The final 10 days of the 2A boys’ basketball season includes several important games that will determine league championships and many of those are on tap this weekend. Highland and Denver Christian meet for the Mile High title and the Limon-Byers contest should determine the top spot in the Union Pacific. Other games of note include Peyton at Dolores Huerta and Vail Christian at Paonia.
The Highland-Denver Christian game lost a bit of luster when the Thunder were upset by Dayspring Christian last week but the game will still determine the top two spots in the league chase. Highland is unbeaten in league play with Denver Christian one game back. Highland clinches the league crown with a win but Denver Christian is the top conference team with a victory. Even with a loss, the Thunder will stay in second place as they lead Heritage Christian, Clear Creek and Dayspring Christian by two games. The third-place tie will be loosened a bit on Friday as well as Clear Creek meets Heritage Christian. Dayspring is at Lyons on Friday and then hosts Gilpin County on Saturday.
Friday’s outcome does not factor into district pairings as Denver Christian moves to District 4 for the post-season. They will compete with Byers and Limon there but should be the number one seed based on regular season wins over both.
Pace is always the biggest concern for Highland opponents. The Huskies average 83 points a game for the season and has boosted that to 87 in nine league wins. Denver Christian scores 51 points per game overall but has over 250 points less in league play than the Huskies. The Thunder has scored more than 65 points only once and that came in late January over Denver Academy (81-26).
Denver Christian opened 0-3 but has won 12 of their last 13. They’re coming off a quality 50-35 win over Byers last week. Jeff Amidon topped the scoring list with 10 points and is second on the team through the season (10.6). Eu Asefaw (11.9) is the leading scorer but has totaled just 20 points over his last three games.
Highland’s narrowest margin in league play is 29 points as they beat Dayspring Christian 79-50 and Clear Creek 96-67. They’ve scored at least 79 points in every contest and reached the 100-point mark against Twin Peaks Charter.
Tate Bessire has boosted his scoring average to 20.3 per game and has scored at least 20 points in five straight games. Koby Anderson is second in scoring (14.9) and first in rebounds (9.5). Jace Bessire (12.4) and Holden Morgan (11.3) also score in double figures and Logan Stewart (7.6) is a very effective fifth scorer. The Huskies have knocked in 115 three-pointers on the season including 38 from Tate Bessire and 30 from Stewart. Jace Bessire has 23.
Byers and Limon have both struggled of late but their game on Friday will decide the Union Pacific champion. It could also be a preview of a district semifinal as we feel they will earn the second and third seed in the bracket. And the outcome from Friday could also determine that order. Denver Christian, as mentioned, is the likely number one seed based on head-to-head results but Limon is the highest rated team in the RPI (5th). Denver Christian is 7th and Byers 9th.
Byers lost both ends of a difficult back-to-back in road games at Yuma and Denver Christian over the weekend but ended the short slide with a 53-32 win over Deer Trail. The win kept them unbeaten in Union Pacific play and alone atop the standings. Limon is one game back due to last Saturday’s home loss to Burlington (59-55) but the Badgers gained some positive thoughts in their 67-51 win over Simla on Tuesday.
Maybe the biggest issue for Limon on Friday is dealing with the size of Byers. The Bulldogs of course feature 6-9 senior Hayden McCuen who leads the Bulldogs in points (13.6) and rebounds (8.0). Zane Mikita (11.8) is an effective wing and the backcourt duo of Brady Shelley (13.5) and Rhett Davis (5.7) combine for nearly 19 points a game but also cause chaos on the defensive end.
Limon is also very talented in the backcourt with the likes of Kory Tacha, Camden Smithburg and Braden Sandersfeld. On the inside, the Badgers will look to Logan Marx and Javier Zamora among others to help limit McCuen’s opportunities.
Peyton has lost two of three games overall but their win over Simla last week gave them control of the Black Forest chase. A win over Dolores Huerta on Friday gives the Panthers the championship and the top district seed. Dolores Huerta though has plenty of play for as well. They have an early league loss to Simla but are tied with the Cubs just one game back. A Scorpions win creates a three-way tie heading into the final week of play.
Rod Gregg (20) and Gavin Miller (11) combined for 31 points in the win over Simla. The Panthers gained the win despite hitting just one of nine three-point shots and they were outrebounded by the Cubs 37-31. Defensively, they limited Simla to just 32 percent from the field overall with just four three-pointers in 21 attempts.
Dolores Huerta fell by 14 to Simla (61-47) but has won their last three conference games to remain in contention. They survived Thomas MacLaren last week (76-69) getting 25 points from Angel Salina, 19 from Charles Winston and 18 from Xavier Gomez.
Simla has two conference games remaining and both are next week against Miami Yoder and Colorado Springs School. Up this week are two home games with Burlington and Rye on Friday and Saturday.
Vail Christian sits second to 1A DeBeque in the overall Western Slope league race but the Saints can clinch the top seed for the 2A district tournament with two wins this week. They visit Paonia on Friday and then host North Park on Saturday. They can also clinch with a win and loss by Soroco.
Paonia, Plateau Valley and Soroco share the number two district seed as they go the weekend with three league losses apiece. Another key game on tap has Plateau Valley and Soroco meeting on Friday in Collbran. Soroco also has a tough test with Meeker on Thursday.
If Paonia upsets Vail Christian this weekend, that opens up several scenarios for spots one through four in the district tournament. Soroco could then jump to the championship by winning out as they would have tiebreakers over Paonia, Plateau Valley and Vail Christian based on head-to-head wins. They topped Paonia last week and have games left with both Plateau Valley and Vail Christian.
Yuma kept the lead in the Lower Platte by beating Sedgwick County on Tuesday. The decision also left Akron alone in second place. The Rams have already lost to Yuma so second is probably their best option but they have a tough road to stay there. They go to Holyoke on Thursday and then host Sedgwick County on Friday before closing with Wray in the final week. Yuma is favored against Caliche on Thursday and will be against Holyoke and Haxtun next week as well.
In the Santa Fe, Holly and Rocky Ford have locked down the top two spots in the Eastern division and Fowler has clinched the Western division championship. The most exciting race left among the top four district tournament seeds is the battle for second behind Fowler. Swallows Charter, Hoehne and Crowley County all have five losses and share the position as we enter the final ten days.
At least one team will drop off the pace when Swallows Charter meets John Mall. That winner could sit alone in second place because Hoehne also has a game with Fowler on Thursday. The Farmers and John Mall also meet up next week so several scenarios can play out.
It’s always difficult to figure out the league standings in the San Juan because teams often play each other twice. We can tell you that the top three spots should go to Sanford, Sargent and Del Norte as those three have not dropped a game to other league foes. The three rivals also battle over the last two weekends and results from the three games should determine the order for league standings and district seeding. First up is a game between Del Norte and Sargent on Friday. The other two matchups are set for next weekend.
Mancos (7-1) and Ouray (6-1) continue to share the San Juan lead. The Bluejays also lead Ignacio (6-2) by one game and Telluride (6-3) by two games in the race for top district seed in Class 2A.
Mancos stayed in the top district spot by beating Dolores (62-35) earlier this week and should stay there as they line up against Nucla on Thursday. More important games are set for next week as they face Ignacio, Telluride and Ouray over a span of five days. Ignacio also has a game with Ouray on Saturday and a loss gives Mancos a nice two-game cushion for the top seed in the district bracket entering that difficult stretch.
Telluride has two home games this weekend against Ridgway (Friday) and Dolores (Saturday). The Miners close against Norwood on the 12th and Mancos on the 15th.