The field of 32 teams still battling for the 2A girls’ state championship will be trimmed to just eight with regional tournament play this weekend. Potential first round upsets may be hard to find on Friday but Saturday could see tremendous matchups between clubs with the talent to be Final Four clubs.
REGION ONE – Yuma High School
5:30pm: #1 Yuma (22-0) vs #32 Las Animas (9-13)
2:30pm: #16 Haxtun (14-6) vs #17 Ellicott (17-5)
It’s no surprise that Yuma is the top overall seed in the regional tournament as virtually every coach we ask says the Indians are the team to beat. And the pedigree is there for another serious run at a championship. The Indians won the championship two years ago finishing a stretch of four consecutive finals appearance. A fifth straight trip ended with a two-point loss to Wray in the semifinals last season but they beat Del Norte the next day to grab the third-place trophy.
This year the Indians have been dominant again falling just 20 points short of doubling the point total of their opponents (1,260-640). Their resume includes an early quality win over Highland and two victories over both Holyoke and Haxtun and three against county rival Wray.
Offensively, the Indians often turn to the tandem of Cody Robinson (14.7) and Chasey Blach (14.5) to score the majority of points but teammates Avery Whitehead (8.2), Kyle Rayl (8.2) and Reagan Nolin (5.5) have also hit big shots during the season. They share the ball well with 286 assists overall and also take it away defensively at a high rate compiling 281 steals.
Should Haxtun get by Ellicott on Friday, they will get their third shot at the Indians since February 9th. They lost to Yuma 56-30 in conference play that night and again (43-25) in the district semifinals. The Indians finished third at districts but their win over Holyoke last Saturday may have hurt them seeding wise as a loss would have cost them in the RPI standings but likely pushed them into a different regional.
Marissa Schelling (13.2) and Dawson Knode (12.1) are top-level talents and both have state tournament experience from when the Bulldogs won the consolation crown a year ago. The two also combine for nearly 16 rebounds a game and the Bulldogs need good efforts from both this weekend to advance. Molly Brown (7.4) and McKenna Anderson (7.2) are two others who can score for Haxtun.
Haxtun must not look past an Ellicott club that won 17 games in a good Black Forest conference. The Thunderhawks have three losses to league champion Simla and then against 3A rivals Florence and Manitou Springs. Graciela Donez is first in scoring (12.9) and second in rebounding (7.1) and those numbers are flipped for senior classmate Devinne Larreau with 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Las Animas earned their regional trip by beating Crowley County 51-48 in the first round of the District 6 tournament. That win finished off a three-game winning streak for the Trojans which matched their longest of the season. Angelica Martinez (10.3) is the teams’ lone double-digit scorer.
REGION EIGHT – Ignacio High School
3:00pm: #8 Ignacio (19-2) vs #25 Sanford (15-7)
6:30pm: #9 Denver Christian (17-4) vs #24 Paonia (14-8)
The eight-nine seed regional tournament is always a good place to start when looking for possible upsets. Ignacio won their district tournament and earned the right to host and while Denver Christian came up short to Limon in regionals, the Thunder are still third overall in the RPI standings. Ignacio is only 25th and in fact, the Bobcats also sit behind first round opponent Paonia (24th) in the standings and are just two spots better than Sanford (27th).
The Bobcats though are a very good team that was hurt RPI wise by competing in a down year for the San Juan conference. No other 2A league rival cracked the top 40 in RPI and those numbers damaged the strength of schedule component for Ignacio.
Leading scorer Avionne Gomez (16.5) provides outside scoring with 41 three-pointers. Morgan Herrera patrols the inside with 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds a game. Sanford will need to limit attempts for both players if they wish to spring the upset.
