With five teams still unbeaten in the Western Slope conference, the early standings are still bunched at the top.  But with some of the top clubs facing strong challenges this week, some thinning of the herd could occur.  And that’s where we begin our Class 2A girls’ basketball weekly report.
Paonia, Hotchkiss, Meeker, Soroco and Vail Christian all go to the weekend with identical 2-0 marks.  On Thursday, Meeker faces local rival Rangely and then hosts a one-loss North Park club on Friday.  Also on Friday, Paonia heads to Soroco.
Meeker stretched their winning streak to four by bouncing West Grand (51-25) and Hayden (48-28) last week.  They now sit at 5-3.  Victoria Lasker led the Cowgirls against West Grand as she finished with 12 and Gracie Bradfield added 11.  Megan Shelton finished with nine points and 14 rebounds.  Julia Dinwiddie also pulled down 12 rebounds and Lasker 10 as Meeker won the battle on the boards 51-26.
Against Hayden, Shelton put together a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.  She also recorded six steals.  Lasker was next with 11 points while Kenzie Turner provided 10 rebounds and five steals.
Rangely topped Hayden 47-22 last week but their 51-39 loss to Soroco dropped them out of the first-place logjam.  Katelyn Brown (19.5) and Kassidee Brown (10.6) combine for 30 points a game on average but they were held to just 21 in the loss.
North Park dropped their league opener to Vail Christian (52-41) last week and it also marked their first overall loss of the season.  The key for the Wildcats is to stay ahead of DeBeque in the league race and RPI to get a better seed in the 1A district tournament.  They also have a win over the Dragons (59-44) before Christmas which will help their case.
Paonia and Soroco played a very good conference game last year as the eventual state champion Eagles held on for a 64-57 win.  The Rams though return more offensive firepower from that game as Chloe Veilleux (10), Charlee Veilleux (7) and Kayla Wille (7) totaled 24 points and all return to the lineup this season.  Paonia returns just four points from that contest.  McKenna Palmer scored those points and leads the Eagles with 11.4 per game this year.
Paonia (6-2) beat Plateau Valley (47-23) and Caprock Academy (61-8) last week and has won three straight overall.  Soroco topped Rangely and DeBeque (56-29) last week and they’ll also carry a three-game winning streak into the contest.
A non-conference game of note involving the league has Rangely at home against Cedaredge on Friday.  The visiting Bruins are unbeaten and ranked fifth in Class 3A, so they will be another strong test and RPI booster for the Panthers.
First place in the Santa Fe conference is up for grabs when Rocky Ford visits #2 Swink on Friday.  Both teams are 4-0 in league play with a one game edge on Fowler and Las Animas.  The third-place teams also collide on Friday and Swink meets Las Animas on Saturday, so the standings could change dramatically by Saturday night.
Swink has won 33 of their last 34 conference games with their only loss in that stretch to Rye on December 16th, 2016.  They’ve dominated four league foes already beating Fowler (17), Hoehne (34), John Mall (45) and Swallows Charter (46) by a combined 142 points.
The Lions remain young as the top five scorers are juniors but all five have contributed heavily since they reached high school.  Courtney Estrada (14.3) and Brianna Denton (14.3) share scoring honors and together pull down nearly 10 rebounds a game.  Kyla O’Neal is the point guard and averages eight points, eight rebounds and four assists per game.  Tierra Holland is another contributor with nearly eight points and five rebounds.
Much improved this year, Rocky Ford did not suffer their first loss until last week against 1A power Sangre De Cristo.  They bounced back by beating Crowley County 33-22 the next night.  It was their second win over the Chargers and they’ve also topped Las Animas and John Mall.
Freshman point guard Abby Snyder is very involved on the offensive end.  The first-year standout averages nearly 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals per game.  Inside production comes from Eli Romero with nine points and seven boards a night.
The outcome between Byers and Burlington on Friday should determine the top challenger to #4 Limon in the Union Pacific.  The three teams are a combined 4-0 in conference play and share the top spot early on.
Byers enters the game off a loss (61-38) to very talented and #5 Simla on Tuesday.  Largent Kenzy knocked down three treys and led the Bulldogs with 18 points.  She’s also the scoring leader on the season (12.1).  Devon Harris another key offensively with eight points and eight rebounds per game.
Burlington played well in a 35-28 loss to #3 Holyoke last week.  They’ve played a good schedule with losses to ranked opponents Yuma, Wray, and Lamar so their record (4-4) could be considered misleading.  Caprise Cominiello (9.3) is the leading scorer followed by Megan Burghart (9.0) and Alex Bauer (7.7).  Cominiello and Bauer also combine for 13 rebounds.
