There’s a good mix of important league games and attractive non-conference matchups on the Friday girls’ basketball schedule tonight. Our daily preview looks at the best pairings across all five classifications.
Photo by Lance Wendt
Let’s start in the big school ranks where #4 Monarch (5A) could get pushed by Fort Collins in the Front Range league. There are 12 teams in the conference and no member has played more than two league games but it’s an important contest. Both are 2-0 out of the gate and they feature the best two overall records as well. Monarch is unbeaten at 11-0 with Fort Collins checking in at 10-3.
Despite top five billing, early league play has not been easy for Monarch. The Coyotes moved past traditional power Horizon (62-53) in their opener and then outlasted Fossil Ridge (55-54) in a great game on Tuesday. Natalie Guanella tops the Coyotes in scoring (18.0) for the year and tallied 25 against Horizon on 9 of 19 shooting. She then scored 18 and hit 7 of 13 shots in the narrow win over Fossil Ridge. She’s been in double figures in every game but one where she scored eight in a nine-point win over ThunderRidge.
Fort Collins has won their last five including league wins over Poudre (34-30) and Mountain Range (42-15). They’ve played a tough schedule with two in-state losses against 4A top ten’s Windsor and George Washington. The Lambkins have Horizon and Fossil Ridge next on their schedule so the next seven days could determine how high up in the league standings they end up. Freshman Avery Alcarez leads FC in scoring (11.5) and senior Emily Johnson is the top rebounder (7.1).
#1 Valor Christian and #10 Columbine collide inside the 5A Jeffco tonight. Those two and #8 Ralston Valley should battle for the championship. As defending state champions, Valor Christian is favored overall and also tonight as they battled past Columbine 42-20 last month. Reagan Beers had 19 points and the Eagles defense allowed just seven made field goals on the night. The Rebels hit just 19 percent of their shots and missed all 11 three-point attempts.
#6 Regis and #9 Chaparral play a big one inside the Continental tonight. Each is 2-0 in conference play and both are part of an early logjam that has five teams atop the standings. The other three are #3 Highlands Ranch, Legend and ThunderRidge. Combined those five clubs have 47 wins at the midway point of the season.
The Raiders returned from a tournament in Ohio to beat Mountain Vista 58-40 on Tuesday. They arrived back on campus very late the previous night. They overcame an expected slow start to outscore the Golden Eagles 19-4 in the third quarter. Madden McHugh dropped in 15 points and Sophia Meyer 12. They combined for nine three-pointers as the Raiders drilled in a dozen on the night.
Chaparral also has a league win over Mountain Vista (42-26) from last week and followed up with a 48-27 home win over Douglas County three nights ago. Avery Bang (17.7) and Payton Bang (13.3) are one-two in scoring for the Wolverines and also combine for nearly 16 rebounds a night. They totaled 23 and 14 against Mountain Vista and helped them overcome an early five-point deficit against Douglas County.
In Class 4A, #3 Mead has seven more wins overall than Erie (12-5) but their matchup tonight plays a big role in the Northern league standings. Both teams are 4-0 in the conference and sit in a first-place tie with Windsor and Holy Family. The loser of course falls off the pace.
Based on overall records, the Mavericks are heavily favored and they’re playing at home. They’re coming off a narrow 39-36 win over Centaurus on Tuesday where their offensive total was the lowest on the season. They shot just 24 percent from the field (12-51) including a difficult 1-20 from the three-point line. Expect a much better effort against the Tigers tonight.
Erie entered the conference schedule with just one win but has moved past Skyline, Greeley Central, Silver Creek and Greeley West thus far. Sophomore Madeline Hartel is the top scorer overall (13.5).
Durango (11-3) and #10 Grand Junction Central (10-1) get together in the first of two conference meetings tonight. Each won their league opener and is tied with Fruita Monument (1-0) in first place. Durango also meets the Wildcats tomorrow so they could end their first Northern swing along atop the Southwestern league standings.
The Demons struggled to open the season; falling to Pagosa Springs (3A) and Cedaredge (2A) in their first two games. They’ve won 11 of 12 since with the lone blemish against #4 Green Mountain (56-32). They carry a six-game winning streak into the contest but only one win is against a Colorado opponent. That victory came last Saturday as they blew past Grand Junction 51-12. Junior Mason Rowland (21.6) is the first option on offense and has scored at least 14 points in every game this season.
Central has won seven in a row since suffering a 55-28 setback to Ponderosa. They too have posted their only league win against Grand Junction and it came with a similar margin as Durango (53-13). Sophomores Krystyna Manzanarez (11.5) and Brynn Wagner (10.3) generate a good share of the Warriors offense.
There are three solid matchups inside the 2A/1A Lower Platte tonight as that conference sorts out the early standings. #4 Holyoke (9-1) goes to Haxtun (3-6), #10 Yuma (6-4) visits #8 Wray (5-5) and Wiggins (5-2) challenges #3 Sedgwick County (6-1). All three should be very competitive and two of the three are rematches from games in December.
Holyoke downed Haxtun 61-41 behind 23 points and 10 rebounds from Kristin Vieselmeyer. She helped the Dragons to a quick 18-3 first quarter lead. Lauren Herman and Elyce Talavera each finished with 11 and Elise Krogmeier 10. Taylor Schram (16) and K’lyn Bornhoft (10) paced the Bulldogs.
