Regardless of where you look across Class 2A girls’ basketball this week, there’s a game involving league leaders.  Several matchups on tap will impact league standings, RPI and post-season seeding quite a bit.  Topping that list are games between Vail Christian-Soroco, Simla-Calhan and Yuma-Holyoke.  In each case both teams are unbeaten in conference play.
We begin out west where Vail Christian and Soroco collide on Thursday in Oak Creek.  The Saints also visit Meeker on Saturday so it’s a very important week from them.  Vail Christian is 4-0 in conference with Soroco at 3-0.  Those two are tied with Hotchkiss (2-0) who has a short but difficult visit to Paonia on Thursday.
Vail Christian has won all four league contests by double digits and overall (10-0) they’ve already matched their win total from last season (10-10).  They fell to Soroco 60-51 last year.  Jesse Rait (18) led the Saints in scoring and returns to lead the team this year.
Soroco stayed perfect in the conference by beating Paonia (57-22) last week.  They led 15-1 in the first quarter and 31-6 at halftime as they ended years of frustration against the tradition-rich Eagles.  Mattie Rossi topped the Rams with 19 points while Kayla Willie and Charlee Veilleux each netted ten.  The Rams were 9-20 from beyond the arc with Rossi hitting three of five.  Overall, they shot 41 percent from the field (20-49).
With the loss, Paonia dropped into a fourth-place tie with Meeker and Rangely but all three clubs are just one game off the pace.  The Eagles have beaten Hotchkiss once this year, downing the Bulldogs 35-32 at the Delta tournament last month.  McKenna Palmer led the charge with nine points and Andi Todd added seven.  Hotchkiss picked up 11 from Elsie Vazquez and seven from Carson Collins.  The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle (30-26) but Paonia scored more at the foul line (11-6) despite making just 11 of 31 attempts.
Rangely stayed within range of the leaders by downing Meeker last week.  Katelyn Brown dropped in 21 for the Panthers.  Meeker did not get a player in scoring figures but rebounded nicely with a 65-39 decision over North Park.  They will be a tough out at home on Saturday.
The top four teams from the Lower Platte collide on Friday so it’s an important night as they start to determine the top spots in the conference.  Yuma is at Holyoke that night and Wray also ventures north to Haxtun.
Yuma has been ranked number one much of the season by CHSAA, but the Indians were also awarded the top spot in the rankings that counts the most; RPI.  Those figures were released for the first time earlier this week.
The Indians head to Holyoke in the first of at least three games that should determine the Lower Platte league championship.  Both teams also have conference games left with Wray and Haxtun, with the return of Dawson Knode, could still factor into the picture as well.  Again, it appears the Lower Platte might be the deepest 2A league this year.
Yuma has played just one game since December 15th, but it was a solid effort in beating Wiggins 61-21 last week.  Cody Robinson (17) and Chasey Blach (15) combined for 32 points while Kyle Rayl and Reagan Nolin each added eight.  The Indians collected 17 steals including a team best six from Blach.
Holyoke lost to Wray last Tuesday, but since that was a non-conference game the Dragons remain unbeaten in the league standings.  They bounced back to handle Sedgwick County 47-13 and Kiowa 40-19 last weekend.  Defensively, the Dragons have been solid as the loss to Wray is the only game they’ve allowed more than 34 points.
The Dragons though could have injury concerns as Emily Jelden went down last week.  We’re not sure how long the guard will be out, but she has provided Holyoke with three points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals per game.
Wray is coming off a 61-8 blowout of Sedgwick County last Friday.  They feature four key returnees from last year’s state runner-up team.  Inside the Eagles feature two players averaging nearly a double-double as Morgan Smith collects 14 points and 8 rebounds per game and Maddie Soehner is at 9 points and 9 boards an outing.  Peyton Pecar (13.1) is a second double-figure scorer and Paige Brown (7.1) is another option on that end.
As mentioned, the return of Knode to the Haxtun lineup should give them a chance at second consecutive state tournament appearance.  The returning all-stater has averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and three steals in the four games she’s appeared.  In her absence, Marissa Schelling blossomed into a major offensive threat and she will carry a 15 point per game average into the weekend.  She also pulls down over eight rebounds.
In last week’s conference win over Caliche (59-40), Schelling led the Bulldogs with 16, Knode had 14 and Molly Brown 10.  The trio hit 16 of 27 field goal attempts.
A fifth team to watch in the Lower Platte could be Merino.  The Rams have played a very good schedule, so they will be a tough out in every conference battle.  Losses have come again Simla, Limon, Haxtun, and Holyoke.  Losses to Haxtun and Holyoke were non-league games so they remain part of the first-place logjam at 1-0.  Lydia Stegner leads the Rams with 11.4 points per game.
Calhan (2-0) and Simla (1-0) have combined to win their first three conference games.  Of the two, Calhan has the most impressive league win as they edged Colorado Springs School 45-44 last week; handing the Kodiaks their first overall loss.  The Bulldogs rallied from 36-26 in the fourth by outscoring CSS 20-8 over the final eight minutes.
