Through the early stages of conference play in Class 3A girls’ basketball, we have a few teams taking big steps to winning a league championship while other results leave a few races wide open. Both situations have already occurred this week as Pagosa Springs topped Centauri Monday and Faith Christian stunned Lutheran on Tuesday.
The Pagosa Springs-Centauri contest was originally slated for last Friday but was delayed until Monday due to heavy snow and dangerous road conditions in the Southwest part of the state. The Pirates were methodical in posting the win as they outscored the Falcons by at least five points in every quarter. They led 16-12 after one quarter and slowly stretched the lead for a 58-40 road victory.
The win is huge since the two regular season battles between the clubs routinely decide if they share the championship or if one team wins the title outright. Since the Pirates picked up the win on the road in round one, they now become favored to land the league crown.
Pagosa Springs has two more games on the schedule this week as they visit Monte Vista on Friday and host Alamosa on Saturday. The second game is likely the tougher battle as the Moose (7-3) seem to be in position for no worse than a third-place finish. They rolled Monte Vista 64-25 in their only conference game last week.
Centauri looks to rebound from the loss with road trips to Bayfield and Cortez this weekend. The Falcons will be favored in both but they will seek more balance offensively. Melissa Wilson netted 19 points in the loss to Pagosa Springs but no other Falcon reached double figures. Wilson also hit six of 13 field goal attempts but the rest of the roster combined for just five baskets in 26 shots.
The Metro standings were handed a shock on Tuesday as pre-season favorite Lutheran came up short to Faith Christian 44-42. Faith Christian had lost to Skyview Academy (44-37) the week before so they were the heavy underdog going in against the 8th ranked Lions. Now the Eagles look to take out another first-place team on Thursday as they visit Colorado Academy. The Mustangs are 2-0 in league play and tied with Skyview Academy, Kent Denver and Machebeuf for the conference lead. Faith Christian and Lutheran both sit with one league loss and tied with Prospect Ridge in fifth.
Lutheran struggled from the field in the loss; connecting on just 14 of 52 attempts (27 percent). Freshman Kaitlyn Kyle was the only Lions in double figures. She scored 10 points while Stephanie Schultz and Kate Murphy each tallied eight. They look to bounce back at Machebeuf on Thursday. They also host Peak to Peak two nights later.
Another crucial contest in the Metro this week pits Skyview Academy at Kent Denver Thursday night. As mentioned, the clubs are part of a four-way tie for the top spot.
Skyview Academy is paced offensively by the trio of Natalia Miller-Forrest (15.4), Hannah Banko (11.9) and Sydney Watt (10.4). With 11 points, Wyatt was the lone double-digit scorer against Faith Christian while Miller-Forrest netted a game high 19 in Tuesday’s win over Peak to Peak.
Kent Denver has beaten Jefferson Academy (9), Peak to Peak (19) and Manual (16) by a combined 44 points. Freshman Amanda Licht (13.3) is the Sun Devils leading scorer and had a big game in the win over Jefferson Academy. She netted career bests in points (23) and three-pointers (3). She also pulled down five rebounds with two assists and three steals.
It was a non-conference win, but Delta’s victory over 4A ranked Montrose on Tuesday may make the Panthers the Western Slope favorite. The road to the title will be a long one as the Panthers must deal with quality league opponents such as Moffat County, Grand Valley, Cedaredge, Grand Valley and Coal Ridge. First up is a home game with Coal Ridge on Friday. Both teams are 2-0 in league play and tied with Moffat County in first place. Cedaredge and Grand Valley have yet to play a conference game but the Bruins and Cardinals both go to Moffat County this weekend.
Delta moved to 9-1 by edging Montrose 37-35 on Tuesday. The win wasn’t pretty as the Panthers hit just 25 percent of their shots and were outscored 11-1 in the third quarter. They rallied from seven down by outscoring the Indians 14-6 over the final eight minutes. Sara Geddes led the winners with 12 points and freshman Erika Kuta knocked in a pair of crucial three-pointers.
Up next for Delta is a road trip to Coal Ridge. The game is only action of the week for the Titans so they have complete focus on the first-place encounter. Coal Ridge is getting 12 points and 11 rebounds a game from sophomore Taylor Wiescamp. In league wins over Basalt and Gunnison, Wiescamp took just 15 combined shots for a total of 13 points but still collected 21 rebounds.
Moffat County takes a five-game winning streak to the weekend including road league wins over Gunnison (53-39) and Olathe (44-31). The Cowboys have not posted stats to MaxPreps this season but key players include Kinlie Brennise and Tiffany Hildebrandt.
Grand Valley prepped for the road trip to Craig by downing 4A Rifle 42-38 on Tuesday. It was their third straight win and pushed their record to 8-1. Cedaredge topped Olathe 37-20 in a non-league game on Tuesday. They will play again on February 14th in the game that will count in the conference standings.
Eaton maintained a share of the Patriot lead by beating University 51-38 on the road Tuesday night. Michaela Hill tallied 15 points and Addie Randel dropped in 11 with eight rebounds for the winners. Nakaiya Kuskie also nailed three treys and Sydney Booth grabbed nine rebounds in the win. On deck for the Reds is a Friday pairing with Sterling.
The win pushed the Reds to 3-0 in league play and 11-1 overall. They’re tied with Liberty Common (2-0) in first place. The Eagles have not played this week but return to action at home against Estes Park on Thursday. Taylor Fritzler (10.4) and Tatum Flack (10.3) are basically co-scoring leaders for Liberty Common. Flack combined for 36 points in two wins last week including a season best 23 against Frontier Academy. Fritzler added 21 over the same stretch.
The race behind the two leaders is a crowded one as Resurrection Christian, Platte Valley, Brush and Estes Park all sit at 2-1. None of those four squads square off this week so if Estes Park beats Liberty Common and Sterling stuns Eaton, then six teams could share the top spot heading into week three of the conference schedule.
Four teams opened the week tied for the Tri Peaks lead but the number was reduced to three as Colorado Springs Christian blew past Manitou Springs 75-42. The Lions moved to 3-0 in the conference and 10-0 overall. Megan Engesser exploded for 30 points while Rachel Ingram added 19 and Corrie Anderson 13. Caileen Sienknecht (19) and Aniah Olson (13) combined for 32 of the 42 points for Manitou Springs.
The Lions, who step away from the conference schedule to host Jefferson Academy on Saturday, remain tied with Salida and St Mary’s atop the standings. St Mary’s visits 4A Mead on the road Wednesday and then returns to Tri Peaks play against Buena Vista and Florence this weekend. Salida welcomes in Manitou Springs on Friday in the most important game of the weekend.
Of course, most conference fans are waiting for the big date between St Mary’s and Colorado Springs Christian and we’re inching closer. The top two teams in the statewide collide a week from Saturday (January 26th) at Colorado Springs Christian.
Middle Park (3-0) seems to be the best bet to challenge Academy (1-0) inside the Frontier. The Panthers kept a share of the league lead by blasting Lake County 53-32 on Tuesday. It was their fourth straight win since a loss to Skyview Academy (46-25). The Panthers host Bruce Randolph on Saturday.
Academy blasted Bruce Randolph (70-14) in their only conference game to date. Up this week are home games with Lake County (Wednesday) and Bennett (Friday). The Wildcats have won six straight.
Inside the Confluence are three teams sharing the early lead as Eagle Ridge Academy (1-0), Aurora West Prep (1-0) and DSST-College View (2-0) are all unbeaten. Lotus School and Strive Prep are 6-2 in non-league play and have yet to enter the conference fray. Since they’re the only two clubs with a winning record overall, they may end up battling for the title and they square off this Friday.