Based on the Tuesday win over Grand Valley, Coal Ridge is now the overwhelming favorite to land the Western Slope championship.  The Titans picked up a hard fought 68-59 win and coupled with an earlier victory over Roaring Fork, Coach Paul Harvey’s club is in great shape.
The Titans were very sharp on offense Tuesday night; hitting 22 of 37 shots from the field.  Payton White and Kevin DiMarco, with 14 points apiece, led four players in double figures.  Brandon Herrera added 13 and Jan Hernandez 12.  Hernandez added nine rebounds and four assists.  Herrera chipped in seven rebounds and a team high five assists.
Grand Valley received solid efforts from Kade Hurst and Garett McGee.  Hurst finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds and McGee had 13 points and 6 assists.  The loss was the second in league play for the Cardinals and drops them into third place behind the Titans and Roaring Fork.  They return to the court on Friday against Aspen and then go to Rifle for a non-league game on Saturday.
Roaring Fork has two games on tap this week.  They meet Basalt on Friday and Olathe on Saturday and will be favored in both.  Coal Ridge has won their last six and will be favored in every remaining league play.  Next up is a home game with Moffat County on Friday.
The league is very strong this year in RPI.  Coal Ridge is 3rd and remains in great shape to host a regional tournament if they don’t earn a district title.  Grand Valley is 7th and also in the same position.  Roaring Fork is 12th and Delta 15th this week.  Highlights of the Coal Ridge – Grand Valley can be seen here.
Vanguard kept their two-game edge in the Tri Peaks by edging Buena Vista 62-59 on Tuesday night.  The Coursers are now 8-0 in league play and two games up on Colorado Springs Christian, St Mary’s and Manitou Springs.  In fact, they can clinch the championship by beating Manitou Springs next Tuesday.  Up first is an interesting date this Friday with Class 2A power Crowley County.  That game should boost both clubs RPI.
Stats from the Tuesday win have not been posted but Vanguard received solid play from the trio of Seth Fuqua, Dominique Clifford and Carter Milroy.  Fuqua was explosive in the third quarter and Clifford shot well and featured several nice assists.  Milroy hit two critical three pointers in a wild fourth quarter.
The loss continued recent frustration for Buena Vista.  The Demons fell to 4-4 in league play and those four losses are by a total of 15 points including three by three points or less.  Cade Carroll went for 30 points in the loss and hit 10 of 21 shots.  Luke Yates and Riley Chupp each finished with six points and each hit two critical three-pointers.
Colorado Springs Christian moved to 6-2 by beating La Junta 50-38 on Tuesday.  They’re at Trinidad on Friday and have a big date with St Mary’s on February 8th.  St Mary’s meets James Irwin and Rye Friday and Saturday while Manitou Springs hosts Salida on Friday.  The Mustangs are coming off an upset loss to Lamar last week and still have a date with first place Vanguard next Tuesday.
It’s a second straight important week inside the Patriot league.  Last week, Sterling scored a very important win over Platte Valley and this Friday, the Tigers can virtually clinch the conference title by beating Resurrection Christian.  The Tigers enter the game 7-0 in league play after blasting Liberty Common 100-35 on Tuesday.  Resurrection Christian (5-1) is tied with Platte Valley one game back.  Their conference loss came against Platte Valley so they must win on Friday to stay in the league crown discussion.
Sterling has won 20 straight games overall with their last loss suffered against Resurrection Christian in the district tournament a year ago.  The defending state champs actually went 0-2 against the Cougars a year ago as they also dropped the league affair.
But while the Tigers return virtually their entire roster from the state title team, the Cougars have a completely new look.  Jackson Romero came off the bench for limited minutes in both games last year and combined for seven points.  Derek McCormick and Zane Zuhlke also experienced some action in the district tournament with Zuhlke scoring two points.
McCormick is coming off a season best 22 points in a Tuesday win over Eaton (86-46).  Romero added 11 but the Cougars played again without leading scorer Reece Johnson (19.9).  He’s not played since going out early in the Platte Valley loss.
