Topping the list of important matchups in 2A girls’ basketball are first place meetings inside the Union Pacific and Santa Fe conferences.  Limon and Burlington square off with the winner likely claiming the Union Pacific crown while the winner between Swink and Rocky Ford takes over the top spot inside the Santa Fe.
Both games are set for Saturday and we begin with the I-70 rivalry between Limon and Burlington.  The Badgers (3-0) are alone in first with Burlington (4-1) in second place and the last challenger between Limon and the title.  Coach Bart O’Dwyer’s club also hosts Stratton/Liberty on Friday in another league encounter.
Playing without leading scorer Anna Weisensee (11.3), the Badgers have been involved in tight battles of late.  They fell to Simla 50-40 and then survived Peyton in overtime 55-53 last week.  Such games should help a young roster that does not feature a senior, gain confidence for future playoff games ahead.
Jenna Jaklich (12), Brooke Smith (10), Elivia Hilferty (10) and Sidney Hines (10) picked up the scoring slack against Peyton.  Smith also led the way in the loss against Simla; scoring 11 points.  Amy Weisensee and Hines each chipped in nine.
Burlington took over second place in the Union Pacific by beating Flagler/Hi Plains last week.  Their only league loss is against Genoa Hugo (31-30).  A win over Limon will put the Cougars in the driver’s seat for the championship as they would have head-to-head wins over their top rivals.  Plus, their only conference game left after this weekend is against Stratton/Liberty and they’ll be favored against a very young Knighted Eagles club.
Swink’s loss to Fowler last week snapped their 35-game conference winning streak and left them tied with Rocky Ford for the Santa Fe lead.  Fowler, with two losses, remained in the chase by avenging an earlier loss to the Lions.  Elizabeth Hagerman paced Fowler with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win.  Lexi Van Sickle and Jacquelin Alvey each had six points and the Grizzlies defense limited the Lions to just eight field goals for the entire game.
Part of the reason for Swink’s offensive troubles also involved injuries.  Starting point guard Kyla O’Neal and the top substitute did not suit up for the Lions.  Both are expected back in the lineup this week.  O’Neal led Swink with 13 points in a 43-24 win over Rocky Ford in the season’s first meeting.  Courtney Estrada added 11 points and 11 rebounds while Brooke Denton provided 10 points and seven boards.
Rocky Ford connected on just 7 of 45 shots in game one against Swink but they’ve not dropped a league contest since.  Abby Snyder led the Meloneers with seven points and Meghan Saltzman five.  Both are freshman and likely will be more productive in the rematch.
Since Swink has already split with Fowler, a season sweep of the Meloneers returns them to the drivers’ seat for the conference crown.  Rocky Ford and Fowler would then collide on February 13th to likely determine second and third place.  All three teams remain in title contention if Rocky Ford claims the win this week.
Most of the top teams from the Lower Platte face lower division opponents this week so we don’t expect a major change in the standings.  One key game though does pit Haxtun against Merino and that outcome could determine fourth and fifth.  It’s important as the higher seed gets the chance to play at home in round one of the district tournament.
Haxtun won the first meeting with the Rams 46-45 but all-stater Dawson Knode did not play in the game due to injury.  She’s back in the lineup and scoring almost 12 points with 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 steals in six games played.  Her absence also allowed Marissa Schelling to become a top line scorer for the Bulldogs.  She produced 21 points in the first matchup with Merino.  Lydia Stegner (17) and Rylynn Nelson (12) led Merino.
Of course, the most important result in the Lower Platte last week occurred on Saturday when Yuma rallied past Wray 50-43.  The visiting Indians trailed 16-9 after one quarter but trimmed the lead to one by halftime.  Reagan Nolin, who finished with 10 points, nailed a very important three-pointer for Yuma at the end of the third quarter and that was the turning point in the game.
Cody Robinson and Chasey Blach each scored 14 to lead Yuma overall.  Wray got 13 from Morgan Smith and 11 from Virginia Dean-Nein.  Yuma hosts Merino on Friday and goes to Caliche on Saturday.  Wray is off from league play but scored a nice win over Chase County NE on Tuesday.  Holyoke, which has yet to play Yuma in conference play, is favored at Wiggins and Akron this weekend.
