Holyoke, Haxtun and Merino may play a role, but odds favor the winner of the Yuma-Wray clash on Saturday will land the Lower Platte league championship.  It’s the second of possibly four meetings between the two county rivals this year.  Yuma won the first matchup in December but the Eagles are at home for the rematch.  They could also collide in the district and state tournaments.
Each club features a veteran lineup with players who have competed at the state tournament.  Wray is the returning state runner-up and seeks a third consecutive trip to the tournament.  Yuma was eliminated in the semifinals last year; the first time in five years the Indians did not play in the title game.  They won the 2A crown two years ago.
Chasey Blach (15.8) and Cody Robinson (15.6) continue to provide 31 points a game for the unbeaten Indians.  Blach also tops the team with nearly 14 rebounds per game.  More offense is provided by Avery Whitehead (7.6), Kyle Rayl (6.4) and Reagan Nolin (5.5).  Nolin and Whitehead pace the Indians with nine three-pointers on the season and Robinson has hit seven.
Morgan Smith (13.5/8.1) and Maddie Soehner (7.7/8.4) provide a very good inside presence for the Eagles as they combine for 21 points and over 16 rebounds per game.  Peyton Pecar (13.1) and Paige Brown (7.9) handle a good share of the perimeter duties while providing five steals and five assists each time out.  Virginia Deam Nein also scores five points per game.
Yuma used a quick start win the first game 52-42.  The Indians led 15-7 after one quarter and extended the margin to 30-15.  Blach arguably had the best game of her career with 21 points and 24 rebounds including 14 on the offensive end.  Robinson added 15 points and five assists.
With their 15-9 run in the third quarter, Wray closed the gap in the first meeting but could not finish the rally.  Smith dropped in 14 points and Pecar 13 to pace the offense.  Pecar also went 3-5 from the three-point line where the Eagles outscored Yuma 9-0.  Deam Nein collected a team best six rebounds with Smith and Soehner four apiece.
Under the radar in the Lower Platte is a Friday contest between Merino and Holyoke.  Both clubs have losses to league opponents but they were non-league matchups.  As a result, the winner between the Rams and Dragons will be tied with the Yuma-Wray winner atop the standings.
The two rivals met in mid-December with Holyoke earning a 38-19 decision.  Grace Dille (12) and Taeryn Trumper (11) were scoring leaders for Holyoke.  Lydia Stegner netted nine to lead the Rams.
Del Norte and Sanford continue their long-standing rivalry in the Southern Peaks on Saturday and first place in the conference will go to the winner.  The Tigers (9-3) have two more wins than the Indians (7-4) and go in as the favorite.  They’ve won six straight since a hard fought three-point loss to Swink in the La Junta Tournament.
Kendra Parra (19.3) leads the Tigers in scoring but continues to be one of the best all-around players in Colorado.  In addition to her almost 20 points per game, the sophomore also collects four rebounds, assists and steals per game.  Another key contributor is Lacie Jones who provides an inside threat with nine points and ten rebounds a night.
Sanford is 4-1 since Christmas with a lone 46-26 loss to Pagosa Springs in that stretch.  They also host Custer County on Friday and will be favored to get the win before turning their attention to the Tigers.  Taylor Larsen (10.6) is the leading scorer in a balanced Indians attack.  She’s been in double figures in seven games this year including a season high 16 against Crested Butte.
Swink puts their 35-game conference winning streak on the line at Fowler on Friday.  The Lions have not lost since falling to Rye on December 19th, 2015.  Coach Curt Lewis’ club enters the game alone in first in the Santa Fe and one game ahead of Rocky Ford.  Fowler is in third place two games off the pace and need the upset to stay alive for the league crown.
It’s the second meeting of the season between the clubs with the Lions grabbing a 50-33 decision in December.  The Lions led 30-11 at halftime and received strong offensive nights from Brianna Denton (24) and Courtney Estrada (17) who combined for 41 points.  Those two combined to hit 17 of 31 field goal attempts.  Overall, the Lions outrebounded the Grizzlies 25-17 and forced 20 turnovers.  Lexi Van Sickle scored 10 to pace Fowler while Elizabeth Hagerman and Tressa Reed added six apiece.
Simla is coming off a solid non-conference win over Limon (50-40) on Tuesday night and the Cubs look for a second quality win on the week at home against Ellicott on Friday.  Both clubs are unbeaten and tied for first in the Black Forest but Friday’s outcome will not count to the league standings. Their conference game is on February 16th.