Simla’s conference win came easily over Peyton last month.  They’re coming off another solid as they topped Byers and Rye by a combined 49 points.  Balance has their strength the entire season.  Four players scored at least eight points against Byers and three reached that number or more against Rye.
Saturday’s clash with Calhan begins an important three game run for the Cubs.  They also meet Limon next Tuesday and then Ellicott next Friday.  Limon is also unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 in Class 2A while Ellicott opens the week with a piece of first place in the Black Forest at 1-0.  The Thunderhawks have a key date with Colorado Springs School on Friday.  Because of last week’s loss, CSS likely needs a road win there to stay in the league title discussion.
Swink remains heavily favored to land another Santa Fe championship but the race for second behind the Lions could be a good one.  Rocky Ford (5-1) and Fowler (4-1) currently share that spot and they square off on Saturday.  Both teams suffered their league loss to Swink so only the winner likely stays in the championship mix.
Fowler has won four in a row since falling to Swink (50-33).  Elizabeth Hagerman (11.5) gets most her points on the inside and Lexi Van Sickle (11.5) is the outside threat.  Hagerman also leads the Grizzlies in rebounds (9.2) and Van Sickle in assists (4.4).  Jacquelin Alvey (6.4) is a third scorer.
Rocky Ford dropped a 43-24 decision to Swink earlier this year.  Four of their league wins have come by double digits.   Abby Snyder (12.7) is the Meloneers top scorer and has been unled to single digits only once this year.  She totaled just seven in the loss to Swink.
Swink will face both teams again in the second half of the conference schedule but they can finish off the first run-through at 7-0 if they get by Crowley County on the road Saturday.  The rematch with Fowler is set for January 26th and Rocky Ford is on February 3rd.
A similar situation can be found in the Southern Peaks where Sargent goes to Sanford this Saturday.  Del Norte is the projected league champion there, but these teams could easily finish second and third.  Sanford (6-3) is led by talented senior point guard Taylor Larsen (10.4).  Nykia Ruvolo does most of her work on the inside and averages nearly 10 points and seven rebounds a game.
Sargent looks to snap a two-game skid following losses to Del Norte (57-37) and Sangre De Cristo (54-20) last week.  Before focusing on Sanford, the Farmers host top 10 rival Ignacio on Thursday.  Lainie Dillon (11.2), McKinzie Tolliver (8.0) and Allison Harrison (7.2) top the scoring list for Sargent.
Del Norte is favored in two games this week.  The Tigers host Center on Friday and then go to Custer County on Saturday.
Ignacio (8-0) is unbeaten for the season and should cruise into the regional tournament next month.  But that’s where concern may be with the Bobcats.  In the first RPI standings issued this week, they were not included among the top 32 teams and that will hurt their placement in the regional tournament and state bracket should they qualify.  A weak league schedule hurts their overall power ranking but the game with Sargent and another with Durango later this season should help them.
Avionne Gomez (16.8) and Morgan Herrera (15.2) provide a solid one-two scoring punch.  Gomez is also strong defensively as she averages over four steals per game.  Herrera grabs eight rebounds a night.
Dolores could easily finish second behind Ignacio in the San Juan.  They sit at 4-1 in the conference with the lone loss coming to the Bobcats (43-25) last month.  Tatum Majors is their leader and scored 33 points in a win over Norwood last week.  She missed the school record by just three points.
Burlington (2-0) picked up an important Union Pacific league win over Byers (53-23) last week.  The decision probably locks up no worse than a top-two finish for the Cougars.  They visit Yuma in an attractive non-league game this Saturday but a more important date for the Cougars is February 3rd.  That’s when they tangle with unbeaten Limon.
The Badgers (8-0) are ninth in the first RPI standings.  And like Ignacio, the schedule hurts them a bit as they will face several 1A schools along the way.  Tougher games are on the immediate docket as they meet Simla and Peyton next week.  Up first is a Saturday date with Akron.
Limon scored their first conference win last week; beating Flagler/Hi Plains 57-39.  Brooke Smith had 16 points, Jenna Jaklich, Toni Lopez and Sidney Hines each finished with eight.
Dayspring Christian scored an important Mile High league win on Tuesday; beating Denver Christian 44-33.  The win keeps the Eagles just one game back of co-leaders Heritage Christian (1A) and Highland near the top of the standings.  Denver Christian, which entered the 2A rankings this week, dropped to 2-2 in conference play.
The Eagles have two more games on the schedule this week including a league game with Twin Peaks Charter on Thursday.  They also go to Merino on Saturday.  Heritage Christian is on the schedule for next Tuesday.
Highland, which has a 65-52 win over Dayspring Christian already, is away from the conference fray this week but they visit Akron Friday night.  The Huskies don’t square off with Heritage Christian until February 10th.