With both the Intermountain and Patriot leagues each featuring three teams in the top 10 this week, the conference race in both should be among the best in Class 3A. Those schedules get underway this week and there are important games in both.
Our rundown begins in the IML where #3 Centauri heads to #6 Pagosa Springs on Saturday. The teams routinely meet three and sometimes four in a season so there are no secrets between them. League member Alamosa is ranked fifth and since each team plays each other twice, Saturday’s game is the first of six on the schedule that will determine the top three spots.
Pagosa Springs (6-2) has the lesser record than Centauri (9-0) but the Pirates have probably played a bit stronger schedule. Losses are against #1 St Mary’s and #2 Lutheran and they have a win over Eaton. Five of the nine Centauri wins are against 2A teams but they’ve beaten Sanford twice and also own quality road wins at Delta and Cedaredge in December.
Sanford is a good comparison team as Pagosa Springs also has a win over the Indians. The Pirates picked up a 42-29 win last week where they allowed just 30 total shots and eight first half points. Elsa Lindner, with nine points, paced the Pagosa Springs offense with the trio of Hailey Griego, Teagan Stretton and Taylor Lewis each scoring eight. Greigo also added seven rebounds.
Centauri topped Sanford 38-24 during the La Junta Holiday tournament in December and added a second win earlier this month in a 47-43 overtime decision. The Falcons actually trailed 12-7 after one quarter but used a strong game from Brenna McDaniel to come from behind. The junior finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Mia Garcia added 10 points and Brynli Sowards seven rebounds.
Both the Pirates and Falcons were aggressive in their Sanford wins as Pagosa hit 15 of 23 from the foul line and Centauri 20 of 29. That aggressive could lead to foul trouble in Saturday’s matchup and depth may be in favor of the Falcons in this one.
Alamosa should be 2-0 in the conference after the weekend as they’ll host Bayfield on Friday and Monte Vista on Saturday. Their first conference test comes a week from Saturday at home against Pagosa Springs.
The Patriot race is wide open as six teams enter the league slate with two or fewer losses. Platte Valley is ranked 7th, Eaton 9th and University 10th but Resurrection Christian (7-1), Brush (5-2) and possibly Estes Park (6-2) could be in the mix. Those six clubs collide in five different matchups this week so the next six days are very important to the conference championship.
The matchups are in this order:
- Tuesday: Estes Park at Eaton
- Tuesday: Platte Valley at Resurrection Christian
- Tuesday: University at Brush
- Thursday: Eaton at Platte Valley
- Friday: Resurrection Christian at University
Rankings wise, the most attractive pairing is the annual battle between Eaton and Platte Valley in Kersey. Both teams have a week one loss to unbeaten Academy and the comparison scores give the edge to Eaton. The Reds fell short by just two points while the Broncos lost by 14. But that edge may be balanced out as the Broncos will be on their home court.
Sophomore Cora Schissler (15.3) is the top scorer for Platte Valley. Freshman Bree Bunting is next with 10.3 and is also the second leading rebounder with 5.8 per game. Junior Rhys Maxey leads that category with 6.7 boards. Another key contributor is sophomore Brooke Bunting with 9.7 points.
Eaton seeks a better performance than the 55-37 loss to Pagosa Springs just after Christmas. The Reds were within four on the road (32-28) after three quarters but were outscored 23-7 in the final eight minutes. They struggled with shooting the basketball; hitting just 30 percent from the field overall and 3-13 from the three point. They also made just six of 12 foul shots.
University has won three in a row since a 77-53 loss to #1 St Mary’s. They scored two road wins last week; beating Prospect Ridge 49-24 and Kent Denver 50-33 on back-to-back nights. Fast starts were the key in both games. They led Prospect Ridge 27-8 at halftime and Kent Denver 33-10 at the same point. Taylor Gollhofer and Miranda Wiedeman combined for 23 points and 15 rebounds against the Miners and Tayrn Kravig dropped in three treys and 18 points versus Kent Denver.
Brush hasn’t played since beating Fort Morgan 77-58 in late December so their home date with University will be their first in over a month. They’ve won four straight overall including a nice 51-38 win over 2A defending state champion Yuma. Dalayna Tadolini paces the offense with 12.1 points per game and adds five rebounds. Brooke Rule is next with 10.9 points along with 3.3 steals. Kenzie Kraich is another contributor with seven points and seven rebounds each contest.
Resurrection Christian opened with a tough loss to St Mary’s but has put together seven straight wins since. They’ve not played as strong a schedule as the other top clubs but do own a win over Colorado Academy (49-38) last week. Juju Hemeyer had 14 in the win and became the school’s all-time leading scorer. Bryleigh Schweer (11), Tatum Runner (10) and Taylor Wright (10) also reached double figures.
Estes Park won just three games two years ago and bumped to 11 last year. With their 6-2 start, the Bobcats have a chance to surpass that number this year. Olivia Hamel is their key. She averaged 14 points and 16 rebounds a game and must be a factor in every game for the Bobcats to contend for a top four league finish.
There’s a sneaky good game on the Western Slope between Delta (5-3) and Roaring Fork (7-4). Records for both are a bit misleading as Delta played December without returning leading scorer Sara Geddes in the lineup and Roaring Fork has played eight games against 4A schools. They also pushed Eaton to within two points (43-41).
Geddes returned for Delta and helped the Panthers win the Delta County Shootout. They topped Cedaredge last Friday with Geddes getting eight points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals. She exploded for 23 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Hotchkiss. She also added three steals.
Maya Lindgren (13.3) and Emily Broadhurst (9.3) are the top two scores for Roaring FOrk. Caroline Wisroth adds 5.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. She’s one of six Rams averaging at least five points a game offensively.
#1 St Mary’s may have won the Tri Peaks last week with a lopsided 82-39 win over Vanguard. The Pirates picked up a career best and school record 41 points from Josephine Howery in the win. She 17 of 24 shots including five of nine from the beyond the three point line. She seems on the way to a second straight Player of the Year award and the Pirates a third straight state title.
Vanguard fell to 8th in 3A with the loss but bounced back to beat Ellicott 58-30 in their next game and has an important league date with Buena Vista this Saturday. The Demons are already 3-0 in league play with wins over Lamar, James Irwin and Florence. Full stats are not available for the Demons but team leaders appear to be Mady McFee, Charis Mayton and Sage McGinnis.
In the Metro, we expect #2 Lutheran to run the table without much of a push so the best race may be for the runner-up spot. Two games this week will help determine that spot as Faith Christian (2-6) goes to Skyview Academy (5-1) and Jefferson Academy (4-3) visits Kent Denver (2-4). Those four teams along with Colorado Academy (4-3) seem to be the best bets to finish second through fifth.
Lutheran hasn’t played since a December win over Pagosa Springs (38-36) and have their next three games on the road including trips to Prospect Ridge this Wednesday and St Mary’s Academy on Friday.
Another team that should get through a league schedule is Academy. The Wildcats are 7-0 overall and the remaining 11 teams in the Frontier have a combined 15 wins with four coming from Sheridan. Academy, which rolled Faith Christian 59-24 last week, goes to Clear Creek on Wednesday and then hosts Bruce Randolph on Saturday. The game with Sheridan is set for February 7th.