The Class 3A girls’ state tournament bracket that we lay out today will appear much different than versions from the previous weeks.Â That’s because we’ve learned that district champions are guaranteed the right to host the first two rounds of the state tournament only if they finish in the top 16 of RPI.
We did not include that provision in previous editions and since the champions of the Frontier and Confluence district tournaments likely won’t climb to the top 16, more at-large berths are available for a top eight seed.Â It’s now likely the runner-up and maybe the third-place team from the Tri Peaks and the second-place squad from the Intermountain could all get to play at home through the first two rounds.
In determining the entire field for Class 3A, we must first project the top two finishers in each district.Â These clubs receive automatic bids into the state tournament and the remaining 18 teams are then selected based directly on RPI.
Our current choices for automatic qualifiers are as follows:
- Pagosa Springs
Notes:Â Like in the past the top two seeds for the district tournament will be determined by the two matchups between Centauri and Pagosa Springs.Â The first meeting is Friday in Pagosa Springs.Â Game two is set for February 10th in La Jara.Â Centauri has outscored four league opponents 227-81 and Pagosa has a 262-60 advantage over the same four clubs.
- Kent Denver
Notes:Â Kent Denver and Lutheran are both unbeaten in league play and tied for the top spot with Colorado Academy.Â Kent Denver has the most wins of any league team (11) while Lutheran (6-4) has played arguably the most difficult schedule.Â The key game this week is set for Saturday as Kent Denver entertains Colorado Academy.Â The Sun Devils go to Lutheran on February 7th.Â Lutheran is favored against both Faith Christian Tuesday and Peak to Peak on Friday.Â Their meeting with Colorado Academy is on February 10th.
Notes:Â This has the makings of a very good race as Sterling, Eaton and Resurrection Christian are all 4-0 with University and Liberty Common just a game back at 2-1.Â University though has a loss to Sterling and Liberty Common fell to Resurrection Christian last week meaning both have ground to make up.Â None of the three co-leaders square off this week so the standings could remain unchanged.Â Sterling is our top choice based on tradition and how much they’ve improved since December.Â Eaton is the #2 selection as we believe they’ve played a slightly more difficult schedule than Rez Christian.Â Sterling faces Resurrection Christian on February 2nd and Eaton seven days later.Â Eaton and Rez Christian battle on the 30th.
- St Mary’s
- Colorado Springs Christian
Notes:Â Both St Mary’s and Colorado Springs Christian are legitimate state championship contenders and Lamar can also be tossed into that group.Â The defending state champions are not included in our guaranteed selections based on a loss to St Mary’s but they can change that scenario by beating Colorado Springs Christian this week.Â They tangle on Friday.Â Lamar and CSCS also battle Manitou Springs this week.Â If CSCS beats Lamar then the race likely comes down to their head-to-head meeting with St Mary’s on February 9th.Â All three clubs could host regional tournaments in late February.
Notes:Â Narrow wins are the norm for Cedaredge this year as six of their ten victories have come by single digits.Â They have plenty of challenges left on the schedule including a home game with Grand Valley this Friday.Â Game two with Delta is set for February 6th and they close the season against Moffat County in Craig on February 17th.Â Â Â Delta earns the nod for the second spot based on two closely contested battles with Cedaredge.Â They fell to the Bruins 47-43 and 41-39 with both games going to overtime.
Notes:Â Clear Creek has outscored five league opponents by 255 points and might be favored to land the league championship but since they drop into Class 2A for the post-season, they’re not considered for one of the top two guaranteed league spots.Â As a result, Bennett, which could win the championship outright, is our top choice.Â The Tigers begin the week tied with Clear Creek, Academy and Middle Park as unbeaten league clubs.Â They face Clear creek on Friday, Academy on the 30th and Middle Park on February 7th.Â Academy has the slight edge on Middle Park at this point based on a stronger schedule.
- Weld Central
- Eagle Ridge Academy
Notes:Â Stargate has the highest RPI of the teams involved (#22) but we still feel Weld Central will earn the top seed based on a stronger schedule on the 4A level.Â The Rebels are 33rd in RPI points and may need to finish in the top two at the district tournament just to make the field.Â Eagle Ridge Academy has qualified from the district before and remains our second choice.
Using RPI from Monday, we should be able to determine the remaining 18 wildcard spots, but there could be teams in the top 32 of RPI left out of the state bracket.Â Weld Central, Eagle Ridge Academy and Bennett are three of our 14 guaranteed selections but are not in the top 32 this week.Â But based on our projections, they make the field with Olathe, Strasburg and Roaring Fork the three “qualifiers” that would be bumped out.
With that in mind, here is the entire 32-team state tournament field using automatic qualifiers and RPI standings.Â Colorado Springs Christian, Pagosa Springs and Jefferson Academy are the three non-league champions who move into the top eight since two league champions are not in the top 16.Â Sterling is 12th in RPI but as a league champion in our projected bracket, the Tigers move up to the 8th spot overall.Â Â Please note the pairings will NOT be reseeded before the Elite Eight in Denver as the bracket is played all the way through from the start.
#1 St Mary’s vs #32 Bennett
#16 Liberty Common vs #17 Vanguard
#8 Sterling vs #25 Alamosa
#9 Resurrection Christian vs #24 Buena Vista
#4 Kent Denver vs #29 Academy
#13 Manitou Springs vs #20 Grand Valley
#5 Colorado Springs Christian vs #28 Brush
#12 Colorado Academy vs #21 Lutheran (could be changed to avoid conference matchup)
#3 Centauri vs #30 Weld Central
#14 Eaton vs #19 St Mary’s Academy
#6 Pagosa Springs vs #27 Faith Christian
#11 Delta vs #22 Stargate
#7 Jefferson Academy vs #26 Coal Ridge
#10 Lamar vs #23 University
#2 Cedaredge vs #31 Eagle Ridge Academy
#15 Moffat County vs #18 Salida