It didn’t take much time for the girls basketball season to get back into the swing of things.

No sooner had the 2023 portion of the season opened last Tuesday than a top-10 matchup lived up to the billing. No. 2 Peyton returned to the court with a hard-fought 55-52 victory over No. 9 Highland on a night when only a handful of teams played.

Peyton (7-0) raced out to a seven-point lead after the first quarter, only for Highland (4-3) to claw back. The Panthers held on down the stretch though, with AJ Mannering scoring 20 points and Abbie Nickell adding 15.

While a handful of games followed Wednesday and Thursday, a full slate of games is set for tonight in the state’s three smaller classifications. Here is a brief look at a few games to watch this week for Class 3A, 2A and 1A:

Class 3A

The Class 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League is already open for business, and fifth-ranked St. Mary’s has two massive league contests right off the bat this month. The Pirates visit unbeaten Buena Vista (6-0, 2-0) on Tuesday before turning around and taking on No. 1 Colorado Springs Christian (6-0, 3-0) two days later.

St. Mary’s (4-2, 2-0) will go nearly a month without a game. The team last took the court Dec. 13 in a victory over Atlas Preparatory School. Before that, the team’s two losses came to 4A ranked squads in No. 5 Lutheran and No. 4 University. Junior Emerson Kutz is averaging 16 points a game for the Pirates, along with nearly six assists and five steals.

Buena Vista draws Banning Lewis on Saturday. Colorado Springs Christian doesn’t open 2023 until Jan. 12 against St. Mary’s.

The schedule continues to be a gauntlet for sixth-ranked Platte Valley. The defending 3A state champions are just 1-5 on the season, but two of those losses have come to 6A programs, two more to 5A squads and the other to 4A’s No. 1 Holy Family.

It won’t get any easier this week. Two 4A ranked teams – No. 6 Eaton and No. 4 University – are up next away from the team’s home gym. In the case of University on Tuesday, it’s a rematch of the 3A state title game last March.
The good news for the Broncos is after visiting University, the team opens 3A Patriot League play and has a chance to establish a rhythm the rest of the way.

Class 2A

Speaking of tough leagues, the 3A/2A Lower Platte is another one where night-in, night-out it’s going to be a fight. Fourth-ranked Wray will experience that immediately, starting a stretch of five games in nine days by visiting No. 6 Merino (4-1) in league play tonight.

The Eagles (3-2) play in Nebraska on Saturday before turning around and hosting top-ranked Burlington (4-1) on Tuesday in a rematch of a tournament contest back on Dec. 9. Burlington won that game 69-65.

First up though is the Rams, who finished 2022 by defeating No. 3 Wiggins and No. 5 Akron. Wray’s Larissa Salmans, averaging nearly 14 points and eight rebounds a game, will be someone Merino will try to slow down in that game as well as against Burlington. Salmans scored 15 points in the teams’ earlier meeting, and Sharon Greek had 16. The Cougars received a huge showing though from Kiyarra Williams, who tallied 29 points and 11 rebounds. Williams averages more than 21 points a game.

Those teams aren’t the only Lower Platte foes fighting for an early advantage. Also on Friday night, No. 2 Sedgwick County travels to play No. 5 Akron in a rematch of a Dec. 19 tournament matchup, won by the Rams.

Addi Kessinger had 21 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists for Akron (4-2) in that contest. Abigail Dille led Sedgwick County with 20 points, but the Cougars shot just 25 percent from the floor. Sedgwick County followed that game up with a one-point loss to No. 3 Wiggins, falling 32-31.

Class 1A

Playing up against bigger competition isn’t new for top-ranked Flatirons Academy, but the defending state champions are about to get a massive test tonight. The Bison (7-0) visit 4A’s seventh-ranked Resurrection Christian (4-4) before opening 1A 5280 League play Saturday.

Flatirons Academy has played up against both 3A and 2A competition this season, averaging nearly 62 points a game in the process. Kenlee Durrill leads the Bison at 17.1 points a game.

In non-league play, No. 7 Kit Carson takes on No. 5 Kiowa on Saturday. Kit Carson (4-1) opens up High Plains League play tonight against Eads before taking on the Indians (5-0).

Kendra Byrd paces Kiowa with 19.2 points a game. Kit Carson, which has only lost to unbeaten McClave, has three players that score at least nine points a game. Lindsey Mayhan leads the way at 10.6.

Speaking of No. 4 McClave, the Cardinals (7-0) opened 2023 with a 56-21 rout of Cheyenne Wells on Thursday night. McClave hosts No. 9 Springfield (5-2) next Thursday.