A few league games have been sprinkled in here and there, but for the most part, the 3A boys’ basketball conference schedule hits full speed this week. League championships are one of the top goals for each club and it’s important as title winners land automatic berths in the 32-team state tournament field.
Our weekly reports open this week and we look at each conference race and some of the favorites and top players going in. We also list the conference games for each league on tap this week.
Alamosa has won outright or earned a share of every league title the past four years and should be in contention again. But it will be a great race as all six teams have enough talent to make a serious run. Montezuma Cortez (8-0) and Centauri (8-1) enter the league slate with the best records while Pagosa Springs, Bayfield and the Moose all sport winning records. Monte Vista (3-4) is below five hundred, but now healthy, the Pirates will be a tough out for any opponent as they pushed highly ranked Kent Denver to the end before falling on a last second shot last weekend.
Alamosa and Bayfield get together on the opening weekend as they collide on Friday night. Alamosa won both conference meetings last year but Bayfield took the district battle on their way to the overall state championship.
The Moose are very balanced offensively with the trio of Ian Jackson (15.0), Brendan Crowther (14.3) and Chad Jackson (13.8) all scoring in double figures. Crowther also tops the team in rebounds (7.8) and three pointers (13).
Bayfield counters with the tandem of Turner Kennedy (20.7) and Hayden Farmer (10.7) who played both important roles in the Wolverines championship push last season. Together they also combine for nearly 12 rebounds. Ethan Morris (6.7) is the team leader in that category.
Both teams are also in action on Saturday as the Wolverines host unbeaten Montezuma Cortez and Alamosa faces local rival Monte Vista on the road.
Pagosa Springs may have the most difficult weekend as they have two major road trips in opposite directions. First, they head to Cortez for a Friday night battle with the Panthers and after a late night return home, hit the bus on Saturday for a northern visit to Centauri. The Pirates have a game under the belt in January as they edged Sanford 40-38 last weekend.
The game may serve as the most difficult test of the season for Montezuma Cortez. The Panthers moved to 8-0 on the season by beating neighbors Ignacio (70-54) and Durango (56-38) as part of the Southwest Classic last weekend. Leading scorer Teagan Whiteskunk (20.4) dropped in 20 against Ignacio and added 10 against Durango. He also combined for 10 points and 11 rebounds.
|Alamosa at Bayfield||Montezuma Cortez at Bayfield|
|Pagosa Springs at Montezuma Cortez||Pagosa Springs at Centauri|
|Monte Vista at Centauri||Alamosa at Monte Vista|
Six teams have spent time inside the Class 3A Top 10 this year so league fans are in for another interesting race. Kent Denver (7-0) is the highest ranked team and enters the league schedule as the only league unbeaten. Jefferson Academy (8-1) was also there until the Monday night loss to Weld Central (55-54) where they let a 11-point halftime lead slip away.
Other top teams and state tournament contenders include Colorado Academy (7-2), Lutheran (6-2), Manual (5-2) and Faith Christian (6-3).
Eight league games are on the schedule this week but focus on three including two involving Jefferson Academy. The Jags host Kent Denver on Wednesday and Manual on Friday. The third matchup of note has Colorado Academy going to Manual on Wednesday.
Jefferson Academy has not played a ranked opponent all season but that changes against Kent Denver. The Jags rely heavily on the trio of Elian Soto (18.9), Riley Welsch (16.1) and Zace Buckhold (10.1) on the offensive end as no other player averages more than four. JA has 44 three-pointers on the season including 21 from team leader Soto.
Kent Denver is coming off a solid weekend where they won two road games in the San Luis Valley; beating Alamosa in overtime and Monte Vista on a last second shot. James Doyle (25.3) and Colby God (22.2) each have scored over 40 points in a game this year and they went for 19 and 18 in the win over Alamosa.
When Manual and Colorado Academy meet on Wednesday, both teams will try to shake off some holiday rust as quickly as possible. The Thunderbolts have not played since beating Skyview on December 20th and the Mustangs have been off since December 19th. Colorado Academy has won five straight since falling at Steamboat Springs; Manual has captured two in a row since a road loss at #1 Sterling.
CA’s offense is centered again on the guard tandem of DeAnte Dennis (18.1) and Alex Mushkin (17.2). Dennis has scored at least 20 points in his last three games and Mushkin netted his season high of 27 in a quality win over Platte Valley.
