Sixteen first round winners collide on Saturday with a trip to the state tournament on the line.Â That’s the schedule in 3A girls’ basketball regional tournament this week and we preview all 32-teams still in the field.
REGION ONE – Kent Denver High School
7:00pm:Â #1 Kent Denver (19-3) vs #32 Eagle Ridge Academy (12-9)
5:00pm:Â #16 Resurrection Christian (17-5) vs #17 Delta (15-7)
Kent Denver used a win over Lutheran in the district tournament and losses by St Mary’s and Centauri last week to claim the top overall seed in the state tournament.Â The Sun Devils have won five straight since a regular loss to Lutheran and other setbacks came early against Manitou Springs and 4A Thomas Jefferson.
Julia Doyle triggers the Sun Devils on both ends of the court.Â The senior scores a team best 16.6 points per game but also leads the team with 4.6 steals.Â Stepping up her offense even more down the stretch, Doyle has six straight double-figure efforts including three games of at least 21 points.Â She’s also recorded 11 steals against Manual and 10 vs DSST-Stapleton this year.
Eagle Ridge Academy is the 32-team field for the third time in four years but they’re hoping for a much better showing this season.Â They missed out last year but fell to Moffat County 88-12 two years ago and Lutheran 85-17 three years ago.Â Sophomores Cydnee Collins and Jackie Alvarez-Gordillo both average eight points per game.
Resurrection Christian continues to grow their program.Â Two years ago, the Cougars won just six games but that number jumped to 15 last year and is already at 17 this year.Â Juju Hemeyer is a major reason for the improvement. She averaged 15 points per game as a freshman and has matched that total again as a sophomore.Â Resurrection Christian enters the weekend with back-to-back losses in the Patriot tournament.Â They fell to Eaton in double overtime in the semifinals and then came up short to University (49-43) in the third-place game.
Delta also dropped their final two games in their district tournament falling to Moffat County (45-29) and Cedaredge (45-36) last Friday and Saturday.Â The Panthers have a young roster with just one senior among their top 11 scorers.Â That veteran is Aubrey Jones who is second on the team with 9.6 points.Â She trails sophomore Sara Geddes (12.3) and is slightly ahead of junior Melissa Webb (9.0).Â Keeley Porter (6.8) and Jenna Sutliff (6.7) combine for 13 points.
REGION EIGHT – Moffat County High School
7:00pm:Â #8 Moffat County (17-5) vs #25 Machebeuf (13-10)
5:00pm:Â #9 Lutheran (17-5) vs #24 Academy (15-7)
Moffat County is the host team but Lutheran is likely considered the favorite to advance from the bracket.Â The Lions won the 3A MetroÂ regular season crown and ended up second to Kent Denver in the district tournament.Â They are 7th in RPI.Â Moffat County shared the Western Slope title with three other clubs but survived to win the district title and land a host site for this weekend.Â The Bulldogs are 11th in RPI.
Lutheran’s lineup is a nice mix of veterans and newcomers.Â Senior Hayley Shaklee (13.2) and junior Kate Webster (11.8) are the first two options and each has played in past state tournaments.Â Freshman Stephanie Schultz (8.9) provides spark in the fast break game and pressure defense and sophomore Sara Larson chips in five points and four rebounds per game.
Academy is one of two district champions that did not earn the right to host a regional tournament this year.Â Neither the Wildcats nor Weld Central (Confluence) did not finish in the top 16 of RPI and thus are on the road this weekend.
The Wildcats beat Lake County, Bennett and Middle Park last week to win the Frontier crown.Â They are balanced offensively with four players between seven and nine points per game.Â Katelyn Marcus, with 12, led the way in the district championship win over Middle Park.
The Lions had won 13 straight before last week’s loss to Kent Denver.Â Other losses against 3A rivals came very early against Monte Vista, St Mary’s and Manitou Springs.
Moffat County is 8-2 over their last ten games so they may be playing their best basketball of the season.Â Jana Camilletti averages 10.9 points per game to lead the offense.Â Kinlie Brennise is next with nine points and Brooke Gumber chips in seven.Â Camilletti produced 33 points in three district games and Brennise totaled 36 including 21 in the championship win over Grand Valley.Â Gumber added 24 points and 25 rebounds in the three wins.
