As we’ve done the last few years, Colorado Preps will spend the last two weeks of the season breaking down conference races and going through the most important games left in each league. We start the coverage by running through Class 3A boys.
The conference last week underwent a major change as Bayfield lost a two-game lead and now sits a game back of Centauri in the standings. The Wolverines lost twice to Centauri and then came up short in overtime to Montezuma Cortez. All those results leave Centauri (5-2) alone in first with Bayfield and Montezuma Cortez in second (5-3). Alamosa (4-4) also remains in the chase for a top two finish.
Centauri has two games this week as they host Montezuma Cortez and then visit Alamosa on Saturday. Wins in both will give them the championship and top district seed. The Falcons also play Monte Vista next week. The finale will be meaningless to the title chase if the Falcons take care of business this week.
Bayfield has two home games with Monte Vista and Pagosa Springs on Friday – Saturday. Since they’ve lost both games to Centauri, the Wolverines likely need to win out and get help from others to win the title outright. Montezuma Cortez also goes to Monte Vista one day after visiting Centauri.
There’s also a possibility of a three-way for the title. That could occur on Friday night if Bayfield beats Monte Vista and Cortez takes out Centauri. All three teams would have three league losses going into Saturday. Bayfield, Cortez and Alamosa all close out conference play this weekend but as mentioned, Centauri has one more game next week.
Manual (8-0) is alone atop the standings and basically has one more hurdle before winning the championship outright. That hurdle is next week as they meet Lutheran on the 13th. The Lions are tied with Faith Christian in second place (both with one loss) so they remain in the title chase. Lutheran though has a tough test with Colorado Academy on Friday and a loss there likely takes them out of the championship picture. In that scenario, Manual clinches at least a tie for the league title with wins over Stargate on Wednesday and Skyview Academy on Friday. The Thunderbolts will be heavily favored in both.
Thanks to a win over Lutheran, Faith Christian is in good shape for second place but they too have a difficult game left on their schedule. The Eagles close their league schedule against Kent Denver on the 12th. They’ll have a full week to prepare as the Eagles win over Peak to Peak on Tuesday night is in their only conference game this week. Kent Denver scored a big win over Colorado Academy last week so the Sun Devils, despite key injuries, probably locked up a top four league finish.
Sterling clinched the league championship by beating Platte Valley on Tuesday. The Tigers have a one game edge and a win over second place Resurrection Christian going into the conference finale with University on Friday. So, win or lose, Sterling is the number one seed for the district tournament.
With Sterling’s win, Resurrection Christian also nailed down second place as they cruised past Frontier Academy. The Cougars have two conference games left (Liberty Common and Estes Park) but results from Tuesday give the Cougars a two-game edge on Platte Valley, University and Eaton. The Cougars have beaten all three teams so they have the edge in any tiebreaker if they collapse and drop their final two games; which is not expected.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Platte Valley remains in the drivers’ seat for third place. They head to the weekend tied with Eaton and University but since the Broncos have beaten both the Bulldogs and Reds, they’re the third-place team by winning their final two games. They face Valley on Friday and then Brush next Tuesday.
Eaton also has a win over University so the Reds are the fourth-place squad by beating Frontier Academy on Friday and Liberty Common next Tuesday. University also faces Sterling on Friday so that gives another edge to Eaton in the race for fourth.
Vanguard is very close to clinching the championship. The Coursers (9-0) have a two-game edge in the loss column over Colorado Springs Christian (8-2), St Mary’s (8-2) and Lamar (6-2). They’ve beaten all three second place teams so one more win gives the title to Vanguard. The Coursers meet Salida and James Irwin yet this week and then face Manitou Springs on the 12th so there’s a good chance they end up with a perfect 12-0 run through the conference.
Second place could be an interesting race as Colorado Springs Christian beat St Mary’s, St Mary’s beat Lamar and Lamar has a win over Colorado Springs Christian. If all three teams win out, they will share second place and tiebreakers will be needed to determine spots two through four in the district tournament.
Of the second-place teams, Lamar has the most work to do as the Savages still have four conference games left. They face Trinidad, James Irwin and Salida on three consecutive nights starting on Thursday and then have the annual rivalry game with La Junta on the 12th. They’ll be favored against Trinidad but none of the last three are seen as an easy win.
So, if Lamar drops a game, then Colorado Springs Christian becomes the favorite for second place as they have the tiebreaker over St Mary’s. The Lions are heavily favored in their last two games against Ellicott on Friday and Florence next Tuesday. St Mary’s picked up a quality road win at La Junta earlier this week and they finish league play with Ellicott on Saturday and James Irwin next week.
Going into the final 10 days of the regular season, there’s a lot to be decided. Delta (6-0) is alone in first with a one-game edge on Gunnison (6-1), Grand Valley (5-1) and Roaring Fork (4-1). Since the Panthers have posted earlier wins over Grand Valley and Roaring Fork, the battle with Gunnison on the 14th is the most important remaining game on the conference schedule. Two other important games left include Gunnison at Grand Valley this Friday and Grand Valley against Roaring Fork on the 14th. All three games will greatly impact the league championship and top four seeds for the district tournament.
If Grand Valley knocks off Gunnison this week, then Delta clinches the championship by beating Aspen on Saturday. If Gunnison wins on Friday, then their battle with Delta will determine the overall champion. Scenarios for second place are numerous at this point but will clear up a bit more with results from this weekend.
Based on remaining schedule, it appears DSST-Stapleton will win the championship. The Knights (9-0) are unbeaten in league play and have wins over second-place Academy and third-place KIPP Collegiate. Those two teams are one and two games off the pace respectively. DSST-Stapleton has two league games remaining but they will be favored to easily get by Sheridan on Thursday and Platte Canyon on Saturday.
Academy can lock down second place with a win over Jefferson on Thursday or Arrupe Jesuit on Saturday. The Wildcats have the tiebreaker over KIPP since they won the head-to-head meeting. KIPP basically clinched third by beating Middle Park last week as they have just one league game left against Lake County this week.
This race is far from over as the league leaders have yet to square off. DSST-Byers (5-0) is alone in first by one game over DSST-Green Valley and Ridgeview Academy but they face both second-place teams in the final week. They meet Green Valley on the 11th and Ridgeview on the 13th. Green Valley has the edge on Ridgeview as they won the conference meeting 59-52 on January 10th.
Regardless of league and district results, the conference will likely get only two teams into the 32-team state tournament. DSST-Byers (31st) is the highest rated team in RPI. Green Valley is only 45th and Ridgeview Academy is 60th. The league will also be challenged by Englewood, Fort Lupton and Riverdale Ridge who come into the district from the Class 4A Colorado 8. Of that group, Fort Lupton is the highest ranked in RPI at #40.
RPI STANDINGS – FEBRUARY 6TH
- Kent Denver
- Resurrection Christian
- Faith Christian
- Coal Ridge
- Colorado Springs Christian
- Montezuma Cortez
- Colorado Academy
- St Mary’s
- Pagosa Springs
- Grand Valley
- Roaring Fork
- Platte Valley
- Jefferson Academy
- Frontier Academy
- Middle Park
- La Junta
- Manitou Springs
- Peak to Peak
- KIPP Collegiate
- Fort Lupton