Jaedon Bowles (24.3) gets most of the attention from opposing defense, but the Thunderbolts have three others scoring in double figures. Jaden Stoffell scores nearly 13 per game, Adontre Thompson and Davion Davis 12.
|Lutheran at Prospect Ridge||Kent Denver at Peak to Peak|
|Faith Christian at Skyview Academy||Machebeuf at Skyview Academy|
|Kent Denver at Jefferson Academy||Manual at Jefferson Academy|
|Colorado Academy at Manual||Faith Christian at Stargate|
Top ranked Sterling is again favored to land the league championship and they’ll carry a 19-game conference winning streak into their opener at Valley on Tuesday night. The Tigers haven’t lost a Patriot league game since early February 2017 to Resurrection Christian. They’ll meet the Cougars next week in game three of their conference slate. Also up this week is a Friday game with Brush.
After the Tigers, the race is wide open with several teams likely pushing for spots two through four. Resurrection Christian (6-3), Platte Valley (6-2), University (7-2), Brush (5-2) and Eaton (5-4) are among the large group of teams that will battle for those positions and a couple games this week will begin the sorting out process. On that list is the Tuesday affair between Platte Valley-Resurrection Christian and then contests between Eaton-Platte Valley and Resurrection Christian-University later in the week.
Based on scheduling, Resurrection Christian may be the choice right now. The Cougars have played five Class 4A teams including a solid 65-56 decision over Wheat Ridge to finish up December. Juniors Reece Johnson (17.5) and Josh Romero (13.1) played heavy minutes a year ago and return as offensive leaders for the team. Classmate Jude Howell (11.6) is also averaging double digits.
Two losses by the Cougars are against 3A powers Colorado Academy and Lutheran. And on Tuesday, they face a Platte Valley club (6-2) that also has losses to the same two opponents. The Broncos first option offensively is Bryson Becker. The 6-6 center leads the team in points (22) and rebounds (11) and has been over 30 points in three games this season. He was also held to a season low 10 points in the loss to Lutheran and totaled 16 against Colorado Academy.
Offensive support comes from Trevon Wehrman (6.3), Kyle Horn (5.8), Cameron Gentry (5.5) and Kade McDaniel (5.3).
University (7-2) has been a major surprise this season and needs just one more win to match their win total from last season (8-15). Freshman Tayt Chacon has helped with the improvement as he leads the Bulldogs with nearly 16 points a game and chips in five rebounds. Andre Chacon is the top rebounder (7.8) and is second in points with 13. Jaden Humphrey (10.0) is a third double-figure scorer and Logan Menlove (9.9) is basically a fourth.
Friday’s matchup with Resurrection Christian is a coaching reunion for Bruce Dick and Bobby Irvin. Irvin served as an assistant at Resurrection Christian for many years before taking the reins at University this past summer.
Eaton looks to end a three-game skid when they line up against Estes Park on Tuesday. The Reds were 5-1 but closed December with losses to Kent Denver, Pagosa Springs and Roaring Fork. Sophomore Scott Grable (13.1) is top scorer and Junior Nic Inda is next (10.1). Five others average between 5-8 points in a balanced Reds attack.
|University at Brush||Estes Park at Strasburg|
|Platte Valley at Resurrection Christian||Valley at Liberty Common|
|Estes Park at Eaton||Eaton at Platte Valley|
|Liberty Common at Strasburg|
|Sterling at Valley||Friday|
|Frontier Academy at Liberty Common|
|Resurrection Christian at University|
|Brush at Sterling|
League play started before Christmas and through the early rounds Vanguard (3-0), Manitou Springs (3-0) and Lamar (2-0) share the early lead. La Junta, St Mary’s, James Irwin, Colorado Springs Christian, Salida and Florence all have one league loss so there’s plenty of basketball remaining before a clear-cut favorite emerges.
Of the three leaders, Lamar may have been the most important win thus far as they edged Colorado Springs Christian 52-51 over the weekend. Dylan Vallejos (14), Damian Ramos (13) and Isaiah LaTour (12) all reached double figures. And they picked up the win despite hitting just 28 percent of their shots. A main difference was the foul line where the Savages hit 13 of 17 attempts compared to just 2-4 for the visiting Lions.
The Savages have just one game this week as they visit Ellicott on Friday. Showdowns with Vanguard (19th) and Manitou Springs (26th) are set for later this month.
