Big night in the 3A Metro chase as traditional league powers collide in two important matchups. Those two games head up our list of four games where outcomes will impact league championship races.
Photo by Lance Wendt
The two Metro meetings pit Faith Christian (7-3) against #4 Colorado Academy (9-1) and Lutheran (4-5) at #9 Manual (5-3). Faith Christian, Colorado Academy and Manual are all unbeaten in league play and share the lead with Kent Denver entering week two of the conference slate. Lutheran is 0-1 following a loss to Kent Denver last week that snapped their 19-game conference winning streak. They are the two-time defending league champions and may need to upset Manual to stay in this year’s chase. The Thunderbolts, before last week, were the last team in conference play to beat Lutheran; downing them to close the 2020 league schedule.
Lutheran’s roster is completely different from the last two championship teams but they are still very competitive against every conference opponent. In the 81-65 loss to Kent Denver, Brayden Jacobs scored 17 points and Brandon Thompson hit three treys. He finished with 11 points. Leo Falappi added nine rebounds. On defense, the Lions gave up 10 three-pointers and now face a red-hot Jordan Reed as they tip against Manual.
The Thunderbolts last stepped on the court last Tuesday and blew past Peak to Peak 93-78. Reed had a monster and complete game as he scored 53 points on just 29 shot attempts. He was 18 of 29 from the field but also added 13 of 14 from the foul line. And scoring wasn’t his only focus as the lefty dished out seven assists, pulled down nine rebounds and collected four steals.
Colorado Academy and Faith Christian shapes up to be a tremendous contest. The Mustangs opened the season with a loss to 2nd ranked St Mary’s but has won their last nine including a solid win over 4A D’Evelyn. Faith Christian also has a loss to St Mary’s and their second loss is to D’Evelyn so there are common opponents for the two.
CA has been off the court for nine days since moving past Machebeuf (73-38) in their conference opener. Ahbil Woldeyohannes led the Mustangs with a season high 19 points. He averages 13. Elliott Cravitz added 14 points including a pair of three-pointers.
A bit surprising that Faith Christian is not in the 3A Top 10. They’re 7-3 against a high level schedule and all that tradition and past state titles should carry some weight with fellow coaches. It’s likely a win over Colorado Academy gets them there next week.
League wins are against Prospect Ridge (63-53) and Skyview Academy (83-40). Ben Clark scored 22 including seven three-pointers, against Prospect with Carson Jasa adding 13 points and 12 rebounds. Keegan Paige dropped in 24 points against Skyview with Ethan Kuyper adding 14. Master Diggins reached double figures in both games with 10 and 13 respectively.
#3 Aspen is unbeaten and heavily favored to roll through the Western Slope chase on their way to a championship. The bigger question may be who finishes second and the answer could come with tonight’s matchup between Coal Ridge (5-5) and Moffat County (6-4) in Craig. They along with Grand Valley are considered strong challengers to finish right behind the Skiers at seasons end.
Coal Ridge is 2-2 since Christmas and look to rebound from Tuesday’s loss to 2A ranked Vail Mountain (63-50). Andrez Mendoza (11.5) and Eddie Salazar (11.4) basically share the scoring lead with Damian Lopez also averaged double figures (10.1). Salazar adds nearly six rebound and four assists per game; Lopez chips in five rebounds and Mendoza four rebound and three assists.
Moffat County has split two games since the break; falling to Grand Junction Central and beating Middle Park last week. Myles Simpson had 15 and Ryan Peck 14 in the win over Middle Park. Jordan Carlson (12) and Bryant Carlson (11) combined for another 23. The Bulldogs went to the foul line 32 times and made 18.
The Fort Morgan-Frederick matchup on Wednesday was postponed but the two teams will quickly make it up tonight. Frederick is unbeaten in league play and tied with Severance and Roosevelt in first place with Fort Morgan one of three teams just one game back in the loss column. They’re tied for fourth with Riverdale Ridge and Thompson Valley in a very crowded top of the standings.
Fort Morgan is very close to making this a first place battle as their lone league loss came by one point to Severance. They responded by beating Riverdale Ridge 69-66 last week. Wesley Carnes paces the Mustangs with 15.6 points per game with Fernando Marquez (12.2) a second double figure scorer. Nathan Gerken is the top rebounder (7.0).
Frederick has scored all three league wins by at least 10 points apiece but stronger challenges are in the future. They have Fort Morgan tonight and then co-leader Roosevelt on Saturday. Severance is up on Thursday so their championship hopes could be decided over the next seven days.
Luke Justice (14.5) tops the offensive scoresheet with Bryce Conover and Alex Sturn also chipping in about 10 points per game. Sturn adds another seven rebounds for the Warriors.