Machebeuf won four straight games twice this year but otherwise has been battled inconsistency.Â Their most recent four game streak came against Faith Christian, Peak to Peak, Skyview Academy and Manual but they’ve dropped three of five since.Â In district play, they lost to Colorado Academy (39-24) in the quarterfinals before beating Skyview Academy (37-34) in the consolation bracket.Â They ended tournament play with a 48-34 loss to Jefferson Academy.Â Adet Mabeny paces the Buffs in points (11.6) and rebounds (7.8).
REGION FIVE – Centauri High School
7:30pm:Â #5 Centauri (19-2) vs #28 Stargate (12-10)
6:00pm:Â #12 Manitou Springs (14-8) vs #21 Faith Christian (10-12)
In the top five of statewide rankings the entire season, Centauri is heavily favored to advance from this bracket. Â Tradition rich Manitou Springs and Faith Christian sit opposite in the bracket but with a veteran lineup and playing at home, the Falcons will be favored against each.
Up first though is a first-round date with Stargate.Â The Falcons are a school based in Thornton playing in just their second year of varsity basketball.Â They’ve lost four of their last five and do not have a win over a team that made the 32-team tournament field.Â Scoring 15 points per game, Madisyn Rich is the Falcons top player.
Centauri ended a six-game winning streak with last week’s district championship loss to Pagosa Springs. They trailed 31-17 at halftime and a big fourth quarter, where Centauri outscored the Pirates 19-8, fell short.Â Caroline Van Berkum led the way with 11 points, Ember Canty added nine and Alyssa Gomez eight.Â All three are seniors and they’re seeking a fourth consecutive state tournament trip. Junior Melissa Wilson is another key player for the Falcons and hit big shots in the regular season win over Pagosa Springs.
Manitou Springs and Faith Christian both finished fourth in their respective conference during the regular season.Â The Mustangs spent last weekend on the consolation side of the Tri Peaks tournament following a quarterfinal loss to Salida.Â Faith Christian went a different route.Â They edged Jefferson Academy (28-25) in their quarterfinal but then dropped back-to-back games against Lutheran and Colorado Academy.
Pace could be important as Manitou Springs averages 47 points a game compared to just 34 for Faith Christian.Â The Mustangs also feature two double digit scorers in Maren Mildestvedt (16.5) and Caileen Sienknecht (12.3) while Faith Christian is led by Ashely Finch (8.4).Â Finch leads Faith Christian in rebounds (7.5) while Sienknecht tops Manitou in that category (8.5).
REGION FOUR – Colorado Springs Christian High School
5:30pm:Â #4 Colorado Springs Christian (19-3) vs #29 Brush (13-10)
7:00pm:Â #13 Eaton (17-5) vs #20 St Mary’s Academy (13-9)
Colorado Springs Christian and Eaton both finished second in their respective conference in regular season play but results were different in district tournament action last week.Â The Lions avenged a regular season loss to St Mary’s by downing the Pirates 35-34 for the Tri Peaks crown.Â Eaton dropped a second contest to Sterling and settled for second in the Patriot district event last Saturday.
Other than St Mary’s, losses for Colorado Springs Christian came against Pueblo West and Fruita Monument who are the top seeds in the 4A and 5A state tournaments.Â In other words, they’re battle tested.Â Megan Engesser (21.2) and Rachel Ingram (15.0) continue to lead the Lions in scoring and they combined for 25 points against St Mary’s last week.Â Katie McGrath also chipped in eight points and could be a crucial third scorer for the Lions this weekend.
Brush often rotates 10-11 players during a game so they will likely run a lot of players at Engesser and Ingram to spread fouls and keep defenders fresh.Â Senior Maddie Rule paces the Brush offense with 11 points per game and five others chip in at least four.
Eaton captured 11 straight wins from December 16th through February 2nd.Â Since that stretch, the Reds are 2-3 with two losses to Sterling including last week’s 45-32 decision in the district finals.Â Bailie Duncan (10.2) is the lone double figure scorer and Addie Randel is next (8.2).Â Three other average between five and seven.
