Entering the final week of regular season action, about the only two things left to decide in 3A girls’ basketball are crowning champions in the Confluence and Western Slope conferences. One game could determine the Confluence crown but the Western Slope features four teams within one game of the league lead going into the final weekend.
We break down each conference race and start to set up district tournament brackets as some post-season games will be conducted this Saturday. We also use RPI standings from Monday February 12th at 2:00pm to project a potential state tournament field.
Eagle Ridge Academy (4-0) appears in good position to land another conference championship. They win the title by beating DSST-College View on Tuesday night. An opposite result could leave the two teams tied with DSST-Green Valley for the top spot.
The first-place Warriors are the only league team in top 50 of the RPI and they sit 40th. They will likely battle Weld Central (28th) for the district championship as the Rebels drop in from the 4A Colorado 7 for the district tournament.
Clear Creek clinched the league crown by beating Middle Park last week but the Golddiggers won’t be the number one seed for the district tournament. They drop into the 2A division for the post-season and will be challenged by the likes of Highland and Denver Christian for the district seven championship.
So, despite last week’s loss, Middle Park will be the number one seed for the district event. The Panthers are 10-1 in league play and have already beaten Bennett and Academy head-to-head. The Tigers and Wildcats (9-2) share third place but Bennett has the advantage for the second seed based on their conference win over Academy. The Tigers earn the spot officially by beating Bruce Randolph on the road Tuesday.
Academy will then be the third seed and Arrupe Jesuit will end up fourth in the bracket.
No league team is within range of a top 16 finish in RPI so the district champion will be on the road for the first two rounds of the state tournament. And it’s a good chance that only the top two finishers in the district tournament, which earn automatic berths, will make the state tournament field. Academy (34th) is the highest ranked team in the RPI with Bennett 37th and Middle Park 39th. Arrupe Jesuit is 48th.
Centauri and Pagosa Springs split two regular season games and the long-time rivals again share the conference title. Both finished the league schedule at 9-1. Centauri earns the number one seed based on a point differential in the two head-to-head meetings and like their two league matchups, that race was also very tight. Pagosa Springs won the first meeting 40-32 and Centauri took the second 46-35 to earn the top seed.
The order shouldn’t matter as neither Centauri nor Pagosa Springs was challenged by any other league member so there’s a great chance the Falcons and Pirates will tangle for a third time in the district final.
Alamosa is the third seed and Bayfield the fourth. They meet for a second time on Thursday but the outcome will not impact the district tournament bracket.
Centauri (2nd) and Pagosa Springs (5th) are both very strong in the RPI and both are in position to host regional tournaments. Alamosa is 22nd in RPI and likely the only other league team that will be invited to the post-season.
The top three seeds for the district tournament are set. Lutheran won the championship and top seed by beating Kent Denver last Wednesday. The Lions close at St Mary’s Academy on Tuesday. Kent Denver and Colorado Academy have locked up second and third but both are involved in important games this week that will impact fourth place. Kent Denver meets Machebeuf on Thursday and Colorado Academy faces Jefferson Academy on Tuesday.
Jefferson Academy and Machebeuf are tied with Faith Christian for fourth place. All three teams are 5-4 and if the Jaguars and Buffs come up short against opponents ahead of them in the standings, then Faith Christian gets fourth with a win over Manual. That game is Monday night.
Kent Denver is third in the RPI and should be at home for the first two rounds of the state tournament. Lutheran is 10th and can also host if they land a district tournament title. If not, the Lions may be on the road even as a regular season conference champion.
Colorado Academy (13th) and Jefferson Academy (14th) are both in the RPI Top 16 with St Mary’s Academy and Faith Christian also back-to-back at numbers 19 and 20. Machebeuf (24th) is also safely in the field.
The key remaining game is Tuesday night between Eaton and University. Eaton has already wrapped up second place behind Sterling but University needs the win to secure fourth. The Bulldogs (6-3) are one game up on Brush and Liberty Common (both 5-4). Both Brush and Liberty Common are favored to win on Tuesday against Platte Valley and Valley so a University loss creates a three-way tie for fourth.
In that scenario, Brush beat University but lost to Liberty Common and Liberty Common beat Brush so a points system will be needed to determine placement in the district tournament bracket.
Sterling has clinched the championship and will have a make up game with Estes Park this week. They also challenge Lutheran on the road Friday. Resurrection Christian is the third-place team and closes with Frontier Academy.
Sterling (7th), Resurrection Christian (11th) and Eaton (12th) are all eligible to host a regional tournament by winning the district tournament. Sterling could also host as a wildcard if they fall short based on what happens in other brackets.
University (23rd) and Brush (25th) should make the state tournament field as well. Liberty Common (31st) is on the bubble and need to move up to avoid being bumped by automatic qualifiers from the Frontier and Confluence conferences that are behind them in the RPI.
St Mary’s rallied from 13 points down in the first quarter to stun Colorado Springs Christian 44-41 last Friday. That win gave the Pirates the league championship and top district seed. They have two non-league games on tap this week against Alamosa and Liberty Common.
