CHSAA released preseason rankings from statewide coaches on Monday and we look at the top clubs in Class 2A.
Feature photo is provided by Zachary Allen / Pueblo Chieftain.
#1 Rye: Not a surprise to see the Thunderbolts in the top spot to start the season as they return virtually the entire roster from a club what won 24 straight games before a quarterfinal loss to Sanford (46-31) ended their perfect season and state championship run. Despite that loss, the Thunderbolts gained valuable post-season experience and should use that as one of the favorites to land the 2A crown in 2021. Three double figure scorers; Jolee Ortiz (13.5), Sophie Adamson (13.0) and Sydney Adamson (10.6) are back to lead the offense and they were responsible for over two-thirds of an offense that averaged 52 points a game. The Adamson twins also each averaged five rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. Ortiz was the top outside shooter with 39 three pointers. Chloe Richardson added seven points and five rebounds a game and Morgan Elarton provided almost four points and four rebounds a night. More contribution came from Aurora Ramos with three points and two rebounds. The most important regular season game is February 26th as they host Rocky Ford in what should be for the Santa Fe championship. Other challenges could come in week one against Manitou Springs (3A) and Del Norte.
#2 Limon: 10 players averaged at least three points per game a year ago as a deep Badgers squad reached the state semifinals. But only three of those players return for 2021. The list is headed up by junior Trista Marx who led the balanced group with 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She provided 25 points and 12 rebounds in a 79-39 regional finals win over Hotchkiss. Sophomore Paige Hutsell was sixth in scoring a year ago (3.5) and also added 2.8 rebounds and will get many more minutes this season. The third key returnee is senior Jaley Schubarth who tallied 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds a night. Juniors Jordyn Tacha (2.8) and Michiah Leeper (2.5) combined to see time in 27 varsity games a year ago and could push for starting nods in 2021. The adjusted schedule opens with a conference game against 1A rival Genoa Hugo on January 29th followed by a strong challenge with Yuma the next afternoon. Kit Carson is up on February 2nd and they then battle Wray on the 27th. A much-anticipated contest with Holyoke on the road wraps is set for the final weekend on March 5th.
#3 Sanford: Like many programs across the state, the Indians ended last season in a tough manner. After gaining a solid 46-31 win over higher seeded Rye in the state quarterfinals, they were not given the chance to finish a possible state tournament run. The win at state though pushed the Indians to a 16-7 record and gave them plenty of momentum entering the new campaign. Always a balanced offense, Sanford featured eight players averaging at least 2.5 points per game last season and four of those players return. All are juniors. Asia Caldon (8.5) is the top returning scorer and Cheyenne Caldon (3.4) is the top returning rebounder. The cousins also combined for 34 three-pointers on the season. Joining them again this year is the duo of Riley Canty (3.2 points) and Haley Faucette (2.6) who also grabbed five rebounds a game together. That group will need to post higher numbers to offset the graduation loss of Mackenzie Peterson who led the Indians with 11 points and five rebounds a game a year ago. The schedule is solid including an opening stretch of three games in three days; against Custer County, Mancos and #7 Ignacio on January 28-30th. The Indians also tangle with local rivals Sangre De Cristo (Feb 9th) and Del Norte (March 6th).
#4 Holyoke: Just one blemish to Limon on the 2019-20 schedule for the Dragons who may have gotten a second chance against the Badgers in the state championship game. The clubs were seeded 1-2 at the state tournament and both earned impressive state quarterfinal wins a year ago. Each was one win away from “rematching it up” for the state championship when the season came to the disappointing end. Due to graduation, a new backcourt will need development but the Dragons return major talent along the baseline. Junior Kristen Vieselmeyer is back after pacing the Dragons in points (14.0) and rebounds (9.8) last season. Classmate Laura Herman was second in both categories; averaging 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. She also chipped in 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game along with 15 three-pointers. A third junior, Corey Koellner (3.4) should also get more offensive chances due to graduation losses of Emily Jelden, Sarah Razo, Shianne Willmon and Victoria Race. The Dragons begin the Lower Platte slate with back-to-back challenges against Yuma and Merino on February 5-6th. Sedgwick County is up on February 19th with Wray on the 26th. Non-league tests include 3A Brush (Jan 30th) and a rematch with Limon to close the season (March 5th).