The Calhan-Peyton matchup on Friday could normally draw top headlines but since it’s a non-conference game, we’ve moved down the list a bit.  The two rivals meet again on February 16th and that result will impact the Black Forest standings.
Winners of nine straight, Calhan (12-1) is tied with Ellicott and Simla for the Black Forest lead.  Peyton is in fourth place with one league loss.  The Panthers also meet 3A Manitou Springs on Saturday so each game will boost their RPI strength of schedule.
Simla is home to ECA on Friday and then plays Las Animas on Saturday.  Ellicott has just one game on tap and they’re favored at Fountain Valley on Thursday.
Ignacio can virtually wrap up the San Juan conference title and top district seed by beating Dolores for a second time.  The Bobcats host the Bears on Thursday.  The clubs are separated by two games so another Ignacio win creates a three-game cushion entering the final two weeks of the season.
Game one went to Ignacio 43-25 on December 12th.  Makayla Howell led the offense with 12 points and was one of 12 players in the scoring column.  Avionne Gomez added 10.  Dolores earned seven apiece from Tatum Majors and Sarah Hamilton.
Ignacio is 7-0 since the first meeting and also host Norwood on Saturday.  Dolores is 4-2 since the Ignacio loss including a difficult 34-29 setback to Ouray last week.  That loss dropped them two games back of the league leaders and severely damaged their league title hopes.  Ouray is 5-1 in league play and the top 1A club in the conference.  They face Ignacio on the final weekend.
Del Norte grabbed control of the Southern Peaks chase by downing Sanford 38-20 last Saturday.  The Tigers improved to 11-3 overall and stayed perfect in conference play.  They’re at Center on Friday for their only game action of the week.
Another important win inside the league last week went to Center as they beat South Park 53-38.  That win puts Center in position to land the fourth seed and get the opportunity to play at home in the early rounds of the district tournament.  Makayla Medina dropped in 18 points and Camille Ruggles added eight.  Mirriah Varela, Brandi Almeida and Isabella Philbern each chipped in six.
Highland’s 60-34 win over Union Colony Prep on Tuesday kept them tied with Denver Christian atop the Mile-High standings.  Both teams are now 7-0 and one game up on Heritage Christian.  The Huskies used a 21-4 to start the game on their way to an 11th straight win.
Denver Christian and Highland meet on the 13th.  Highland also has a game remaining with Heritage Christian on the 10th.  They have the rest of the week off while Denver Christian faces Dawson on Saturday.
While Denver Christian moves over to District 4 to challenge the likes of Limon and Burlington in post-season play, Highland could see strong competition from Clear Creek in their district tournament.  The Golddiggers have moved to up 18th in the RPI and continue to battle for the 3A Frontier championship.  They’re tied with Middle Park and Academy in first place and those two clubs meet on Saturday.
Clear Creek has won 11 in a row including a very important 54-41 decision over Bennett last week.  Grace Werlin scored a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.  She also nailed four three-pointers.  Rachel Lucas added 14.
On the Western Slope, Rangely may have the most difficult schedule for the weekend.  The Panthers host Hotchkiss on Friday and then visit Vail Christian on Saturday.  Soroco is the conference leader (7-0) with Rangely and Meeker (6-1) both a game back.  Vail Christian has a share of fourth place while Hotchkiss is also at 500 in league play (3-3).
The Panthers have won three straight including a 53-36 win over Plateau Valley last week.  They have a win over Meeker (42-37) so they currently have the tiebreaker for second place.  They’ve also already face first place Soroco while the Cowgirls meet the Rams on the 16th.
Soroco is on the road to West Grand and Hayden Friday and Saturday.  Meeker plays three games in three days against Little Snake River WY, Caprock Academy and Hotchkiss.  Vail Christian has the head-to-head on Paonia in the race for fourth thanks to a 44-32 win last week.  Paonia struggled from the field in the loss; hitting just 14 of 60 shots from the field and just 3-14 from the foul line.