Non-conference play dominates the 3A schedule as the basketball season resumes this week.  Outcomes from each game we feature will impact RPI standings of course and could help determine where the qualifiers are placed in the state tournament bracket.
Topping our list of games is the Friday matchup between 2nd ranked Kent Denver and 4th ranked Alamosa.  The Sun Devils ventured to the San Luis Valley to play Alamosa and Monte Vista on the road last week and this weekend marks the return visit.  Kent Denver also entertains an improved Monte Vista club on Saturday.
Both teams played strong December schedules and came away with a combined record of 11-2.  Alamosa suffered their lone loss to Faith Christian (60-46) at the Glenwood Springs Tournament but finished December with a perfect 5-0 mark against 4A opponents.  Kent Denver experienced a loss to DSST-Stapleton (58-47) but closed out the month by outscoring Manitou Springs 79-72.
There is good talent on both clubs.  Kent Denver returns juniors James Doyle (16.1) and Coby Gold (16.0) from a team that reached the 3A Final Four last season.  Doyle also leads the team in rebounds (9.6) and gets plenty of help there from Benan Ersek (7.4) on the glass.  Those three must focus on Alamosa Friday and Monte Vista Saturday and avoid looking ahead to next Tuesday’s important Metro league opener against Faith Christian.
Alamosa lost leading scorer Ryan Brubacher to graduation but features a very good point guard in Noah Romero who can dish off to the likes of Angelo Ramirez and Chad Jackson.  The trio combined for almost 30 points per game in helping the Moose to a second consecutive state tournament appearance last Spring.  They beat Kent Denver 55-50 in Alamosa last year with Romero, Ramirez and Jackson totaling 21 points.
Monte Vista won’t be an easy out either.  The Pirates (4-3) have been a bit inconsistent but when they shoot well, they have the ability to keep up with or beat any team in Class 3A.  The up-tempo offense is led by sharp shooting Darrius Garcia.  He helped the Pirate win four of their last five games in December including an 83-76 win over Centauri.
In visiting Pinnacle on Saturday, 3rd ranked Faith Christian must avoid looking ahead to Kent Denver as well.  The Timberwolves are 3-1 on the season but Faith Christian has dominated the series historically.  Over the last four years, Faith Christian is 4-0 with each win coming by at least 16 points and two by 26.
Faith Christian opened 0-2 but carries a five-game winning streak into the New Year.  They finished December on a strong note downing Resurrection Christian 81-68.  Benjamin Hawkins scored 28 points to lead the Eagles but Alec Muehlemeyer added 24 and Jonah Gardner 15.  Muehlemeyer provided outside spark with five three-pointers in the win.  Overall the Eagles average 72 points per game with 52 coming from those three.
Pinnacle scored a big win over Bayfield (59-56) in the opening week with their only loss coming in a wild 87-80 decision against Manual.  Luis Barron netted 38 in that game and leads the Timberwolves with 27.5 per game.  Keven Terrazas (13.5) and Brian Soumsong (12.7) are two other double figure scorers.
Coal Ridge (5-1) entertains 10th ranked Resurrection Christian (5-3) on Saturday.  The game will mark just the second 3A opponent for the host Titans who own a win over Colorado Academy (53-49).  Their lone loss came by the same score to 4A Montrose.
Point guard Brandon Herrera directs the Coal Ridge offense and leads the team in scoring (15.0) and assists (3.8).  Inside scoring and power comes from Kevin DiMarco who averages a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Those two nearly helped Coal Ridge to an upset of Resurrection Christian in Loveland last season.  Trailing by a wide margin at halftime, the Titans rolled back before falling short 76-73.  DiMarco (14) and Herrera (11) combined for 25 points in the loss.
Resurrection Christian returns just six points from that game but the cupboard is not bare for the Cougars.  Reece Johnson (22.0) has played in just five games and netted 25 in the loss to Faith Christian.  Jackson Romero (16.6) dropped in 24 points in a nice win over Lutheran.  Both players are just sophomores.
Coal Ridge and 6th ranked Grand Valley are expected to battle for the Western Slope championship this season.  But Roaring Fork and Delta made it through December with a combined 10 wins against just one loss and could be league championship contenders as well.  Their matchup on Friday is an attractive one but it’s a non-league contest.  Their conference battle won’t take place until February 10th.
Roaring Fork has won five in a row since falling to 4A Steamboat Springs in their season opener.  They’re also coming off an 18-6 campaign so the players know how to win.  Justin Thompson was second in scoring as a junior (12.7) and is the first option offensively as a senior.  Another key returnee is Joe Salinas who nearly averaged double figures (9.3) a year ago.
Delta is 3-0 against 3A schools beating Basalt, Olathe and Cedaredge in December.  They will face all three again in conference play over the next two months.  The Panthers get a combined 34 points a night from Jaspar Carmichel (18.7) and Logan Freed (15.3).
Bayfield (2-4) should be a different team after Christmas.  The Wolverines of course captured a state football championship so they spent a good share of December getting into basketball shape.  All four of their losses were by single digits to quality opponents as they lost to Kent Denver and Pinnacle by three points apiece, to Colorado Springs Christian by four and to top ranked Sterling by eight.
This week should be interesting and intense for the Wolverines as they face local rivals Ignacio and Durango on Friday and Saturday.  It’s part of a Southwest Colorado event that also includes Montezuma Cortez.
Averaging a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, Ryan Phelps is a definite player of the year candidate as a senior.  Classmates Dax Snooks (9.5), Keyon Prior (9.2) and Hayden Farmer (7.2) provide plenty of offensive depth.
Unbeaten and 8th ranked La Junta opens Tri Peaks league play at home against Manitou Springs on Friday and then visiting Salida on Saturday.  The Tigers beat Manitou Springs 45-30 in the championship of the Trinidad State Invitational in week one.  Dyson Oquist dropped in 22 points in the win including two three-pointers.  Manitou Spring was led by Cole Sienknecht with a dozen.
An early loss to Grand Valley knocked Colorado Springs Christian out of the top 10 and even with four straight wins, the Lions have not been able to get back in.  They could make a return next week if they put together a strong showing at the Rampart Tournament.  The schedule though is a difficult one as they face Pueblo West on Thursday, Rampart on Friday and Fruita Monument on Saturday.  All three opponents are bigger schools with quite a bit of talent.
CSCS has been led in scoring this season by the trio of Kolby Walker (18.0), Noah Hopkins (16.4) and Brandon Pitt (11.4).
Colorado Preps will track scores each night of the regular season and they will be posted inside our Daily Scoreboard.  Final scores can be sent to Colorado Preps by email to [email protected] or by text to 970.380.7737.