In the loss, Colorado Springs Christian picked up 21 points from Brandon Pitt; his third game of at least 20 points this season. But because of the road loss, the Lions may be forced to win out in their remaining conference schedule to stay in contention for the title. They meet both Salida and La Junta this weekend in important games as both opponents have just one early league loss as well.
Manitou Springs has a tough test with high scoring St Mary’s on Friday. The Pirates dropped a conference game to Vanguard (89-79) last Friday so they’re in the same boat at Colorado Springs Christian. Another loss will greatly damage their league title hopes.
The Pirates average 82 points per game and give up only 54. Losses are against Kent Denver by five points, Resurrection Christian by 15 and then Vanguard by ten. Four players average double figures in points and two others are above seven. The list is headed by freshman Sam Howery (15.7).
Manitou Springs is 3-0 in Tri Peaks play but just 1-4 outside. Conference wins are against Atlas Prep, James Irwin and La Junta so their toughest tests are in front of them. They get in a tune-up with Machebeuf on Tuesday before facing St Mary’s on Friday. Ellicott is also on the schedule for Saturday.
Vanguard opened January by beating St Mary’s and Ellicott and will be favored to get by Trinidad and Buena Vista this weekend. Dominique Clifford (25) and Seth Fuqua (24) combined for 49 points against St Mary’s. Joseph Padilla added 17.
|Atlas Prep at Colorado Springs Christian||Vanguard at Buena Vista|
|Salida at Trinidad|
|Friday||La Junta at Colorado Springs Christian|
|Manitou Springs at St Mary’s||Ellicott at Manitou Springs|
|Colorado Springs Christian at Salida||James Irwin at Florence|
|Trinidad at Vanguard|
|Lamar at Ellicott|
|Atlas Prep at Florence|
Conference play opens this week with Coal Ridge (9-0) heavily favored to end up with the championship. The Titans have three more wins than other league opponent and went through the schedule last year without a loss (9-0) in claiming the title by one game over Roaring Fork (8-1).
The Titans open defense of that championship on Wednesday against Basalt and then travel to Gunnison on Saturday.
Two of the top challengers are Delta and Roaring Fork and they collide on Friday in Delta. Roaring Fork (4-5) is below five hundred but has momentum from December after winning their final three games. They finished the pre-Christmas schedule by beating Pagosa Springs, Colorado Springs Christian and Eaton. Losses against Lutheran, Resurrection Christian, Montrose and Palisade also have them battle tested for the Western Slope chase.
Delta is also riding a three-game win streak. They’ve posted wins over Centauri and Manitou Springs along with quality losses to Alamosa and Vanguard. Their top five scorers are seniors with Andrew Baird (12.0) and John Ames (10.7) leading the way. Kyle Mock (9.3) and Jonathon Robinson (9.0) are provide offensive help.
Friday’s matchup with end a 20-day drought without a game for both teams as neither has played since December 22nd.
|Basalt at Coal Ridge||Delta at Basalt|
|Coal Ridge at Gunnison|
|Friday||Moffat County at Olathe|
|Moffat County at Gunnison|
|Roaring Fork at Delta|
|Aspen at Cedaredge|
|Grand Valley at Olathe|
Without a conference game played yet, it’s difficult to get a read on this division as the race is again wide open. Through non-league play, Middle Park (5-2) has the best record and is the highest ranked team in the RPI at #28. DSST-Stapleton (4-4) routinely plays the most difficult schedule and that’s the case again this year so they’re favored to land the championship. They’re 36th in RPI and will meet Middle Park on February 5th.
Both teams have two games this week. Middle Park opens conference play at home against Jefferson on Tuesday and entertains Pinnacle two days later. DSST-Stapleton finishes the week at home against Jefferson on Saturday and also faces Bruce Randolph on Tuesday.
|Bennett at Arrupe Jesuit||Jefferson at KIPP Collegiate|
|DSST-Stapleton at Bruce Randolph||Pinnacle at Middle Park|
|Jefferson at Middle Park||Sheridan at Platte Canyon|
|Platte Canyon at Pinnacle||Bruce Randolph at Bennett|
|Clear Creek at Academy||Platte Canyon at Arrupe Jesuit|
|Lake County at Bennett|
|Pinnacle at KIPP Collegiate|
|Academy at Bruce Randolph|
|Jefferson at DSST-Stapleton|