With wins on Tuesday night, Lutheran and Vanguard became the first two teams in Class 3A to clinch league championships.  Several more teams get a chance to join them as conference champions with wins later this week.
Lutheran collected an exciting 59-56 win over Kent Denver as both teams entered the conference without a conference loss.  The Lions (8-0) now have a one game edge on the Sun Devils (6-1) and with only one league game remaining, Lutheran wrapped up the championship.
IT was the 11th straight win for the Lions who remain unbeaten since Christmas.  Tyler Eldred and Matt Thompson both scored 19 points and Thompson added a team best 13 rebounds.  Eldred knocked in four three-pointers and the Lions also outscored Kent Denver 13-3 at the foul line.
James Doyle netted 22 points and Coby Gold 13 for Kent Denver.  Despite the loss, the Sun Devils remain in good shape to land the runner-up spot as they’ve already beaten both third-place squads Manual and Colorado Academy.  Colorado Academy goes to Lutheran on Saturday in another important game for the spots behind the league champions.
Vanguard held off Manitou Springs 63-55 on Tuesday to remain perfect in the Tri Peaks.  The win kept them two games up on St Mary’s and Colorado Springs Christian atop the standings and since the Coursers have beaten both and have two just games left on the league slate, they’re the champions and top district seed.
St Mary’s and Colorado Springs Christian square off Thursday in the game that should determine second place.  Both clubs are 7-2 and one game up on Salida and Lamar.  Salida and Lamar also meet on Saturday so positions two through five should clear up a bit with the results.
Colorado Springs Christian beat St Mary’s twice last season; 55-33 in the regular season and again in the district tournament (69-38).  The Lions have won three straight in league play with all three by double digits.  Noah Hopkins (15.1) continues to lead the club in scoring but Kolby Walker (14.6) and Brandon Pitt (10.4) are two more double digit scorers.
The Pirates feature four players with at least 12 points per game.  That includes Tyler Englert (12.6) who has played just nine games this season.  He’s in double figures in the last six.  Gabe Calhoun (13.6) leads the scoring chart and also pulls down eight rebounds per game.  Camden Raedel (12.9) and Draven Hackley (12.0) are also productive on the offensive end.
Arrupe Jesuit (10-0) leads DSST-Stapleton (9-1) by one game in the Frontier and the two clubs collide on Wednesday.  Arrupe has just one league game remaining after Wednesday (Pinnacle) so the Generals wrap up the crown with a win.  DSST-Stapleton plays Lake County next Tuesday and the Knights must win both games to secure another league title.
The Generals (16-1) have just one loss overall and are under the statewide radar quite a bit.  They’ve won their last 14 including a solid 65-56 win over Platte Valley back in December.
Elijah Chavez scored 30 points in that win and made six of ten shots from beyond the arc.  He leads the team in scoring overall (17.1).  Eric Dawson (12.6) also has a 30-point game on his resume this year while Magdial Apadaca (11.9) is coming off a season best 23 points in Saturday’s win over Platte Canyon.
DSST-Stapleton has suffered two overtime losses over the past couple of weeks; falling to Pinnacle and Faith Christian by a combined three points.  Both losses were extremely frustrating.  The Knights ended a perfect conference run against Pinnacle and then gave up a 13-point fourth quarter lead to Faith Christian.  DSST led 36-17 at halftime but were outscored 32-19 in the final eight minutes.
Academy took over sole possession of third place by beating Pinnacle on Tuesday.  They have an important game with Clear Creek next week that could help determine third place.  Pinnacle can play the role of spoiler when they line up against Arrupe Jesuit on Saturday.
Top ranked Sterling grabs another Patriot title by beating Eaton on Thursday night.  The Tigers are unbeaten in league play and have a one game edge on Platte Valley plus they’ve already beaten the second place Broncos.   Platte Valley is in the same boat for second place.  They lead Resurrection Christian by one game and has a win over the Cougars.  The Broncos are home to Valley on Friday and then go to Brush next Tuesday.