Sanford won’t be a pushover as they’ve played a tremendous schedule. The Indians have lost three times to Del Norte and once apiece to 3A state championship contenders Pagosa Springs, Centauri and Lamar. The seventh loss was a surprising upset against Monte Vista (39-31) right before Christmas. Taylor Larsen is an excellent point guard and leads the Indians in scoring (11.6). Nykia Ruvolo, who likely will be matched up with Herrera on the inside, chips in eight points and seven rebounds a game.
The district championship loss to Limon proved costly to Denver Christian. As the top rated non-champion in the RPI, the Thunder were forced to make the long trek to Ignacio for the weekend and the draw pits them against defending state champion Paonia in the first round. As the 24th seed, the Eagles are not the same club they were a year ago but the championship experience from last season could make them a dangerous first round foe.
The Eagles lost to Vail Christian in the opening round of districts forcing them to win two games in two days to land a regional berth. They did just that in beating Hayden (38-17) last Friday and then Hotchkiss (46-44) last Saturday. Paonia will need big games from McKenna Palmer (9.2) and Kassidy Rapke (7.4) to knock off the Thunder.
Miranda Kortenhoeven (10.3) leads a senior heavy lineup in scoring for Denver Christian. Classmates Jessie Koorneef, Sydney Beijer, McKenna Mueller and Hally Herder all contribute five to six points per game. Sitting in-between is sophomore Kara Amidon with a 10-point average.
REGION FIVE – Swink High School
5:30pm: #5 Swink (19-2) vs #28 Byers (9-13)
7:00pm: #12 Wray (17-5) vs #21 Colorado Springs School (17-5)
This is very difficult draw for both Swink and Wray. Both have spent much of the season in top five of the statewide rankings and each has enough talent to make a state championship run, but only one will advance to Loveland next week.
Swink seeks a third consecutive appearance to the state tournament and the junior class that again leads the team have been important players since stepping on the court for the first time as freshmen. The group has already played five state tournament games and will rely on that experience this weekend.
Brianna Denton (16.3) is the top scorer followed by Courtney Estrada (12.3). Kyla O’Neal (9.2) and Tierra Holland (8.0) are two others that are close to double figures. Each of the four also contributes at least five rebounds a game with O’Neal chipping in nearly four assists per game.
The concern for Swink in a potential matchup against Wray is the size differential. Most of the Lions stand in the neighborhood of 5-7 to 5-8 while the Eagles trot out Maddie Soehner (6-2) and Morgan Smith (6-1) in their starting lineup and can also provide some additional size off the bench. Smith averages 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while Soehner provides eight points and eight rebounds. The backcourt is led by the duo of Peyton Pecar (12.4) and Paige Brown (8.3) who were also very important to the Eagles during their state finals run a year ago.
Colorado Springs School won eight of their last nine to finish the regular season and then reached regionals by beating Peyton (44-32) in the district quarterfinals. Narrow losses to Simla (45-37) and Calhan (50-43) followed so the Kodiaks need to rebuild confidence for this weekend. Their only win against a team still alive in the playoffs in any class came against Kiowa (1A).
Three players average double figures for CSS. Natalie Richardi (12.2) tops the list followed by Ali Graham (10.8) and Whitney Richardi (10.5).
Byers can rely on their strong schedule as they enter their game with Swink as the underdog. Stretches without scoring have hurt the Bulldogs in almost every loss this season so if they can play a full 32-minutes and shoot it well, they could be a tough team to eliminate. Kenzy Largent (9.7) is the top scorer and has made 42 of the team’s 54 three-pointers. Becca Earl (8.1) and Devon Harris (7.8) also contribute offensively.
REGION FOUR – Rangely High School
7:30pm: #4 Rangely (19-3) vs #29 Norwood (9-13)
6:00pm: #13 Calhan (17-5) vs #20 Dayspring Christian (14-7)
Because of location, not much attention was paid to Rangely during the season but the Panthers quietly put together a 19-win season and with the district championship, get to play at home this weekend. And again because of location, that serves as a big advantage for them.
