The second half of the 2A boys’ basketball season is just getting underway but a likely conference championship will be decided on Saturday. That’s when Holly and Fowler collide inside the Santa Fe conference. They finished 1-2 in the standings a year ago and based on early season play, the result could be the same this year with the order determined in their only regular season clash.
Holly is the defending league champ as they beat Fowler 54-40 a year ago and repeated the win in the district tournament finals. Fowler exacted a bit of revenge as they edged the Wildcats 54-45 for third place at the state tournament.
The Grizzlies though return much more talent from that contest. They get back 37 points from that contest as Jonathon Mobbley scored 17, Val Leone 13 and Gabe Proctor seven. Those three are the top scorers with Leone at 19.1, Proctor 13.9 and Mobbley 12.1. Mobbley also pulls down 11 rebounds a game.
By contract, Holly had 33 of their 45 points scored by seniors. Brigden Parker, with 12 points, is the only player back who scored in the state tournament matchup. The Wildcats are also much different this year as they’re not nearly as tall but still play tremendous and aggressive defense.
Fowler is 5-2 with losses to Limon and Centauri. They did score a very good win over 3A Colorado Springs Christian in late December. Holly is 6-1 with a lone loss to Kit Carson in the Lamar Holiday Tournament championship game. It was the first time in six years that Holly did not grab that title. They’re already 3-0 in the Santa Fe with dominating wins by Swallows Charter, Rocky Ford and Swink with each coming by at least 25 points.
A pair of teams hoping to push for their respective league championship get together on Friday as Center (4-1) makes the long trek down to Mancos (4-2). Center hopes to break through against the likes of Sanford and Del Norte in the Southern Peaks while Mancos and Ignacio will likely battle again for the San Juan crown.
Mancos has played the stronger schedule with games against 3A opponents Aspen and Montezuma Cortez and 4A rivals Durango and Rifle. They lost to Durango (61-58) but beat Montezuma Cortez (61-60) close 2019. Anthony Medina led the way against Cortez. His 18 points paced four players in double figures.
Overall, the Bluejays get most of their offense from Caden Showalter (16.0), Connor Showalter (14.2) and Evan Sehnert (9.8). Caden ads 8.8 rebounds, Connor 2.7 assists and Sehnert three boards a game.
Center is much smaller than Mancos so the Vikings will rely on outside shooting and a quick defense. Devin Porres (17.2) and Habran DeLaCruz (13.2) are a very good 1-2 punch and together they have 23 of the Vikings 37 three-pointers. Porres leads the team with 8.4 rebounds and DeLaCruz is tops with 3.4 steals.
The Vikings have won three straight since their lone loss to 1A #3 Sangre De Cristo (59-47). Top wins include John Mall and Rocky Ford.
The key point when Denver Christian (3-2) heads to Limon (4-1) may be how well the Badgers defend Ben Buhler. The sophomore leads Denver Christian with 19 points a game but is averaging just 12 points in their two losses compared to 24 in the three wins. Buhler’s season high of 30 came against Peak to Peak.
Buhler has help on both ends. Ethan Liebert is next in scoring with 10.8 points per game and Henry Vandenburg is third with 8.4. Vandenburg, with nine per game, also tops the team in rebounds including double-doubles in his last two contests.
Limon counters with guard tandem of Kory Tacha and Camden Smithburg. They helped trigger the December win over Fowler where they jumped to a 38-26 lead at halftime. The Badgers also feature good depth as five players average at least five rebounds per game.
Heritage Christian (5-1) and Dawson (6-2) both have Mile High league assignments with 1A #9 Longmont Christian this week. The Mustangs went first on Wednesday with the Eagles to follow on Friday.
Dawson used 30 points from Coby Grant-Krenz to score a 76-66 win in handing Longmont Christian their first loss of the season. Grant-Kerz used that effort to boost his season scoring average to 22.4 per game. Riley Burridge (15) and Phil Geraghty (12) also reached double figures in the win. The Mustangs hit ten three-pointers as well including three apiece from Burridge and Max Morrow.
Next up, the Mustangs host Gilpin County on Friday as they continue early work in the Mile High schedule.
For Heritage Christian, their game marks a chance to knock off two 1A ranked teams during the week. They opened this stretch by downing #8 Flatirons Academy on Tuesday. The final was 62-59 but the game was not that close as the Eagles led 50-35 after three quarters.
Wednesday was Longmont Christian’s (3-1) first real test of the season as they had won their first three games by at least 20 points apiece. Ryan Shellenberger led the Warriors with 20 points and now averages nearly 17 per contest.
Sedgwick County (5-0), Sanford (3-3) and Peyton (3-2) all face solid tests against teams from other divisions. The Cougars battle Fleming (4-2), Sanford takes on Pagosa Springs (5-3) and Peyton meets Genoa Hugo (4-1).
With such name recognition, solid tradition and an unbeaten record, it’s surprising that Sedgwick County has yet to crack the top 10. The reason may be that three of their wins are against teams from Nebraska. In-state they’ve taken out Haxtun (66-28) and Holyoke (47-40 in OT). Before hosting Fleming on Saturday, the Cougars meet Haxtun for a second time with this one counting in the Lower Platte league standings. Fleming has played and beaten Haxtun by just two points so Sedgwick County is favored to get two wins this week.
Sanford opened January with a 47-34 loss to Centauri as they continue an early season schedule completely filled with 3A opponents. Their tough schedule has them 13th in RPI standings despite a five hundred record. Pagosa Springs will be a tough out as they’re coming off a solid win over Colorado Springs Christian. Four players reached double figures but leading scorer Mason Snarr was not among them as he was out with injury. Mitch Lewis topped the scoresheet with 16.
Peyton was blown out by Highland (60-35) to start December and Vanguard (64-29) to close the month. In between, the Panthers picked up wins over Edison, Dayspring Christian and Cripple Creek. They get Genoa Hugo the night after the Pirates battle Limon for a possible Union Pacific crown. The Panthers score just 32 points a game with AJ Lashley (8.5) the top individual.
Around the top 10, #1 Yuma has a Lower Platte league opener at Akron on Friday. They’ve won three straight and the Indians will have to avoid looking down the road to next week’s matchup with #10 Wray. The Eagles take a three game winning streak into this week where they will face two solid opponents from Nebraska; Chase County on Thursday and Dundy County on Saturday. Pace is important to Wray as they’ve scored at least 71 in three wins and 40 and 57 in those two wins.
#2 Highland has a swing through Southeast Colorado with games against Custer County on Friday and Hoehne on Saturday. They’ve scored at least 77 points in their last five games and should be able to keep that string intact this week. They’re also prepping to defend their Mile High title and that defense begins next week with Union Colony Prep.
#5 Ignacio has a good schedule this week as they face both Bayfield (Friday) and Montezuma Cortez (Saturday) as part of the annual Southwest Classic. Each game will boost their RPI number and help them come post-season time. Brady McCaw (12.4) and Bryce Finn (11.0) both average double figures in the Bobcats balanced attack. Ocean Hunter and Triston Thompson each score nine a game and three of the top four scorers also pick off at least six rebounds a night.
#6 Vail Christian is also in for a quality week as they meet 3A Coal Ridge on Thursday and then start the 12-game Western Slope schedule Saturday against Plateau Valley. It’s likely the Saints will battle 1A #1 DeBeque for the conference crown as the teams are a combined 6-0. The rest of the league is only 25-39. We preview the Saints matchup in our weekly 3A report.