The most important game inside the conference is Thursday in Loveland as Resurrection Christian entertains Strasburg.  Those two are battling with Estes Park for third place and that’s a key race as the winner is likely opposite Sterling in the district bracket.
Resurrection Christian recovered from a tough loss to Sterling last week by handling University 66-32 on Tuesday.  Even better news for the Cougars was the return of Reece Johnson.  Out for several weeks due to an ankle injury, he returned to the lineup and scored 18 points against University.  Jackson Romero also dropped in 18 for the winners who now appear to be at full speed for the post-season run.
Strasburg also plays Estes Park next Tuesday so the Indians control their own future.  Two wins get them to third but two losses could tumble them down to sixth.  They’re led offensively by the tandem of Brock Lane (16.6) and Jacob Miller (16.1).
The Indians are also on RPI watch.  With new numbers posted before games on Tuesday, they were in the top eight and in position to host a regional tournament.  Two more wins in regular season and a strong showing in the district tournament could keep them there.
Alamosa kept their one game advantage over Bayfield in the Intermountain chase by beating Monte Vista 55-28 Tuesday night.  The Moose have just one game remaining in the regular season and that’s a meeting with Bayfield on February 15th.  The Wolverines have a game with Montezuma Cortez on Saturday and that outcome will have a bearing on the importance of their regular season finale with Alamosa.  If Bayfield wins this week, they remain in the title chase but a loss eliminates them and gives the championship to the Moose.
Montezuma Cortez also goes to Pagosa Springs on Friday and both games are important to the Panthers.  Wins in both keep them in line for a possible piece of the runner-up spot.  They’re two games back of Bayfield and one back of Pagosa Springs but wins in both this week and a loss by Bayfield to Alamosa leaves all three teams with four league losses.
Game one between the two clubs went to Pagosa Springs 53-49.  Isaiah Griego, Jesus Pacheco and Keaton Laverty all scored 13 for the Pirates.  Griego and Laverty also grabbed a combined 12 rebounds.  The Pirates also have momentum from last week’s win over Bayfield (53-39).  Griego went for 9 points and 15 rebounds offset 27 points and 11 rebounds from Bayfield’s Ryan Phelps.  Pacheco scored 18 and Mason Snarr added 10 vs Bayfield.
Delta goes to Roaring Fork on Saturday in the most important Western Slope game.  The Rams (5-1) trail first place Coal Ridge (6-0) by one game while Delta (5-3) is battling several teams for the third and fourth spots.
The Rams topped Delta 59-47 on January 5th in non-league play.  Joe Salinas hit four three-pointers and finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds.  Justin Thompson also put together a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.  Those two are very important to the Rams success combining for 35 points a game on average.  Thompson (20.4) has scored at least 13 points in every game including a season high 29 vs Moffat County.  Salinas registered 32 points against Weld Central and has reached double in all but three games.
Delta received 16 points from Jaspar Carmichael and 11 from Logan Freed in the first meeting.  Those two combine for 30 points a game for the season and are the only two Panthers scoring in double figures.
Coal Ridge is home to Aspen on Friday and then close the league schedule with Olathe and Gunnison next week.  They need wins in two to land the league championship.
Still some work left to determine the league champion in the Confluence.  DSST-Green Valley (3-0) leads Eagle Ridge Academy (3-1), Lotus (2-1) and Ridgeview Academy (2-1) going into the weekend.  The Raptors have already beaten Eagle Ridge but goes to Lotus on Thursday and then hosts Ridgeview next week.
In another note important to post-season play, CHSAA has reversed course on the use of RPI through the post-season.  In a memo sent to schools last week, CHSAA indicated RPI standings would be final at the end of regular season play and not updated in the post-season.  That decision has been reversed and now the RPI standings will be updated through district tournaments and then used to determine qualifiers and seed the 32-team 3A state tournament bracket.