There are two battles of league leaders on the 3A girls’ basketball schedule this week. Middle Park meets Academy on Wednesday night and then on Friday Delta makes the trip north to Moffat County. In each case, both teams are unbeaten in league play and the winners will end up with sole possession of first place.
There is one asterisk to the Delta-Moffat County matchup as the Panthers must also get by Cedaredge on Tuesday to set up the unbeaten showdown. That won’t be easy as the Bruins have plenty to play for. They open the week with one conference loss and tied with Roaring Fork in third place. Cedaredge lost to Moffat County 52-33 but has responded with three straight wins including league wins over Basalt and Gunnison. Courtney Freeman dropped in 18 to lead the way against Basalt and Makayla Kehmeier added 11. The Bruins also outscored Gunnison 29-19 in the second half on their way to a 50-40 decision.
Delta and Moffat County have had very similar seasons to date. The Panthers dropped a December game to Centauri in December but has won eight consecutive games. The Bulldogs’ last loss also came in the San Luis Valley (Alamosa) but they’ve also won their last eight. Delta is 4-0 in league play including strong wins over Roaring Fork and Grand Valley. Moffat County has opened conference play with five straight wins including nice victories over Grand Valley and Cedaredge.
Delta built plenty of confidence with a dominating 72-48 win over Grand Valley last week. They led by just one point after the first quarter but then outscored the Cardinals 26-12 in the second quarter. The Panthers nearly matched that effort in the fourth with a 21-8 advantage there.
Freshman Erika Kuta paced the winners with 19 points and 10 rebounds. It was her second double-double of the season as the also totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds in an earlier win over Basalt. She averages nine points and nearly six rebounds per game. Junior Sara Geddes added 18 points and seven rebounds against Grand Valley. On the season, she leads the Panthers with 11 points per game and is second in rebounds (4.2).
Moffat County also has a win over Grand Valley but they held on for a 40-37 decision on January 18th. Kinlie Brennise topped the scoring list with 13 points and also led the Bulldogs with 11 rebounds. Tiffany Hildebrandt chipped in 11 points and six rebounds and Freshman Halle Hamilton added eight points and six boards. Hamilton (13) and Brennise (11) also combined for 24 points in a solid 52-33 win over Cedaredge.
Sitting seventh in the RPI standings this week, Academy (13-1) is the highest ranked team from the Frontier since the Final Four days of the Denver Science teams from 2011-13. They’ve won six conference games by a total of 207 points and seem in good position to host a regional tournament in early March.
Middle Park (9-2) has also put together a strong season and sits 20th in RPI. Unless they climb into the top 16 by seasons end, the Panthers may have to travel for post-season play even if they land the district title. District champions must finish the season in the top 16 of RPI to earn the right to play at home for regionals. The Panthers have been equally dominating in league play; beating five opponents by a combined 175 points.
They can’t officially clinch but Eaton can take a major step to winning the Patriot championship by beating Resurrection Christian on Tuesday. The Reds are alone in first and lead Resurrection Christian and Platte Valley by one game. They’ve already topped Platte Valley so another victory gives them wins over their top two challengers.
Eaton has won seven-in-a-row since a lone loss to Pagosa Springs. Five of their six league wins are by double digits with Platte Valley serving as the exception (43-35). They’ve since beaten University, Sterling, Valley and Brush by an average of 25 points.
Their most recent win was last Friday over Brush (68-44) where they outscored the ‘Diggers 32-18 in the second half. Bailie Duncan hit six of nine shots and finished with a game high 17 points. Sydney Booth added 14 points on six of eight shooting. Duncan ended with four three-pointers and Booth also led the Reds with six rebounds.
Resurrection Christian also played Brush last week and scored a 52-41 road victory. Juju Hemeyer came off the bench with 12 points and tied Gracie Stults for game-high honors. Hemeyer did a lot of damage at the foul line as she hit six of seven attempts. She also collected six assists and three steals. Stults was two of three from beyond the arc and added three assists and three steals.