Rangely also has plenty of momentum going in as they’ve won 11 straight since a loss to 3A Cedaredge. Their only 2A loss on the season came against Soroco in league play which they avenged in the district semifinals (50-40) last week. They also defeated a very good Meeker club the next night to claim the district crown. All three teams ended league tied for the top spot with identical 10-1 marks.
Kate Brown scored 23 points against Soroco and 22 against Meeker and in the process; upped her season scoring average to 20.3. The senior has scored at least 20 in four of her last five games and ten times overall. Brown also leads the team with 55 three-pointers and over five rebounds per game. Other players to watch include Skylar Thacker (10.8) and Kassidee Brown (9.0). They combined for 58 points in the district tournament last week.
Calhan also produced a solid regular season finishing with 17 wins and a third-place finish in the Black Forest. They’re the only team to beat Simla this year; knocking off the Cubs 60-46 on January 20th. The Bulldogs also fell to Simla 47-43 on February 14th.
The Bulldogs don’t have much size on the inside but the move ball well and are patient enough to wait for the open shot on the perimeter. Brittany Fuchs (12.2) is the top scorer and also easily leads the team with 40 three-pointers. Sierra Knox adds 11 points per game and Bailee Carter provides 9.8 points and a team best 8.6 rebounds.
Dayspring Christian stunned top seeded Highland in the District 7 semifinals and finished second to Clear Creek in that bracket. Megan Roberts dropped in 21 points against the Huskies and leads the team in scoring overall with over 23 points a night. The senior has totaled 94 points over her last four games and has netted at least 20 in 16 games including a season best 33 against both Twin Peaks Charter and Campion Academy.
Norwood’s win over Telluride 55-44 last Saturday gave them the third and final regional berth from the San Juan conference. It’s been a rebuilding year for the program but they have come on strong down the stretch with wins in three of their last four and seven of their last nine. Senior Courtney Lemon is scoring 22 points per game and leads the Mavericks with 7.5 rebounds. She has four double-doubles this season including 29 points and 16 rebounds against Ridgway last week.
REGION TWO – Simla High School
4:00pm: #2 Simla (21-1) vs #31 Sargent (11-11)
5:30pm: #15 Highland (17-4) vs #18 Fowler (15-6)
This is one of the better brackets in Class 2A this year as Simla and Highland both won regular season league titles with Fowler second in the Santa Fe and Sargent third in the Southern Peaks.
As mentioned, Simla’s lone stumble this year came in a 14-point loss to Calhan back on January 20th. Since that game, the Cubs have reeled off 13 wins with only decided by single digits. They avenged the loss to Calhan by beating the Bulldogs (47-43) very late in the season and then won the district title with a convincing 45-29 win over Colorado Springs School.
Balance and depth are the two key components for Simla. Coach Al Snyder routinely has 9-10 players in his rotation and none seem to worry who scores the points. But Jerraldawn Rector is where the Cubs go if they need points in a tight situation. The senior paces the club in scoring (11.3) and can put points on the board inside or out. Kegan Hamacher (9.0) is a good outside shooter and Simla also gets points from Kaitlyn Rector (8.7) and Chloe Duffy (6.9). Five others provide three or four points per game.
Sargent has captured wins in four of their last five games. A low-scoring 29-25 loss to Sanford in the district semifinals is the only blemish during that stretch. They recovered to top Custer County 55-37 in the District 1 third-place contest.
Five players provide at least four points per game for Sargent. Lainie Dillon (11.8) is first on that list followed by Harlee Pepper (8.1) and McKinzie Tolliver (6.5).
Because of the upset loss to Dayspring Christian last week, Highland may have something to prove this weekend. They were hoping to run the table in the district tournament and also be at home this weekend. Instead, the Huskies face Fowler in what should be one of the better first round matchups on Friday. If they’re fortunate enough to win there, a likely date with Simla (in their gym) is waiting on Saturday.
Maison Tolle (13.4) and Laramie Woods (11.1) are the top two scorers for Highland. Lauren Frink adds 8.8 while Olivia Himmel gets seven points and nearly 10 rebounds per night.
