.
Defensively, it will be all on hands on deck against Del Norte sharp-shooter Carlos Parra.  The senior lefty is averaging a whopping 31 points per game.  Parra has been above 30 in four games this season including 47 against Las Animas in the season opener.  Maybe the top returning player in Class 2A, Parra also leads the team in rebounds (6.8) and steals (3.1).
Other offense comes from Izeah Peterson (12.8) and Kade Glover (6.3).  Glover also hands out six assists per game and both players have state tournament experience from a year ago.
The Highland-Longmont Christian contest set for Friday is one of three important games in the Mile High this week.  The first came on Tuesday as Heritage Christian edged Denver Christian 52-49.  The second is also Friday between Heritage Christian and Dawson.  Highland, Dawson, and Heritage Christian are tied with Twin Peaks Charter and Union Colony for the very early lead.
Longmont Christian fell out of first place with a 60-51 overtime loss to Union Colony Prep on Tuesday.  Dominic Puchino scored 16 points but that’s nearly eight points below his season average (23.6).  Michael Voigt (21.4) led the way with 23 but the rest of the managed just 12.
Highland is the defending league champion and picked up a second league win over Front Range Christian on Tuesday.  Their first victory came against Dayspring Christian last week (65-52).  The Huskies led 41-22 at intermission and were not threatened from then on.  Zeke Marsh had 15, Tate Bessire 13 and Koby Anderson 10.  Anderson also had nine rebounds.
Dawson has high scoring Gavyn Pure (21.8) back in the lineup with Jordy Grant-Krenz (12.2) serving as a very good second option.  Heritage Christian has four players averaging double figures; Josiah Bowser (15.7), Isaiah Bowser (4.8), Josh Samuelson (12.7) and Keaton Case (10.0).  They’ve won four in a row since a loss to Rocky Mountain Lutheran last month.
There were two more games of note played on Tuesday.  Byers started hot and scored a mild-upset on the road over #5 Simla (64-48).  21 first quarter points created a 10-point lead for the Bulldogs and the Cubs could not get closer the rest of the way.  Video highlights of the win are posted on our Facebook page.
Byers now preps for their Union Pacific league opener with Burlington (2-6).  That game will be played at the Pepsi Center.  Byers and Limon (7-1) are the only two league clubs above five hundred overall so their head-to-head meeting later this year could determine the championship.  Limon meets Flagler/Hi Plains in their first conference game on Friday as well.
Positioning behind prohibitive San Juan league favorite Ignacio was helped a bit as Dolores scored a 73-66 overtime win at Mancos.  Those two clubs should battle for the runner-up spot in the 2A race behind the Bobcats.  The Bears and Bluejays meet a second time on February 16th.
Ignacio lost but played two very important games for RPI standing last week as they fell to 3A Bayfield (70-64) and Montezuma Cortez (62-51).  They return to San Juan activity this weekend against Ridgway and Telluride.  Both games are at home and the Bobcats are heavily favored in both.  Remaining tests include road games at Sargent next Thursday and at Durango in early February.