Watching the outcome with great interest will be Platte Valley. If Resurrection Christian gets the win, the Broncos earn a share of first place. Should Eaton grab the victory, then Platte Valley will be alone in second place heading into their big game with University on Friday.
Colorado Springs Christian scored the most important win of last week; rolling St Mary’s 55-38 to take control of the Tri Peaks chase. The Lions are now alone atop the standings and also sit number one in the most recent RPI standings. Freshman standout Elleah Hoekert hit four three-pointers to lead CSCS with 16 points. Megan Engesser added 14 and Corrie Anderson 10.
This week the Lions have two games on the schedule as they visit Vanguard on Tuesday and host Trinidad on Friday. Vanguard is fighting for a top four league finish as they’re tied with Salida and Lamar in fourth.
St Mary’s looks to rebound from the CSCS loss at home Tuesday night against Manitou Springs. It’s a very important game as the winner takes over sole possession of second place. Both have one league loss and both suffered that setback to Colorado Springs Christian. The Pirates fell by 17 last week and the Mustangs by 33 points on January 15th.
In the loss to CSCS, Pirates leading scorer Josephine Howery was limited to 13 points, which is the second lowest total of her junior season. She was the only Pirate to reach double figures as the team connected on just 17 percent of their field goal attempts (13-75). Howery was 2-14 from the three-point line and the team finished just 4-36 from that range.
Manitou Springs has won three straight since the CSCS loss including solid victories over Salida (51-47) and Lamar (50-35). They will be favored in their remaining conference games so a win on Tuesday should get them no worse than a second place finish. Cassie Sienknecht netted 25 in the win over Salida and added 11 vs Lamar. Freshman Alexia Vigil led Manitou in that win with 16 points including two three-pointers.
A whopping eight teams begin the week within one game of the Metro lead. Lutheran, Prospect Ridge, Colorado Academy and Skyview Academy share first place with one loss apiece with Faith Christian, Kent Denver, Jefferson Academy and Machebeuf one game back in the loss column. Numerous games between all those contenders are on the schedule this week but we focus on the battle between Colorado Academy and Prospect Ridge on Thursday since it involves two first-place teams.
Colorado Academy has won their last three since falling to Faith Christian (42-37). They have maybe the most difficult remaining schedule as they still have games remaining with co-leaders Lutheran (8th) and Skyview Academy (17th). Seniors Mia Cravitz (9.8) and Story Wolf-Tinsman (9.7) basically share team scoring honors. Cravitz was held to just five against Faith Christian but has totaled 40 points over the last three. Wolf-Tinsman managed nine against Faith Christian and followed up with efforts of 12, 6 and 11 in the victories.
Prospect Ridge has won five straight since falling to Lutheran in their league opener (40-29). Included in the hot streak are wins over Kent Denver (59-30) and Faith Christian (42-32). Senior Alex Weber, with 14 points, led the way against Faith Christian while classmate Brittany Gioso exploded for 24 against Kent Denver.
Lutheran remains the league favorite. They head to Kent Denver on Tuesday and host Jefferson Academy on Saturday. Losses in either will tighten the race even more. Skyview Academy, which lost to Lutheran 63-34 last week, meets Jefferson Academy on Tuesday for their only conference match.
Pagosa Springs looks to keep the IML lead as they host Centauri and Monte Vista Friday and Saturday. The Pirates go to the weekend with a one game edge on Alamosa and they face the Pirates a second time on February 8th.
Centauri stayed within two games of first place with a 62-48 win at Bayfield Monday night. To stay in the title chase, Centauri must find a way to turn around a 58-40 loss to Pagosa Springs earlier this year. Devin Wilson led the winners with 21 points and Elsa Lindner added 11. Melissa Wilson dropped in 19 for the Falcons and Brenna McDaniel eight.