Another important game in the Patriot Friday puts Strasburg on the road to Platte Valley.  The Indians were part of the second-place mix but were upset by Brush on Tuesday night (65-61).  That result dropped them to 4-2 and tied with Estes Park in fourth place.  They meet the Bobcats on February 13th but first must tangle with Platte Valley this week and Resurrection Christian next.
Platte Valley topped University 58-29 on Tuesday behind 13 points and 8 rebounds from Bryson Becker.  Cameron Gentry added 11.
The top three spots in the Metro will be impacted when Lutheran goes to Manual on Friday night.  Lutheran is 6-0 in conference play and tied with Kent Denver (5-0) in first place with Manual a game back in third (3-1).  The Thunderbolts were beaten by Kent Denver earlier this month so a loss to Lutheran likely knocks them from the championship race.
It should be a good matchup.  The Lions have won eight straight since a loss to Resurrection Christian including key league wins over Faith Christian and Machebeuf.  Manual is led by talented scorer Jaedon Bowles (22.3) and despite being held to 13 points, he still led the Thunderbolts to a critical conference win over Colorado Academy (57-51) last week.
Bowles gets help on offense from Tre D’Antre (12.9), Rayjae Fisher (7.7) and Masiah Hudson (6.8).  That group will face a veteran Lutheran club that features seniors as five of their six scorers.
Tyler Eldred (14.0) tops the list followed by Ryan Goldhammer (10.5) and Peter Gibas (10.2).  Those three also provide a combined 15 rebounds a game.  Justin Kenny (8.1) and Kole Brandon (7.0) also provide points as does junior Matt Thompson (8.5).
In the win over Faith Christian, Thompson led the team with 16 points followed by Kenney (13), Gibas (11) and Brandon (10).
Kent Denver meets Pinnacle for a non-league game of note on Wednesday night and then returns to league play with Prospect Ridge.  The date with Lutheran is set for next Tuesday.
Another non-conference game of interest is set for Saturday between Faith Christian and DSST-Stapleton.  That game will impact RPI and of course post-season bracketing should both teams qualify as expected.
DSST-Stapleton must first concentrate on a Wednesday trip to Clear Creek that will play an important role in the Frontier league standings.  Both teams have one league loss and sit tied for second one game back of unbeaten Arrupe Jesuit (8-0).
An ironic note on both teams that each has played Pinnacle in league play and both games finished 69-68 in overtime.  The difference is that Clear Creek gained the win and DSST-Stapleton suffered their only league loss.    Clear Creek’s league loss is against Arrupe Jesuit (80-70) so they must win on Tuesday to stay in the title chase.  And while the Golddiggers remain in the Frontier league chase, its worth noting again they drop into the 2A division for the post-season.
Both teams feature three double figure scorers.  The Golddiggers are led by Noah Siarra who sits in the top five statewide with over 28 points per game.  He’s scored at least 20 points in 10 of 12 games this year including a season best 40 against West Grand.  Siarra provided 20 in the win over Pinnacle.
Additional points come from the duo of Lucas Gerding (16.1) and Ben Griffin (12.5).
DSST-Stapleton counters with Vince Jones (18.0), Andray Thomas JR (12.9) and Trevaughn Maddox (10.0).  Thomas JR also leads the team with nearly nine rebounds per game.
Holding serve is the job for first place Alamosa and second place Bayfield in the Intermountain this week.  Both teams have games with third place Pagosa Springs and wins in both turn the race into a two-team battle between the Moose and Wolverines.  Both clubs picked up wins in the first meetings.  Bayfield scored a 57-50 home win over the Pirates while the Moose collected an impressive 48-26 road decision.
Alamosa (2nd) and Bayfield (9th) both sit in the top 10 of RPI so both remain in position to play the first two games of the post-season at home.  Pagosa Springs (23rd) also seems safe for a post-season bid to the 32-team field.