#5 Wray: The Eagles reached another state tournament last season by outlasting Meeker (57-55) in a great regional final but then saw an end to their season with a loss to Del Norte (63-46) in the state quarterfinals. Three of the top four scorers from that club return including Karly Godsey (13.0) and Tabby Jones (11.2). Both also pulled down over six rebounds a game and they combined for over four steals and nearly six assists. In the regional final against Meeker, Godsey netted 19 points and eight rebounds while Jones contributed 16 points and seven rebounds along with three treys. Sophomore Larissa Salmans should also be a major factor after averaging six points and 4.5 rebounds in her first high school campaign. Better scoring numbers could also come from Kaycee McBride (2.8), Jordynn Wiltfang (2.1) and Chloe Cure (1.7). Before thinking about the post-season, the Eagles must always work through a rugged Lower Platte schedule that includes game with Holyoke, Yuma, Merino and Sedgwick County. They also face a very good test vs Limon on February 27th.
#6 Rocky Ford: A state tournament appearance is about the only way the Meloneers can top what they accomplished in 2019-20. They closed at 21-3 with a second-place finish in the Santa Fe league. It was the third straight season of at least 14 wins but a coveted Great 8 appearance fell one game short with a tough loss to Ignacio (43-28) in the regional finals. Senior Abi Snyder will lead the state tournament push. She’s the lone first or second-team returning all-state player across all of Class 2A. Snyder dropped in 17 points, handed out three assists, recorded five steals and collected nearly seven rebounds a game a year ago. But the Meloneers will be far from a one-woman show as four other seniors who have played since their freshman season return as well. Lily Hancock (6.4), Meghan Saltzman (5.9), Cat Holguin (4.0) and Teagan Mendoza-Werner (3.1) combined for nearly 20 points a game a year ago. And together they picked up 15 rebounds a game. Junior Nevaeh Rodriguez (2.8) and sophomore Amber Saltzman (2.7) will again provide quality depth. The schedule is back-loaded; closing against Rye (Feb 26th), Kit Carson (Feb 27th) and Sangre De Cristo (March 5th). The game with Rye will again likely decide the league championship. Rye won both pairings last season; 54-38 in the regular season and 43-23 in the district championship.
#7 Ignacio: 18 wins and a trip to the state quarterfinals is a quick recap of the 2019-20 season for the Bobcats. They upset Rocky Ford (43-28) in the regional finals to reach the Great Eight where they fell to Holyoke (47-34) in what turned out to be the last day of the basketball season. Leading scorer Makayla Howell (8.0) and Larissa Gallegos (4.6) graduated last Spring but in-between are six returnees that each averaged between six and seven points in a very balanced attack. Charlize Valdez (6.1), Jayden Brunson (5.9) and Ebonee Gomez (5.9) are back along with juniors Avaleena Nanaeto (6.4) and Monika Lucero (5.8). That group is also aggressive on the defensive end where they combined for over 11 steals per game. Due to location, the Bobcats always struggle for a high seed due to strength of schedule but this year they have strong dates with Sanford and Cedaredge this year. Sanford is the very first game on January 30th with Cedaredge on tap for February 25th.
#8 Del Norte: The Tigers captured 21 wins and finished last season with six straight wins including an impressive 63-46 win over Wray in the state quarterfinals. But heading into this season, several support players from last year’s club will need to step into major roles. The key loss of course is Kendra Parra. The 2A Player of the Year finished her outstanding prep career with 29 points against Wray and just 51 shy of 2,000 for her career. Two other key losses are Yesenia Rosales (4.9) who graduated and Gabby Jones (8.9 points / 7.7 rebounds) who has transferred to Sargent. The top returnee is senior Kaeci Madrid who was second in scoring (9.9) and third in rebounds (4.8) a year ago. Classmate Lynnea Valdez (3.7 pts / 3.8 rebs) will also get more opportunities to score this year. Coaches can also expect more contribution from sophomores Abby Rivera (1.8), Charley Higham (1.8) and Kelci Madrid (1.4). All the new faces will get tested early with games against 3A Alamosa (Jan 26th), Swink (28th) and Rye (30th) in the first week. Pagosa Springs and Sangre De Cristo are also on the schedule and the Tigers finish up with Sanford on March 6th.