CSCS finishes league play with Florence on Tuesday but the Lions have clinched second place. Lamar is the third seed and Manitou Springs will be fourth in the bracket. There are several scenarios for spots five through eight with either Vanguard or the Buena Vista-Salida winner ending up fifth.
Vanguard has conference games with Trinidad and Rye and wins in both get them to fifth if Buena Vista beats Salida. The Spartans though climb to fifth by beating Buena Vista and then Vanguard ends up fourth. Those scenarios all involve CSCS beating Florence.
St Mary’s is tops in RPI so the Pirates will host a regional tournament regardless of how they fare in the district tournament. Colorado Springs Christian is 6th and Lamar 8th in RPI this week so their potential district semifinal rematch could have a huge bearing on if one or both host regional events.
Manitou Springs (9th) is also in that running and an upset of St Mary’s if they meet the Pirates in the semifinals could get them there. Regardless of placement in the state tournament bracket, the league has an excellent chance to getting four teams into the final eight.
Vanguard is 17th and Salida 21st in RPI so the Coursers and Spartans should be making plans for the state tournament. Florence (30th) and Buena Vista (33rd) are on the bubble and probably need to move into the top 28 to be safely in as teams 29th through 32nd in the RPI could be bumped by automatic qualifiers lower in the standings.
While every other conference has decided their top four spots, this race is wide open and won’t be decided until the final two days of the regular season. Cedaredge, Moffat County and Delta share first place with identical 6-1 records and Grand Valley (5-2) is only one game back. Moffat County has the most difficult closing stretch as they face Delta on Friday and Cedaredge on Saturday. Delta also goes to Grand Valley on Saturday. Cedaredge also meets Roaring Fork on Friday and will be heavily favored there.
If Cedaredge and Moffat County both win on Friday, then the winner of their game on Saturday will determine the championship. If Cedaredge and Delta both win on Friday, then Cedaredge is the champion by beating Moffat County regardless of the outcome between Delta and Grand Valley. Delta can only land the title with two wins if Cedaredge suffers at least one loss.
Cedaredge is 4th in RPI standings and is in tremendous shape to host a regional tournament. The Bruins will do so with a district title but could also land at an-large berth as well. Delta (15th), Moffat County (16th) and Grand Valley (18th) are all on the bubble to host a regional tournament if they win a district championship. District winners must finish in the top 16 of RPI to host the first two rounds of the state tournament.
POTENTIAL STATE TOURNAMENT
District tournaments of course will determine official league qualifiers as the top two teams earn automatic berths, but we can continue to lay out potential state tournament brackets based on conference finishes.
For the bracket below, we use the following teams from each league as automatic qualifiers based on first and second place finishes in their respective league standings. The exception is that we move Weld Central into the top spot of the Confluence as they come in from the 4A Colorado 7 for district play. We also used Centauri as the IML champion based on a coin flip since the two are tied for the top spot. For the Western Slope, Cedaredge is our number one choice based on overall record with Moffat County as the second-place team based on a coin-flip. The Tigers and Delta have identical 13-4 records overall.
- CONFLUENCE: Weld Central, Eagle Ridge Academy
- FRONTIER: Middle Park, Bennett
- INTERMOUNTAIN: Centauri, Pagosa Springs
- METRO: Lutheran, Kent Denver
- PATRIOT: Sterling, Eaton
- TRI PEAKS: St Mary’s, Colorado Springs Christian
- WESTERN SLOPE: Cedaredge, Moffat County
The top eight seeds based on RPI standings from February 12th would be in this order
- St Mary’s
- Kent Denver (at-large)
- Pagosa Springs (at-large)
- Colorado Springs Christian (at-large)
The rest of the field would be filled out by RPI with Bennett (37th), Middle Park (39th) and Eagle Ridge Academy (40th) moving into the bracket as automatic qualifiers. They would bump Florence (#30), Liberty Common (#31) and Roaring Fork (#32) from the bracket.
- Manitou Springs
- Resurrection Christian
- Colorado Academy
- Jefferson Academy
- Moffat County
- Grand Valley
- St Mary’s Academy
- Faith Christian
- Coal Ridge
- Weld Central
- Middle Park
- Eagle Ridge Academy
|REGION ONE||REGION EIGHT|
|#1 St Mary’s vs #32 Eagle Ridge Academy||#8 Lutheran vs #25 Brush|
|#16 Moffat County vs #17 Vanguard||#9 Lamar vs #24 Machebeuf|
|REGION FOUR||REGION FIVE|
|#4 Cedaredge vs #29 Olathe||#5 Pagosa Springs vs #28 Weld Central|
|#13 Colorado Academy vs #20 Faith Christian||#12 Eaton vs #21 Salida|
|REGION THREE||REGION SIX|
|#3 Kent Denver vs #30 Bennett||#6 Colorado Springs Christian vs #27 Coal Ridge|
|#14 Jefferson Academy vs #19 St Mary’s Academy||#11 Resurrection Christian vs #22 Alamosa|
|REGION TWO||REGION SEVEN|
|#2 Centauri vs #31 Middle Park||#7 Sterling vs #26 Stargate|
|#15 Delta vs #18 Grand Valley||#10 Manitou Springs vs #23 University|