5A GIRLS WEEKLY UPDATE

The controversial RPI playoff qualifying system certainly is being talked about daily and nightly as the end of the regular season — three full weeks remain — is within sight.

Consider Regis Jesuit in Aurora. Historically strong for more than a decade and regular contributors of talent to the Division I level, the Raiders in 2017-18 are 14-3 overall and just a half-game off the Continental League lead at 4-0.

They have not lost a game this season to a Colorado team. They always seem to compete in high-end tournaments out of state, frequently taking two trips in a season. Regis Jesuit began the season in a top grouping in La Jolla, Calif., and recently competed in an Ohio tournament so exclusive that the Raiders had to wait a couple of seasons for their turn.

In addition, Regis Jesuit, led by coach Carl Mattei, has beaten Jefferson County’s Lakewood, defending Class 5A state champion Grandview and last week got past always elite Highlands Ranch in league play. They also beat Fairview by double figures and the Knights recently took down Fort Collins, the last female team in big schools to take a hit. And polls? The Raiders are ranked No. 27 nationally by ESPNW.

And yet the Raiders, who also feature in-demand junior Fran Belibi (13.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals) — she has narrowed her choices to Harvard, Notre Dame, Princeton and Stanford — are only No. 8 in current RPI figures. Interestingly, Lakewood (No. 3), Grandview (No. 4) and Highlands Ranch (No. 5) are somehow ahead of the Raiders, who will be at Castle Rock’s Castle View ( 16-2, 5-0) and junior India Cole (13.7 points) on Tuesday.

Liberty (12-5, 4-3) and Fountain-Fort Carson (10-7) is just like in boys play — the race is on to catch Doherty in the Colorado Springs Metro. The Lancers (senior Jayda Lyon, 14.2 points) will visit the Trojans (Samiyah Worrell, 14.1) on Tuesday. And keep watching the Trojans — on Friday, they will be at Rampart (7-9, 3-3).

Up north, Fort Collins (14-1, 4-1) shook off its first loss by taming Loveland in the Front Range. The Lambkins and Delsie Johnson (15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) won’t have to travel far for a big game — they will be at crosstown-rival Fossil Ridge (13-4, 6-1), tied for second in league with Fairview, on Tuesday. Junior Ashley Steffeck continues to head the SaberCats in scoring (12.8).

And keep Friday open. The SaberCats will be at Fairview (13-5 overall), which still is riding the duo of Ashley Panem (17.4 points) and Denali Pinto (16.9).

The biggie of the week in the Centennial League will be in Aurora on Wednesday, when Grandview (13-3, 8-0) will entertain Arapahoe, which has quietly built a nice 11-6, 6-2 record. Leilah Vigil (14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Alisha Davis (12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) are leading the Wolves; Maggie Wortman (9.1 points) tops the Warriors.

Two of 5A’s better records will be on display Friday, when the western slope’s Fruita Monument (16-1) will be at Ralston Valley (14-2) in nonleague. The Wildcats’ Riley Snyder (18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds) will meet the Mustangs’ Delaynie Byrne (21.8 points, 8.0 rebounds).

As for city doings, Far Northeast (11-6, 2-2) will be at Denver South (10-8, 3-0), a game off the Denver Prep lead, on Friday.

Friday also will have a couple of league leaders going it with Rangeview visiting Denver East. The Raiders (7-9, 4-0), currently atop the East Metro Athletic Conference, are paced by junior Angel Broadus’ 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. The Angels, seemingly always near or at the top of the Denver Prep, have R’Manie Pulling getting 16.5 points.

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