Major television sports networks like to put names to stretches of sports action so to follow suit we’re calling this championship week in Class 3A girls’ basketball.  At least five games on tap this week could serve as the game that will determine conference crowns.  Those games include Kent Denver-Lutheran, Colorado Springs Christian-St Mary’s, Eaton-Sterling, Pagosa Springs-Centauri and Clear Creek-Middle Park.
We’ll take them in order so we begin with Kent Denver (7-0) and Lutheran (6-0) who collide in Parker on Wednesday night.  Both clubs are unbeaten in league play and since Kent Denver has already beaten third place Colorado Academy, they can basically clinch the championship with a win.  The Sun Devils will have league games remaining at Jefferson Academy on Friday and Machebeuf next week and need at least one win in those to official claim the title.
Lutheran cannot wrap up the crown with a win on Wednesday as they also face Colorado Academy on Saturday.  Sandwiched in between is an equally important game with Jefferson Academy plus the Lions have another league game with St Mary’s Academy next week.
The Lions have won every league game by at least 14 points including a nice 45-31 win over Faith Christian.  They opened up that win with a 18-9 run in the third quarter.  Nine players scored including nine apiece from Sara Larson and Stephanie Schultz.  Haley Shaklee added six points with Olivia Waldon and Kate Webster each chipping in five.
Kent Denver beat Faith Christian by just five points but has won every other conference game by at least 13 points.  That was the margin in their most recent conference wins over St Mary’s Academy and Prospect Ridge.  They led the Miners 34-15 at halftime and then played many reserves in the second half.  Sophia Reynolds dropped in 11 and Maya Muwanga also reached double figures with 10.  Julia Doyle and Bailey Parkhouse each added six.
Neither St Mary’s nor Colorado Springs Christian has been pushed much in racing to nine wins in nine Tri Peaks games.  CSCS has outscored opponents 589-215 and St Mary’s 574-265.  About the only challenge either has faced came against third place Lamar.  The Pirates grabbed a 40-32 decision over the Savages with the Lions gaining a 32-28 win.
Colorado Springs Christian won last year’s clash 61-43 and we can refer back to the game since many key players return for both programs.  Megan Engesser scored 29 points and Rachel Ingram 18 for the Lions and those two average a combined 37 points a game this year.  Josephine Howery put in 10 points and Makenna Bodette and Mary Cummings six apiece for St Mary’s.  They represent three of the top four scorers for the Pirates this year; combining for nearly 35 points a contest.
Other key players to watch include Katie McGrath (5.9), Abby Knedler (5.5) and Corrie Anderson (4.4) for CSCS and Seneca Hackley (10.7) for St Mary’s.  Knedler and Anderson combined for 17 points in a key win over Pagosa Springs before Christmas and how well they shoot on Friday could determine if the Lions grab the win.  Hackley was limited to just two points as a freshman against CSCS last year but likely needs more output for the Pirates to gain the victory.
Both teams are in good shape to land the right to host in the fast-approaching state tournament.  St Mary’s sits number one overall in the RPI with Colorado Springs Christian fifth.
No surprise that Sterling and Eaton are battling for the Patriot championship on Friday.  The Tigers joined the conference before the start of the 2012-13 season and has won 68 of 70 conference games in that span.  They’ve won the championship each year.  Eaton is 60-8 over the same stretch and has not finished lower than third including three runner-up finishes.
Both the Tigers and Reds are 8-0 in league play with a two-game edge on University and Resurrection Christian.  Both teams can clinch the championship with a win.  Sterling has wrapped up at least a top two finish but Eaton would still need to beat University next week to gain second if they fall short this week.
Neither team has lost since Christmas.  Sterling has won 10 straight and Eaton their last 11.  Both clubs have five players scoring at least five points a game.  Sterling is led by Brooke Polenz (11.8), Kyndall Feather (9.5) and Lauryn Luft (8.7).  Eaton’s balanced attack is paced by Baillie Duncan (10.9) and Addie Randel (9.6).
Saturday marks round two between Pagosa Springs and Centauri.  The Pirates won the first meeting at home 40-32 so another win earns them the outright championship.  Should Centauri avenge their only loss of the season, the two will share the championship.  A tiebreaker would then be needed to determine the top district seed but a third meeting in the finals of that bracket is highly likely.
Pagosa Springs jumped to a 21-12 halftime lead in game one and held that margin most of the second half.  Morgan Lewis was the top scorer with 11 points and she also pulled down the same number of rebounds.  Hailey Griego added 10 points and five rebounds.  Ada Peshlakai scored seven and Devin Wilson six.
Centauri was paced by Ember Canty with 10 points and six rebounds.  Mia Garcia added eight points and Caroline Van Berkum chipped in five rebounds.
Both teams ended up with three treys in the game.  Wilson had two for Pagosa Springs and Garcia two for Centauri.  The Pirates won the free throw battle 15-11 and the rebounding advantage 26-18 but committed 23 turnovers to just 17 for Centauri.
Each club is in position to gain a top eight seed and host the first two rounds of the state tournament later this month.  Centauri is 3rd in RPI and Pagosa Springs 4th.
While the Clear Creek-Middle Park game on Saturday could eventually determine the Frontier championship, Middle Park’s game with Bennett on Wednesday may play a more important role in the state tournament bracket.  Clear Creek is unbeaten in league play and tied with Middle Park for the league lead but the Golddiggers drop into Class 2A for the post-season.  That means the winner between Middle Park and Bennett could land the top overall district seed in the Frontier.
Bennett (8-1) is alone in third place and one game back of both Clear Creek and Middle Park.  They’ve won three in a row since a 54-41 loss to Clear Creek.  Their latest win over Academy (53-52) was very important as it gave the Tigers sole possession of third place.
Middle Park topped Academy 35-27 last week to stay perfect inside the conference.  Six players average between five and eight points per game on the season.  Haiden Baker (8.0) leads the list but Erica Weimer, Kierra Bar and Bailey Martin all average six and Katie Trail and Britney Rangel add five.
Clear Creek has won 13 in a row since a loss to Denver Christian.  They expect to battle with Highland for the District Seven crown in Class 2A.
Cedaredge knocked off Delta 34-30 on Tuesday.  It was the third win for the Bruins over Delta this season but it was the most important as it came in conference play.  The result leaves Moffat County alone in first as the only unbeaten Western Slope squad with Cedaredge and Delta now sharing second place.  The Bruins of course have the advantage with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Moffat County is far from clinching the league championship as they have games remaining against both Cedaredge and Delta.  And those games come on back-to-back nights on the 16th and 17th.  They travel to Delta that Friday before hosting Cedaredge on Saturday afternoon.  Up first are home meetings with Olathe and Gunnison this weekend.
The Bruins are back on the floor Friday against Vail Christian and then return to Western Slope activity Saturday against Aspen.  They also meet with Roaring Fork a week from Friday.  Delta goes to Roaring Fork on Saturday and also has a tough league date at Grand Valley to close the regular season.
The Confluence league schedule is also winding down and it appears next week’s game between DSST-College View and Eagle Ridge Academy could determine the top district seed.  The two are a combined 9-0 in league play but Eagle Ridge Academy is the highest ranked team in the RPI at #41.