Fowler placed second to Swink in the Santa Fe conference and is the only league team to beat the Lions over the past three years. They collected a 43-35 home win over the Lions in late February. They’ve also lost twice to the Lions this year.
Elizabeth Hagerman and Lexi Van Sickle are two seniors who have been drawing full attention of defense for the past three years. Hagerman averages 13 points and 10 rebounds and does a lot of her damage on the inside. Van Sickle is the point guard but is second on the squad with 10 points per game. Jacquelin Avery (7.4) is a junior and can provide points when called upon.
REGION SEVEN – Clear Creek High School
7:0pm: #7 Clear Creek (20-2) vs #26 Custer County (11-11)
5:00pm: #10 Meeker (17-5) vs #23 Lyons (12-9)
Because they compete in the 3A Frontier during the regular season, not many coaches are that familiar or spend time scouting Clear Creek, but this is a good basketball club. The Golddiggers fought past Lyons (37-30) in the district semifinals and then handled Dayspring Christian (65-41) to land the title and earn the right to host this weekend. They’ll be favored against Custer County on Friday but could face a rematch with Lyons or a top 10 seed battle with Meeker the next night.
Grace Werlin (14.0) and Rachel Lucas (11.9) have been the top scorers throughout the season for Clear Creek. Werlin dropped in 44 points in three district tournament games last week and also added 17 rebounds and six steals. Lucas was held to 15 combined points in the first two games and then tallied 16 points in the finals against Dayspring. She also had 14 rebounds and eight assists in the tournament.
Custer County placed fourth in the District 1 bracket and had a five-game winning streak before dropping their final two district games against Del Norte and Sargent by a combined 30 points. Their best win of the season is against 1A Sierra Grande who is still battling for a spot in that state tournament. Elizabeth Mullett (19.8) is the only player averaging more than six points a contest and she also leads the team in rebounding (8.0). The senior scored a season best 36 in the regular season finale against South Park and then added 27 in the first district game against Center.
Meeker ended up just two points away from hosting a regional this weekend as they fell to Rangely (52-51) in the district championship game. The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak which started after a first loss to Rangely in conference play. The Cowboys also drew a high seed among the non-district champions after ending up fifth in the RPI standings. Denver Christian was the only non-champion ranked higher.
Megan Shelton is Meeker’s top player with 12 points and nine rebounds per game. She went for 18 points and nine boards in last Saturday’s loss to Rangely. Victoria Lasker and Julia Dinwiddie also combine for 18 points and 15 rebounds a game.
Lyons carries a three-game losing streak into the regional bracket and did not win a district tournament game. Because they finished so well in the Mile-High conference, the Lions earned a bye into the district semifinals and was an automatic regional qualifier. Ixcel Leeuwenburg (10.5) and Madison Johnson (9.9) are the top two scorers.
REGION SIX – Del Norte High School
6:00pm: #6 Del Norte (19-3) vs #27 Dolores (10-11)
7:30pm: #11 Holyoke (16-6) vs #22 Vail Christian (14-8)
The scenario for Del Norte and Holyoke is almost identical of Swink-Wray in Region Five. Both teams have spent much of the season in the top five statewide rankings but because of pairings, only one can reach Loveland. Both are favored to get wins on Friday and that could set up a very intense matchup on Saturday with the state tournament bid on the line.
Del Norte, the Southern Peaks regular season and district champion, opened the season 3-3 but has won 16 straight games since. Each loss is considered high quality as two were against 3A power Centauri and the third to Swink on the final day of the La Junta Tournament.
After playing in a supporting role as a freshman, sophomore guard Kendra Parra has developed into a strong player of the year candidate. She runs the team from the point guard slot and also leads the Tigers in scoring with nearly 20 points per game (19.7). Parra has hit a team-high 30 treys and also provides over four assists and four steals per contest.