#9 Meeker: Despite losing five of their top seven scorers to graduation, expectations remain high in the Northwest corner as the Cowgirls should again challenge for a league championship. Because of the shortened season, the WSL has been divided into two divisions with Meeker joined by Rangely, Vail Christian, Vail Mountain, West Grand, Hayden, Soroco and North Park in the North. Teams will face all divisional rivals during the season and then play a cross over game based on seeds for the final game of the year. Sarah Kracht (13.2) and Hailey Knowles (6.6) are the top scorers back in the lineup and they also combined for six steals per game. Knowles was also second on the team in rebounds last year (5.9) and Kracht knocked down 60 three-pointers. Juniors Savannah Mendenhall and Emma Knez saw very limited varsity time last year but they will be asked to step up more this year as the club must overcome graduation losses of Julia Dinwiddie (15 pts/11 rebs) and Kirsten Brown (9 pts / 4 rebs). An early season battle with #10 Cedaredge on January 30th could be the highlight of the regular season slate. If both win their divisions, a rematch could take place in the regular season finale. Games against local rivals such as Moffat County (Feb 23rd) and Rangely (March 4th) are always exciting as well plus the matchup with Soroco (Feb 13th) could determine the division winner.
#10 Cedaredge: Dropping in from Class 3A and returning six of their top eight scorers and rebounders from a 19-win team, the Bruins could easily have been ranked higher to start the season. They’re favored to win the WSL Southern division and push for a spot in the state tournament. Kammie Henderson topped the Bruins in points (14.0) and rebounds (8.4) last year; reaching double figures in all but three games with nine double-doubles. She dropped in 16 points with six rebounds and six steals in a regional final loss to University in Class 3A last season. Fellow seniors Elizabeth Gilmore (4.7), Kimmy Milholland (3.9), Sophie Andrews (3.8) and Aspen Furubotten (2.2) are also back after combining for nearly 15 points last season. That group is joined by junior Megan Gastineau who was third in scoring last season (6.6) while chipping in 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.0 steals as well. The Bruins open at home against Hotchkiss on January 29th but face a good challenge at Meeker the next day. 3A Moffat County is on the schedule for February 4th and they’ll also get tested with a long road trip to Ignacio on February 26th.
#11 Yuma should be able to bounce back from a sub-par 10-12 record as they return seven of their top eight scorers including top producer Ema Richardson (15.2). Elle Roth (6.8) led the Indians in rebounds and should improve on her scoring average (4.6) as well. Taylor Law (3.6) and Meidi Reyes (3.5) should also do the same. #12 Heritage Christian won 22 games last season but missed a state bid due to a 46-37 loss to Sanford. Gone is double-double machine Emma Johnson but Savannah Brown could take over that role after picking up 7.9 points and 10.6 rebounds as a junior. The backcourt is led by Kali Siemers (10.6). #13 Holly finished 14-11 last season but got hot at the right time; winning five of six to reach the state tournament. That run ended with a 22-point loss to Limon in the quarterfinals. Three of the top four scorers were seniors so the Wildcats will lean heavily on Sierra Howland (6.4) and Jean Slack (4.7) in the early season as others fit into new roles. #14 Soroco made it to the regional finals last season; falling to Holyoke (41-32) in that round. State expectations are fitting this year as the Rams welcome back four of their top five scorers including Kaydence Bruner (13.8), Makinley Parker (8.2) and Peyton Parker (5.0). Those three also combined for 80 of the teams’ 122 three-pointers a year ago. They host Meeker on February 13th in a game that could determine the Western Slope North division. #15 Peyton graduated top scorer Kayleigh Mannering (17.1) from a 19-win regional finals team but welcomes back Shelby Miller (13.6) and Paige Gowen (7.7). Miller also knocked in 41 three-pointers. The early schedule is very difficult with matchups against 3A Manitou Springs and St Mary’s in the first week. Future opponents also include Elbert, Simla, Yuma and Calhan.
OTHER TOP PLAYERS RETURNING
|Trinity Perry||Burlington||16.6 points / 10.1 rebounds|
|Jaden Monger||Calhan||8.1 rebounds|
|Whitney Richardi||Colorado Springs School||12.3 points|
|Mia Chavez||Colorado Springs School||3.3 assists|
|Samantha Castillo||Dolores||8.4 rebounds|
|Amana Malki||Lotus School||18.5 points|
|Jazmyn Enny||Lyons||2.8 assists|
|Avery Joy||Lyons||12.3 points|
|Madi Hale||Mancos||8.1 rebounds|
|Maddisyn Miller||Plateau Valley||8.8 rebounds|
|Madison Clark||Plateau Valley||12.9 points|
|Aspen Reisburg||Platte Canyon||12.3 points|
|Kacie Lapp||Rangely||9.0 rebounds|
|Kamryn Arnold||Union Colony Prep||12.3 points / 8.9 rebounds|
|McCurdy Grace||Vail Christian||9.1 rebounds|
|Alex Schake||West Grand||8.1 rebounds|
|Lexi McCullough||Wiggins||8.5 rebounds|