St Mary’s Academy gets a good share of points from the tandem of Raegan Rychecky (13.8) and Darby Kelley (10.1).Â Rychecky also provides 10 rebounds a game and compiled eight double-doubles on the season.Â Number eight came last week against Jefferson Academy where she finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
REGION TWO – Pagosa Springs High School
6:00pm:Â #2 Pagosa Springs (18-3) vs #31 Middle Park (16-6)
8:00pm:Â #15 Grand Valley (15-7) vs #18 University (17-5)
Pagosa Springs climbed to second in the bracket due to their district championship win over Centauri (48-42) last Saturday.Â It was the third meeting between the long-time rivals and the Pirates took the series 2-1 this year.Â They cannot meet again unless they square off in the state championship or third place contest next week.
The Pirates have faced many of the top teams in the state with mixed results.Â They lost to Colorado Springs Christian (40-19) and St Mary’s (49-32) before Christmas but also beat Sterling (30-23).Â The Pirates also handled 2A district champion Ignacio (56-30) late in the season.
Morgan Lewis tops the Pirates in scoring (17.8) and rebounding (9.5) and is one of the best players in Class 3A.Â But how far the Pirates go in the playoffs will likely be determined by the rest of the roster.Â Others need to make shots and provide points so defenses cannot completely focus on slowing down Lewis.
The list includes Devin Wilson (7.6), Taylor Lewis (6.8), Ada Peshlaki (5.7) and Hailey Griego (5.2).Â Wilson and Griego both scored 10 in last week’s crucial win over Centauri and Peshlaki dropped in six.
Grand Valley is very similar to Pagosa.Â The Cards feature talented junior Shaya Chenoweth who averages 22.6 points per game but no other player scores more than eight.Â Jordyn Pittman is second in scoring (7.8) and has reached double figures in six games.
The Cardinals cannot focus completely on Pagosa Springs as they face a stern test with University on Friday.Â The Bulldogs may be better known for their volleyball program but the basketball team is starting to catch up.Â They ended up fourth in the Patriot league and matched that finish in the district tournament.Â Two of their losses are against Sterling by six points apiece, and they also played well in an early four-point loss to Kent Denver.
Madelyn Malm (11.0) tops the University scoring list but Kylie Kravig (10.9) and Taylor Gollhofer (9.9) are a very close second and third.Â Kravig is a very talented freshman point guard and Gollhofer is difficult to defend on the block.
Middle Park is in the same exact position as a year ago.Â They were 16-6 through the district tournament and then lost to Faith Christian in the first round of the regional tournament.Â The Panthers must upset Pagosa Springs to avoid seeing a repeat of that scenario.Â Middle Park finished second in the Frontier during both the regular season and district tournament.Â Eight players average between four and eight points per game.
REGION SEVEN – Sterling High School
2:00pm:Â #7 Sterling (17-5) vs #26 Weld Central (17-5)
4:00pm:Â #10 Lamar (18-4) vs #23 Alamosa (14-8)
Sterling and Lamar are favored to get wins on Friday and if that happens, it sets up a major showdown of traditional powers in the round of 16.Â The Savages are the defending state champion and last faced the Tigers in a 2015 regional final.Â Sterling won that contest 33-26.
Lamar’s only losses are against Centauri, St Mary’s, and Colorado Springs Christian twice.Â They lost to Centauri by 17 points before Christmas but the remaining three games were all decided by single digits.Â Cali Clark is the team leader in scoring (16.5), rebounding (12.3) and blocked shots (2.0).Â Brecken Payne is a very good second option on the inside as the junior scores 14 points with over six rebounds per game.Â Cassie Forgue is almost to double figures in scoring (9.9) and has hit 50 treys on the season.
Earlier this season, Sterling was 2-4 on the season but has won 15 of their last 16 games.Â They again ran the table to win both the Patriot regular season and district tournament titles and now sit just two wins away from another state tournament visit.Â Senior Brooke Polenz is among the best shooters in the class and leads the Tigers with 11.7 points and is second with 22 treys.Â Kyndal Feather has 23 three-pointers and is second in scoring at 9.1.Â Lauryn Luft chips in nine points and 8.5 rebounds.
Weld Central is also a district champion as they knocked off Eagle Ridge Academy (40-27) to capture the Confluence title.Â But their overall RPI prevented them from gaining a regional tournament at home.Â Two of the Rebels five losses are against Patriot league teams as they came up short to Brush (53-33) and Eaton (66-37).Â They also have wins over league members Estes Park, Valley and Platte Valley.
