Three highly ranked clubs posted important early conference victories on Tuesday night to remain atop their respective 3A conference. Sterling ousted Resurrection Christian in overtime inside the Patriot while Manual and Faith Christian share the top spot in the Metro following solid wins over Kent Denver and Lutheran respectively.
Manual’s 79-41 decision at Kent Denver was the Thunderbolts’ third straight blowout win against a top quality league opponent. It followed up wins over Colorado Academy (99-63) and Jefferson Academy (90-48) by a combined 88 points last week. Kent suffered their first loss of the season overall and was missing second leading scorer Coby Gold (21.7) but even with him in the lineup, the Sun Devils may come up short against the hottest team in Class 3A.
Jaedon Bowles poured in 29 points and hit 11 of 15 shots from the field to lead Manual. Jaden Stoffell dropped in 27 and connected on 10 of his 17 attempts. Those two also combined for seven three-pointers. Davion Davis also played an important role with 10 assists and five steals.
Next up for Manual is a home game with Prospect Ridge on Thursday. They host Faith Christian next Wednesday in a game that could decide the overall league championship. The two clubs head to the weekend at 3-0 in league play and tied for the lead.
Faith Christian kept pace with Manual by earning a hard fought and quality road win at Lutheran 48-47. Isaiah Kroll topped the winners with 15 points. Graham Kroll added 12 and Caleb Ruter also reached double figures with 10. Jacob Thielen did much of the dirty work with 10 rebounds and four assists. He also chipped in six points. The Eagles also tangle with Colorado Academy on Thursday so they can’t focus directly on Manual as the Mustangs will be a tough out.
Sterling had not lost a Patriot league game since falling to Resurrection Christian (66-63) in February 2017 and that streak almost ended where it started. The Tigers were forced to overtime at Loveland on Tuesday but took control in the extra four minutes for a 63-54 win. The road victory pushed Sterling to 3-0 in league play and they remain tied with Strasburg (3-0) and Frontier Academy (2-0) atop the standings. Resurrection Christian, which received 25 points from junior Reece Johnson, lost for the first time in the Patriot. The Cougars are tied with Eaton and Valley in a three-way tie for fourth place.
Sterling entertains Eaton on Friday and then faces both Strasburg and Frontier Academy next week so they’re entering a stretch where they can take control of the Patriot chase.
Strasburg picked up their third league win at Platte Valley 38-37 behind 10 points from JC Spence and nine from Trystran Graf. The Indians limited the Broncos to just 27 percent shooting from the field (12-45). Bryson Becker still managed a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Broncos.
Frontier Academy stuffed Estes Park 69-56 Tuesday night. The Wolverines have now won three straight entering their home game with Platte Valley on Friday.
The key game inside the Tri Peaks this week is set for Saturday as Lamar entertains Vanguard. The teams are a combined 7-0 in league play and they both have a one game edge on James Irwin, Colorado Springs Christian and St Mary’s. Both leaders have important conference wins on their resume already as the Savages bested CS Christian and the Coursers outscored St Mary’s.
Lamar has been a pleasant surprise this season as the Savages (8-2) need just five more wins to register their most victories in the MaxPreps era (since 2005). They’ve won 12 games in that span three times, but appear to be in good position to surpass that number. Another home win on Saturday puts them in great position to earn the Tri Peaks championship.
Dylan Vallejos (16.2) and Austin Sneller (10.3) pace Lamar in scoring. Vallejos may be the key as he will face Vanguard’s talented backcourt duo of Seth Fuqua and Dominique Clifford. Vallejos has scored at least 13 points in every game this year but his decisions on pace and defense may be more important that points on the board this Saturday.
Fuqua (23.1) and Clifford (20.1) combine for 43 points a game and Clifford also pulls down a team best 11 rebounds per game. Fuqua has totaled at least 15 points in every game this season including a 31-point effort against Delta. Clifford has tallied at least 11 points in every game and has been above 22 in his last four. Clifford has five double-doubles on the season including in his last three games where’s he totaled 69 points and 49 rebounds.
Colorado Springs Christian stayed one game back of the leaders with a narrow 70-68 win at Manitou Springs Tuesday. The loss was the second in league play for Manitou Springs and it may have knocked them out of the championship chase.
The Lions are off until next Friday when they host Buena Vista before meeting St Mary’s the next night. Manitou Springs is back on the road Friday at Salida.
We expected the Intermountain chase to be balanced this year and that’s the case early on. No team has played more than two conference games but only two of the six squads are unbeaten in the league. Those two are Alamosa and Bayfield as the Moose and Wolverines are both 1-0. The two rivals were scheduled to play last Friday but the game was postponed due to weather and has been rescheduled for January 22nd. This week, Alamosa has long road trips to Montezuma Cortez and Pagosa Springs. Bayfield is home to Monte Vista and Centauri on Thursday and Friday.
After falling to Montezuma Cortez in their league opener (58-53), Pagosa Springs avoided a costly second loss by winning at Centauri 43-42 this past Monday. The difference was actually the first quarter where the Pirates outscored the Falcons 15-9. Before hosting Alamosa on Saturday, the Pirates go to Monte Vista on Friday.
Gunnison tossed a surprising result into the early Western Slope mix when they stunned Coal Ridge 70-63 last weekend. It was the Cowboy’s eighth straight win and probably their most impressive through the first half. The Cowboys trailed by nine at halftime but outscored the Tians 43-29 in the second to post the victory. The win kept them tied with Delta and Olathe atop the standings. The Cowboys should stay perfect in West Slope this weekend with games against Aspen and Basalt Friday and Saturday.
Coal Ridge is now forced to probably win out the rest of the way to remain in the title chase. The defending league champions, who received 19 points and 13 rebounds from Kevin DiMarco have an important game with Delta on Friday. Another loss puts the Titans two games off the pace and losses to the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings.
Delta (7-3) opened the week with a tough loss to 4A Montrose (44-41) which snapped their five-game winning streak. The Panthers have a good win over Roaring Fork (40-31) in league play and also topped Basalt with ease on the road. Six players, including five seniors, average at least seven points a game in the balanced Panthers attack. Andrew Baier is the top scorer (9.9) and rebounder (7.2). He totaled 14 points and nine boards against Roaring Fork.
Five teams remain unbeaten in the Frontier with Middle Park and KIPP Collegiate collecting the most wins at 3-0. DSST-Stapleton, the pre-season favorite, is 2-0 with Sheridan and Academy both 1-0.
Jackson Wolfe scored 25 points to lead four players in double figures Tuesday night as Middle Park dumped Lake County 76-53. They next face Bruce Randolph on Friday. KIPP Collegiate scored a 55-51 win at Arrupe Jesuit on Monday. Jonathon Cosme scored 19, Jesus Garcia and David Dominquez both 12 in leading them to a fourth straight win.
Probably the most important game yet to be played this week is set for Wednesday as KIPP Collegiate hosts Sheridan as the loser falls out of first place.
DSST-Byers (3-0) shares the Confluence lead with Lotus School and Strive Prep (both 1-0). DSST-Byers became the title favorite with their 73-52 win over Green Valley on Monday night. They won the first quarter 24-9 and then led 43-20 at halftime. The Falcons host Lotus School on Wednesday night.