The Cubs (9-1) have a deep roster and share the ball very well.  Jerraldawn Rector (11.0) is the leading scorer but many other teammates can also put points on the board.  Chloe Duffy (8.5), Kegan Hamacher (7.8), Kaitlyn Rector (7.6) and Hanna Kerst (6.8) combine for 30 points each time out.
Ellicott (10-2) is unbeaten against 2A clubs with both losses coming to 3A opponents Manitou Springs and Florence.  Graciela Donez (12.4) and Devinne Larreau (10.6) both average double figures and each pull down eight rebounds a game.  Samantha Chambers (9.3) is also approaching double digits on the offensive end.
Limon looks for a return to their winning ways at Peyton on Thursday.  The Badgers played without leading scorer Anna Weisensee (11.3) who missed the game with injury.
The Badgers (2-0) continue to lead the Union Pacific by one game over Burlington and Flagler/Hi Plains.  The two second place clubs square off on Friday in the most important league game of the week.
Both teams have already beaten fourth place Byers so the winner should lock up a top two league finish.  But there are different momentum levels for both clubs.  Burlington has lost two straight since the Byers win as they fell to Genoa Hugo (31-30) and Yuma (60-34) last week.  Flagler/Hi Plains has won their last two including a 43-37 decision over Byers.  Erin Marzolf (16) and Abi Pond (12) led the Thunder in that win.
Highland used a 38-22 win over Dawson on Tuesday to keep pace with Denver Christian atop the Mile High.  The Huskies are 5-0 in league play and the Thunder are 6-0 after beating Longmont Christian 60-46 earlier this week.  The two leaders meet up on February 13th.
The Huskies return to the court on Friday at Gilpin County.  Their win on Tuesday was their ninth straight.  Denver Christian carries a six-game winning streak into their Thursday contest at Lyons.  Kara Amidon scored 15 and Miranda Kortenhoeven 10 in the win over Longmont Christian.
Four teams are within one game of the Western Slope lead so the race there should go down to the last week.  Meeker, Paonia, and Rangely have one league loss apiece and share second place but all three are looking up at unbeaten Soroco (6-0) in the standings.
The league leaders look to keep sole possession of first place by beating Hotchkiss on Saturday.  It’s their only game of the week.  Another key contest has Paonia on the road to Vail Christian.  The Saints shared the league last week but fell two games off the pace with losses to Soroco and Meeker.
Soroco has not lost since December 9th when they fell to 4A Montrose 50-30.  They’ve won seven in a row and all have come by at least 12 points.  Three-point shooting continues to be a strong point for the Rams as they’ve hit 70 on the season.  Chloe Veilleux leads the list with 25 and Kayla Willie has 17.  Charlee Veilleux is third with 13 and five others have knocked in a long-distance shot.
Hotchkiss has dropped two in a row including a 55-39 decision at Paonia last week.  They look to end the skid at home against Hayden on Friday before making the trip to Oak Creek.  Carson Collins (11.3), Elsie Vazquez (8.2), Shay Glaser (8.1) and Kaiya Firor (7.4) provide most of the offensive production for the Bulldogs.
Paonia raced to a 15-4 first quarter and 36-16 advantage on Hotchkiss on their way to the victory last week.  Kassidy Rapke led the charge with 18 points and McKenna Palmer added 10.  The Eagles shot 54 percent from the field (19-35) and had a ten-point advantage at the foul line (16-6).
Trips to Soroco and Meeker were only the third and fourth road trips of the season for Vail Christian and the results were not kind to the Saints.  Unbeaten overall going in, they fell to Soroco (55-41) and Meeker (62-41).  They return home and hope for a better performance against Paonia.  The Saints still have games remaining with Rangely and Hotchkiss on the schedule so they still have time to make up ground lost last week.
We got a chance to see Ignacio in person last week and the Bobcats are much better than their 29th ranking in the RPI.  Their opponents have a winning percentage of just .290 and that number keeps the Bobcats down the list.
The Bobcats were without two starters last week but still moved past a good Sargent club 58-39.  Avionne Gomez netted four three-pointers on her way to a game high 24 points.  Morgan Herrera powered her way inside for 13 points and nine rebounds.  Those two will give the Bobcats an excellent chance at reaching the state tournament.
Up next, they host Nucla and should easily get by the Mustangs.  Remaining challenges on the Bobcats schedule are non-conference dates with Durango (4A) on February 6th and Pagosa Springs (3A) on the 13th.  Those games will also boost their overall RPI regardless of outcome.