Realize it’s frustrating and brings extra work to coaches and administrators across the state but when games are cancelled because of COVID or other reasons, sometimes the scramble to find a late game produces some excellent and unexpected matchups. That’s the case in 1A boys today as #1 Evangelical Christian heads to Blanca for a date with #4 Sierra Grande. This game was not scheduled until two days ago when both teams lost a contest due to COVID.
Photo provided by John Contreras
Both teams are unbeaten at 8-0 and the season and sit in the top five of RPI and the coaches’ polls. The matchup gives Sierra Grande their first chance to see how they stack up against a fellow top 10 opponent as it will be their first game against a ranked club. ECA has wins over Cheraw and Belleview Christian from December and both opponents have spent time in the rankings. The Bruins in fact are still there at number six this week.
Since both have had games postponed or cancelled of late, neither has really been that busy since the Christmas break. Sierra Grande, in fact, has played just once and that came on the 13th when they knocked off 2A Trinidad 58-47. ECA has stepped on the court just twice since December 18th in scoring wins over Flatirons Academy (42-36) and Colorado Springs School (56-47).
Three seniors lead ECA in scoring; a trio led by Michael Mann with 14.3 points per game. He also tops the rebound list with 8.9. RJ Wagner is next in scoring at 10.4 with Jon Bunker chipping in 7.2. Both also grab over six rebounds per contest.
Sierra Grande has battled some injuries but features a top player in Isiah Chairez. The senior gets 19.4 points and 10.7 rebounds an outing. Sophomore Brian Ontiveros provides support with nearly 13 points a game.
Two other games in Class 1A of note on Saturday as McClave heads to Springfield and Genoa Hugo visits Stratton. McClave (6-4) and Springfield (4-3) are two teams hovering around five hundred that we think can make a post-season run. Both have spent the season adapting to either new teammates or a new coach and we expect them to get better each week. Genoa Hugo and Stratton could be playing for the top 1A spot in the Union Pacific conference and a better seed in the district tournament.
McClave is 3-1 since Christmas with a lone loss to 2A Wiggins mixed in with victories over Cheraw, Kim/Branson and Eads. Foreign exchange students Edguardo Verdu (14.6) and Ricardo Cazzaniga (10.1) continue to find their roles with the Cardinals but they have provided consistent offense through the first half of the season. Aiden Martinez is the leading scorer overall (14.7) and along with Connor Forgue (7.0) and Aydin Gomez (6.8) give the Cardinals five options on the offensive end.
Springfield has captured four straight wins following an 0-3 start. That includes a solid 56-50 win over then ranked Cheyenne Wells on January 8th. Kyler Crane netted 22 points, Colby Batterton 15 and Cooper Stolebarger 13 in the quality win.
Genoa Hugo broke into the 1A top 10 by opening with five straight wins but they dropped out this week following a 1-4 stretch. Three of those losses are against 2A league opponents in Limon, Byers and then Burlington last night. Lacking size across the roster, the Pirates want to maintain an up-tempo offense along with a hard-working defense. Trey Smith (19.9), Wyatt Miller (13.4) and Colby Simmons (11.1) all average double figures.
Stratton has climbed over five hundred (4-3) with back-to-back wins over Fleming (49-36) and Kit Carson (64-60). They have more than enough depth to keep pace with the Pirates and get offensive production from the likes of Cyler Notter, Rustin Williams and Daniel Tanner among many others. They also have much more size than the Pirates.
By far the best matchup in Class 2A has #4 Limon at home against #8 Holyoke. Both teams are coming off wins on Friday but the Dragons had to work much harder than the Badgers. Limon rolled Deer Trail 68-5 so the starting group saw very limited action. The Dragons meantime worked a full 32 minutes before disposing of in-county rival Haxtun 55-51.
Guard play will be on display in this one as the Badgers brother combo of Brady and Jordan Rockwell can both direct the offense and hit three-pointers. Holyoke has three solid players on the perimeter in Wyatt Sprague, Ethan Johnson and Cash Weber. Limon has more size on the inside and may look to the trio of Kaden Becker, Eli Weisensee and Treyton Marx to control the boards on each end.
Hoehne also visits Holly for a crucial matchup inside the 2A Santa Fe. Each has just one league loss and the winner stays one game back of Fowler in the standings. Hoehne (7-3) is favored as they have three more wins on the year than the Farmers (4-7).
5th ranked Centauri (3A) scored an important league win over Montezuma Cortez last Friday and followed up with a non-league upset of then #1 St Mary’s the next day. This weekend, the unbeaten Falcons (10-0) have the opposite schedule. They moved past Vanguard 50-40 for a non-league win but return to IML action at Pagosa Springs tonight. The Falcons are 1-0 and share the very early lead with Alamosa while Pagosa Springs is already 2-1 in the conference and needing a win to stay within range.
In last week’s win over St Mary’s, the Falcons connected on just 39 percent of their shots but outrebounded the Pirates 44-29. That allowed several second chance opportunities and the Falcons took advantage. Mason Claunch dumped in 28 points, Baron Holman added 19 and Kaleb Anderson 11. Chaz Holman was a fourth player in double figures with 10. Defensively, Centauri limited St Mary’s to their fewest points of the season and also created 23 turnovers. The two Holman’s each had three steals.
Pagosa Springs won at Montezuma Cortez on Friday; beating the Panthers 63-43. They’ve now won four of their last five stretching back to mid-December. Gunner Dozier (14.0) and Kayson Shahan (11.1) are both juniors and provide the Pirates a nice 1-2 punch on offense.
Both Platte Canyon (7-2) and Pinnacle (7-2) started the week sharing first place in the 3A Frontier but following losses to fellow league leaders, they collide today with only the winner staying the title chase. The Huskies were blown out by Middle Park 67-25 on Wednesday while the Timberwolves fell to DSST-Montview 45-32. Montview and Middle Park remain tied atop the standings with a combined league record of 6-0.
It’s a similar situation in the 4A Western Slope where Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs collide for the first of two league meetings. Both are 2-1 in the conference and tied with Eagle Valley (4-1) in second. All three teams trail league leading Palisade (3-0) by one game but its early as each club has 12 conference games.
Glenwood’s leading scorer is Reid Swanson (11.9) and Bryson McClain (7.5) is their leading re0bounder. He also chips in nearly nine points per game. Steamboat Springs moved past Battle Mountain 64-48 on Thursday night as Cade Gedeon tallied 18 points. He also added 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Three teams enter Saturday sharing the 4A Longs Peak lead and two of them collide today as Frederick goes to Roosevelt. The Riders have two league wins but the Warriors have already chocked up four including an 81-55 decision over Fort Morgan on Thursday. It was their fifth straight win overall since an overtime loss to #6 Green Mountain to close December. Matias Aldana netted 21 against Fort Morgan with Jacoby Conway (15) and Luke Justice (10) also reaching double figures. They hit ten treys including three from Aldana and two apiece from Justice, Bryce Conover and Jacob Lovins.
Roosevelt hasn’t played a league contest since beating Niwot 56-46 on January 11th. Since that victory, the Riders have split two games; falling to Platte Valley 63-62 last Saturday and then beating Weld Central 51-39 last night. Limited stats are available on the Riders but senior guard Brock Saya totaled 69 points in their first three games.