Lacey Jones is the anchor on the inside with 10.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. She also collects over three steals per game. The junior has five double-doubles this year including a strong 23-point, 14 rebound effort in a quality win over Rocky Ford.
Del Norte already has one win over Dolores this year; beating the Bears 49-18 in December. Dolores trailed 22-7 at halftime and never threatened. They’ll look to avoid a similar start on Friday. Tatum Majors tops the Bears scoring chart with 9.4 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds with eight.
Don’t let the number six in the loss column for Holyoke fool you. Three of those losses are against Wray and two were suffered to top ranked Yuma. The sixth was the district semifinal with Haxtun (46-44) where the Dragons almost rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit.
Taeryn Trumper scored 23 in the loss and hit 9 of 13 shots from the field. She is the top scorer for Holyoke with 12.9 points per game. She also picks up five rebound and nearly three steals. Grace Dille is a very close second in scoring (12.2) and easily the team’s best rounder with nearly 15 per game. The senior has double figures in rebounds in all but two games including three of over 20. She has 14 double-doubles in 22 games.
Vail Christian earned their regional spot by beating Paonia 44-37 in the first round of the district tournament but the Saints haven’t tasted victory since. They were beaten by both Meeker (53-42) and Soroco (42-40) and lost some ground in the RPI standings. They’ve had just four games decided by single digits but three have come down the stretch including the two-point loss to Soroco, another two-point decision to Hotchkiss and a one-point loss to Cedaredge.
REGION THREE – Limon High School
7:00pm: #3 Limon (20-1) vs #30 Hoehne (12-11)
5:30pm: #14 Soroco (17-5) vs #19 Burlington (13-9)
Another first round contest to keep an eye this Friday is the matchup here between Soroco and Burlington. The Cougars are the lower seed but have played with and beaten some strong teams in the last few weeks. The Cougars pushed #3 Limon to double-overtime in a 57-54 decision February 3rd and then knocked off Wray (70-67) in overtime ten days later. They also surrendered a big third quarter lead in a 41-40 district semifinal loss to Denver Christian.
Burlington has four players scoring at least seven points per game but no individual is averaging double figures. Megan Burghart (9.4) leads in scoring following closely by Alex Bauer (7.9), Trinity Perry (7.8) and Caprise Cominiello (7.3).
Soroco, which shared the Western Slope title with Rangely and Meeker, relies heavily on the three-point shot. They’ve attempted a whopping 520 treys through 22 games and made 120 of them (23 percent). If the Rams are on, they can beat virtually any team in the field. Chloe Veilleux has a team-high 38 three-pointers; Kayla Wille 29 and Charlee Veilleux 22. Mattie Rossi is also in double figures with 10.
Limon won their first ten games of the season and their last ten. In the middle was a 50-40 road loss at #2 Simla on January 23rd. The Badgers have the depth and talent to make a serious run to Loveland, but it’s still a fairly young roster. Only one senior is in the main rotation and Brooke Smith is fourth on the team in scoring with 6.5 per game. Anna Weisensee appears fully recovered from a wrist injury suffered at mid-season and she leads the team with 10.6 per game. Since returning to the lineup, the junior has reached double figures in four in seven games including the last two where she combined for 27 points in wins over Byers and Denver Christian.
There are many other contributors for Limon offensively including Toni Lopez (8.2), Sydney Hines (7.7), Amy Weisensee (6.1), Elivia Hilferty (5.8) and Jenna Jaklich (4.4).
Seeded just sixth in the Santa Fe district tournament, Hoehne may be considered a surprise in the regional tournament bracket. A district quarterfinal win over Rocky Ford (45-36) got them here. That decision avenged two losses to the Meloneers by a combined 42 points in conference play. The Farmers netted 21 first-quarter points and finished with six three-pointers in the win. Shaelyn Walton led the way with 13 points; Jaylyn Tortorelli had 11 and Kamryn Baca-Cordova 10.