Limon should get to 8-0 against Flagler/Hi Plains on Friday.  The Badgers face Burlington on February 3rd and February 9th.  An earlier non-league challenge comes at Simla on January 23rd.
Record wise, the best league game in the Lower Platte is Friday between top ranked Yuma (7-0) and Wiggins (7-2).  The Tigers are vastly improved from previous years but will have to step up their level to stay with the tradition-rich Indians.  Pace will be very important.  Yuma pushes the tempo and averages nearly 59 points per game.  Wiggins sits at 39 points.
Chasey Blach (16.7), Cody Robinson (13.7) and Avery Whitehead (9.4) head up the Yuma offense.  This will be their first conference game and first contest since beating Wray (52-42) on December 15th.  Wiggins opened league action by edging Sedgwick County 36-32 last week behind 14 points from Courtney Jenson and eight from Claire Boyer.
Earlier this week, #6 Wray picked up a non-league win in overtime (61-53) over #3 Holyoke.  The Eagles placed three in double figures as Peyton Pecar (18), Morgan Smith (16) and Maddie Soehner (10) combined for 44 points.  Paige Brown added nine.  Taeryn Trumper dropped in 22 and Grace Dille 17 to lead the Dragons who suffered their first loss.  Holyoke won the rebound battle 40-31 but committed two more turnovers overall (14-12).
The two clubs play again in the final game of the season (February 16th).  If the season and league schedule play out as expected, that game will greatly impact Lower Platte standings, district tournament seeding and overall post-season bracketing.
Colorado Springs School and Calhan have quietly combined to win 12 of 13 games this year and they meet in Calhan on Friday.  That winner could become the best challenger to Simla for the Black Forest championship.  Ellicott, which lost to 3A Manitou Springs earlier this week, entered the 2A top 10 this week and could also challenge.
Calhan (5-1) suffered their lone loss to Burlington (66-61) but also picked up a good win over Fowler (50-44) in December.  Bailee Carter was limited to eight points in the Fowler win but leads the team in scoring overall (13.0) and rebounds (8.8).  Brittany Fuchs (13.0) is a second double-figure scorer.
Friday marks the first game action since Christmas for CSS.  They’ve not played a strong schedule, but the Kodiaks did beat Peyton (54-48) in a non-league game last month.  Ali Graham (13.7), Natalie Richardi (12.6) and Whitney Richardi (10.9) are all returning starters.  They combined for 45 points against Peyton.
Simla moved to 6-0 with the Tuesday win over Byers.  They should get wins number seven and eight over Rye and Dolores Huerta this weekend.  Sisters Jerraldawn (11) and Kaitlyn Rector (10) led the Cubs on Tuesday.  Kegan Hamacher added nine and Emmie Sellers eight.  The Cubs were also a perfect 10-10 from the foul line as a team.
#8 Ignacio (6-0) should cruise to the San Juan championship.  The rest of the conference entered the week with a combined record of 7-40.  The Bobcats three remaining tests of the season all occur outside the conference against Sargent next Tuesday, Durango on February 6th and Pagosa Springs on February 13th.  Through six games, the Bobcats have outscored opponents 355-119.
Del Norte is ranked seventh but could face a league challenge from Sargent (4-2) on Saturday.  The Farmers have won three straight but must first focus on unbeaten Sangre De Cristo (1A) on Thursday before turning attention to the Tigers.  Lainie Dillon (11.2) paces Sargent offensively while freshman McKinzie Tolliver chips in eight points and five rebounds.  Alexia Aguilera leads the Farmers with over eight rebounds each night.
Del Norte has three losses but two are against 3A #1 Centauri and the third is to #2 Swink (40-37).  Kendra Parra directs the attack and leads the Tigers in scoring (19.3), assists (3.8) and steals (3.8).  Lacie Jones, with nine points and 10 rebounds a game, is the main inside threat.
Early shuffling continues in the Mile-High conference as Highland (2-0), Denver Christian (2-0), Lyons (1-0) and Twin Peaks (1-0) all sit atop the standings.  Three other teams, Gilpin County, Heritage Christian, and Longmont Christian are a game back at 1-1.  Top games still on tap this week include Denver Christian at Twin Peaks, Heritage Christian at Dawson, and Longmont Christian at Highland.  Lyons topped Gilpin County 31-9 on Tuesday and will host Union Colony on Thursday.