We’re basically at the midway point of the regular for Class 1A boys’ basketball so it’s time we start looking at the post-season and projecting how district and regional tournament pairings may look like. In our first “look ahead” we select the teams we feel will advance from each district and then place them in the regional tournament pairings based on RPI standings from February 13th.
Districts one and seven each advance two to regional tournaments and those clubs will match up in two cross-over games for regionals. Winners of each game advance to the state tournament in Pueblo.
For District One, we believe the race is easy as DeBeque should land the district title with Ouray as the number two seed. DeBeque is among the best teams in Class 1A and a definite threat to win the top trophy. They also handled North Park over the weekend to likely land the top district seed from the 2A/1A Western Slope. Ouray suffered their first loss of the season to 2A Ridgway over the weekend but they’ve already beaten Nucla (60-39) and will face Dove Creek on February 1st. A win over the Bulldogs that day should land them the top seed from the San Juan and be placed opposite DeBeque in the district bracket.
District seven is a bit more balanced but Evangelical Christian and Pikes Peak Christian are our picks to advance at this point. It’s important to gain the top overall seed from this district as the winner will not have to face DeBeque in the crossovers. ECA has played several 2A opponents and that schedule should help them come the post-season. Pikes Peak Christian has a small sample of games (3-1) but has a win over Deer Trail. Genoa Hugo could push for a top two finish as they also play a schedule filled with quality 2A opponents such as Limon and Byers. They do not face either Evangelical Christian or Pikes Peak Christian in the regular season.
With our projections in place, the Region One Tournament would pair up with this schedule.
DeBeque vs Pikes Peak Christian
Evangelical Christian vs Ouray
Region Two involves the top three qualifiers from Districts four, five and eight. At this point of the season, we believe Peetz, Haxtun and Cornerstone Christian have distinguished themselves as the top picks in each district but after those three, the picture is wide open.
Merino, Longmont Christian, Briggsdale and Prairie could push for spots two and three behind Peetz in District 4. The Rams beat Prairie last week and they have an early win over Haxtun so we have them slotted in the second spot right now. They also benefit from playing several quality 2A clubs in the Lower Platte. Longmont Christian (5-4) has dropped three straight but they remain our choice as the third qualifier. They’ve played a difficult schedule as well and will also get tuned for the playoffs by meeting several good 2A teams in the Mile High.
Otis, Arickaree/Woodlin, Stratton/Liberty and Idalia have all shown flashes and will be in the mix behind Haxtun in District 5. Otis is only 4-4 but once healthy, we think they’re the second-best team in the district and have them at #2 right now. They beat Stratton/Liberty at the Akron Tournament in December and have a rematch with the Knighted/Eagles on Friday. Stratton/Liberty’s win over Arickaree/Woodlin makes them our third district qualifier.
The District 8 picture seems to cut and dry. Cornerstone Christian (10-0), as mentioned, is the choice at #1 with Front Range Baptist (5-2) and Belleview Christian (8-2) the choices for second and third. After those three teams, there seems to be a significant drop off in the district race.
Front Range Christian and Belleview Christian each have a loss to Heritage Christian. Front Range has a quality win over Longmont Christian and Belleview Christian has beaten Pikes Peak Christian. Belleview and Front Range collide on February 8th. Front Range would be our pick to win that game but Belleview has the higher RPI right now and since we’re using those standings to lay out regional brackets, the Bruins would have the higher seed.
#6 Longmont Christian vs #7 Merino – winner to face #1 Cornerstone Christian
#5 Haxtun vs #8 Otis – winner to face #2 Belleview Christian
#4 Front Range Baptist vs #9 Stratton/Liberty – winner to face #3 Peetz
Region Three consists of districts two, three and six and only one has a clear-cut favorite right now. That’s Sangre De Cristo in District 6 as we don’t believe the T-Birds will be pushed much by teams in the San Luis Valley; either in the regular season or in the district tournament. Traditional powers Sierra Grande (2-6) and Creede (3-6) are both well below five hundred but each still has a chance to get into the regional tournament. One team to watch is Cotopaxi. The Pirates are 5-4 and have an overtime win over Creede. They face Sierra Grande on February 1st. Creede and Sierra Grande have both played strong schedules so we expect them to be in the district mix as well.
For now, we have Sangre De Cristo #1, Cotopaxi #2 and then Sierra Grande as the third qualifier.
Districts two and three are based in Southeast Colorado and many teams have already been through ups and downs against common opponents. That makes projecting which teams will advance very difficult but for our first lineup, we have Cheraw, Kit Carson and McClave in the top three spots of District Two and then Walsh, South Baca and Kim/Branson 1-2-3 in District Three. Granada is a strong challenger in District Two while Wiley and Springfield also have enough talent to earn a top three finish in District Three.
Cheraw lost to Walsh over the weekend and their second loss is against Sangre De Cristo. They face Kit Carson on the road February 1st and we believe that game will determine the top two spots in the High Plains league and the district bracket. Granada and McClave don’t square off until February 8th so it will be awhile before we get a good read on those two clubs. Both have overtime losses to Wiley on their resume.
Walsh moved up to #1 in our mind because of the win over Cheraw on Saturday. They have not faced any of the four district opponents but will tangle with South Baca coming up on Saturday. They have Springfield on the 31st. Both those games are on the road and the Eagles have Wiley and Kim at home.
South Baca is #2 based on a strong win over Wiley. Plus, they lost to Cheraw by just three points. Kim/Branson took the third spot ahead of Springfield based on their head-to-head win (45-38) just last week.
With our district qualifiers in place, we used RPI from January 13th to place teams in the regional bracket. The top three teams get a bye in regionals and face a winner from day one with the three winners advancing to the state tournament.
#6 Kim/Branson vs #7 Cotopaxi – winner faces #1 Walsh
#5 McClave vs #8 South Baca – winner faces #2 Sangre De Cristo
#4 Cheraw vs #9 Sierra Grande – winner faces #3 Kit Carson
PROJECTED REGIONAL QUALIFIERS
District 1 (Top 2)
District 2 (Top 3)
#2 Kit Carson
District 3 (Top 3)
#1 Walsh (5-3)
#2 South Baca (4-4)
#3 Kim/Branson (7-4)
District 4 (Top 3)
#1 Peetz (7-2)
#2 Merino (4-4)
#3 Longmont Christian (5-4)
District 5 (Top 3)
#1 Haxtun (8-2)
#2 Otis (4-4)
#3 Stratton/Liberty (3-5)
District 6 (Top 3)
#1 Sangre De Cristo (6-1)
#2 Sierra Grande (2-6)
#3 Cotopaxi (5-4)
District 7 (Top 2)
#1 Evangelical Christian (6-3)
#2 Pikes Peak Christian (3-1)
District 8 (Top 3)
#1 Cornerstone Christian (10-0)
#2 Front Range Baptist (5-2)
#3 Belleview Christian (8-2)