Two freshmen will be the focus of the Sterling defense as Kaydee Sims and Sydnie Pelver combine for 20 points and 16 rebounds per game.
Alamosa has faced a tough schedule with three losses to Pagosa Springs and two to Centauri inside the Intermountain.Â The Moose also fell short to St Mary’s and 4A rivals Palmer Ridge and Canon City outside the league.Â Slyvie Caton (10.2) is the only double-digit scorer but Lily Lavier (9.4) is close.
REGION SIX – Cedaredge High School
7:00pm:Â #6 Cedaredge (19-3) vs #27 Liberty Common (12-10)
5:00pm: #11 Jefferson Academy (16-6) vs #22 Vanguard (14-8)
Cedaredge did not win their district tournament but their overall season was easily good enough for the Bruins to land a regional tournament site.Â They opened the season at 10-0 and entered the final week of the season with just one loss before splitting their final four games.Â In districts, the Bruins lost to Grand Valley in the semifinals (31-26) but took out Delta (45-36) for third place.
Coach Ryan Hilbig’s team relies on defense to get victories as they average just 39.7 points per game.Â Courtney Freeman (9.4) and Makayla Kehmeier (6.6) are the top two scorers but they also combine for over five steals per game.
Liberty Common scores 44 points a game so we expect a lower scoring contest on Friday.Â The Eagles get just over ten points per game from the duo of Samantha Tsiouvaras and Anne Dutton.Â Those two helped the Eagles grab a fifth-place finish in both the Patriot regular season and district tournament.
Winners in four of their last five, Jefferson Academy is playing well heading into the 32-team bracket.Â The Jaguars fell to Faith Christian in the district quarterfinals but bounced back for wins over St Mary’s Academy and Machebeuf to land fifth place.Â They had also beaten Colorado Academy and Stargate, both tournament entrants, in the final week of the regular season.Â The roster is deep for JA as ten players score between three and seven points a game.
Vanguard has won four of their last six including a narrow 40-39 win over Florence for seventh place in the Tri Peaks district tournament.Â The Coursers have played just one Metro opponent on the season and that resulted in a 55-52 win back on December 5th.Â Alexis Garcia (20) and Bre Swann (16) combined for 36 points in the win and those two have led the Coursers on many nights.Â Garcia averages a team best 14.8 per game and Swann is second at 7.9.Â Another key contributor is Mia Jackson with 7 points and almost 11 rebounds a night.
REGION THREE – St Mary’s High School
7:00pm:Â #3 St Mary’s (21-1) vs #30 Roaring Fork (11-9)
5:00pm:Â #14 Colorado Academy (15-7) vs #19 Salida (12-11)
Ranked #1 much of the season, St Mary’s dropped into the third seed following their loss to Colorado Springs Christian in the Tri Peaks district championship.Â It was their first setback of the season but they remain one of the strong contenders for the state crown.
The Pirates feature good depth across the board but their leader is sophomore point guard Josephine Howery.Â She averages over 14 points a game and has reached double figures in all but two games this year.Â Howery totaled 15 points in the loss to CSCS and also netted 16 in the first matchup with the Lions where the Pirates rallied from a double digit first quarter deficit to post the win.
Makenna Bodette is second in scoring (12.0) and first in rebounding (7.0).Â Seneca Hackley (10.0), Mary Cummings (8.9) and Brooklyn Valdez (6.1) also contribute on the offensive end.
With just one senior on the roster, Roaring Fork is a young squad that will gain valuable experience this weekend.Â They’ve won back-to-back games only three times this season and will need to match that with two upsets to advance.Â Logan Erickson (11.9) is the leading scorer and Gabriela Santana (8.7), Kendall Bernot (7.1) and Emily Broadhurst (7.0) provide balance.
The second matchup between Colorado Academy and Salida could be one of the better first round pairings on Friday.Â The Mustangs finished third in the Metro and Salida fifth in the rugged Tri Peaks.
The Spartans earned an upset of Manitou Springs in the Tri Peaks quarterfinals but then came up short to St Mary’s and Lamar over the weekend.Â Alejandra Godina (10.6) and Bailey Golden (9.4) lead the Spartans offense.Â Colorado Academy counters with the tandem of Story Wolf-Tinsman (10.2) and Kyra Kurtz (10.1).