Wray topped Yuma 63-49 in their season opener. The second quarter the difference there as the Eagles put together a 23-9 run over the eight minutes. Karly Godsey dropped in 23 pionts and Larissa Salmans added 14 but the Eagles were just 13 of 27 from the foul line. Yuma had just five attempts and made two. Lea Richardson topped the Indians offense with 14.
Both clubs have been inconsistent since against strong schedules as the Eagles are 5-6 following an upset loss to 1A Idalia. Yuma is 6-4 and is coming off four tight games decided by a total of 19 points. They moved past Haxtun and Burlington but fell to Holyoke and Akron inside the conference.
Wiggins is quietly 6-2 and made a statement with their 48-41 win over Brush last night. They trailed the visiting Beetdiggers 33-31 after the third quarter but then closed the game on a 17-8 run for the come-from-behind win. Stats for the game are not available but, on the season, the Tigers are led by Rachael White (15.6) and Raelyn Koenig (13.4).
Sedgwick County has been very good since the Christmas break; beating Caliche 60-23 and Haxtun 63-37. They also own a hard-fought 51-49 win over Holyoke in non-league play last month. That rematch is set for next Friday. Alison Woodhams (20), Jensen Renquist (15) and Kierra Ehnes (13) all scored double figures against Haxtun.
Could easily be a matchup of future conference champions in the San Luis Valley tonight as 1A Sangre De Cristo (8-1) visits #5 Sanford (2A). Both are expected to win their respective class inside the Southern Peaks conference. The Indians have won two straight since falling to 3A Colorado Springs Christian (42-38) in their only setback. Defense is their strength as they’ve given up just 25 points a game this year. The Caldon cousins, Asia (14.9) and Cheyenne (10.9), pace the offense.
Sangre De Cristo’s lone setback is against 2A Sargent (35-21). The T-Birds have a case to be ranked as they’re the only team to beat #7 Dove Creek this season as they edged the Bulldogs 41-39 back in December. They’ve won five straight overall including three games in three days last week over Primero, Cotopaxi, and Del Norte. They allowed just 48 points in those three wins.
Ashley Mortensen scored 17 and Peyton Metz 12 in the Del Norte win. Each also connected on two three-pointers. The T-Birds also recorded 14 steals including a combined 11 from Mortensen and Metz.
Another non-conference game of note can be found in Class 1A between #6 Stratton and #10 Kit Carson. The game could be a tough one for Stratton sophomore Sedonia Isenbart who played her freshman season with Kit Carson. As an Eagle, she’s averaging 22 points, nine steals, six rebounds and four assists while helping them to a 4-2 start. Stratton is 0-2 since Christmas but the losses are against top ranked Briggsdale and #2 Fleming; both by the identical score of 54-36.
Kit Carson (6-3) has some holes to fill on both ends of the floor as Stephanie Framel is out with injury. Through the seven games she played, the senior led the Wildcats in scoring (12.7) and was second in rebounds (5.4). With her on the sideline, Tess Johnson may be asked to do more on the inside. She’s averaging eight points and eight rebounds per game. Faye Buttry (14) and Tieler Randel (9) may also get more three-point opportunities.
The Fleming-Idalia matchup for tonight was not on our schedule of top games to start the week but was added when Idalia scored the upset to 2A ranked Wray on Tuesday. The win was the fourth straight for the Wolves since a critical 51-31 loss to Lone Star on January 4th. It also pushed their record to 7-4. The Wolves limited Wray to just 23 percent shooting from the field (20-86).
For Fleming (10-0), the game continues a recent stretch of high quality opponents. Before downing Otis on Monday (47-29), the Wildcats had beaten four straight top 10 rivals in Merino, Kit Carson, Lone Star and Stratton. Their defense was also solid against Otis as the Bulldogs made just 13 of 45 shots (29 percent).
Several more games of importance can be found across Colorado:
- St Mary’s (6-0) and Vanguard (4-0) are tied for the 3A Tri Peaks lead and each has a two-game lead on three other teams. One of them is Ellicott ((4-2) and the Thunderhawks could get a tough test with Manitou Springs (2-4) tonight. Ellicott is tied with CSCS and La Junta in third place and has split two games with them. They’ve won four straight including a 37-28 win over Buena Vista last Saturday.
- Think we could be in for a wild ride throughout the 3A Intermountain league chase as there is not a clear-cut favorite at this time. Pagosa Springs (7-2) has the best overall record and were probably the pre-season favorites but they lost to Alamosa in their opener (38-32). They recovered by drilling Bayfield 66-8 and now look for a second straight league win at Montezuma Cortez tonight. The Panthers (6-2) are playing their conference opener. Sophomore Savanna Haselroth leads the Panthers on offense (10.7).
- Due to proximity, there are good rivalries in the 1A Ark Valley conference and there’s also good basketball. The key league game this weekend pits Springfield (6-2) against South Baca (6-1). Those two should compete with Kim/Branson (8-1) for the title in what should be a tremendous race. The Longhorns have played twice since Christmas, falling to Cheyenne Wells (52-35) and beating Centennial (52-24). Brakelle Westphal (12.4) has taken over top scoring honors for the Longhorns and she totaled 12 in the win over Centennial. Alayah Meltabarger led the way with 14. South Baca has momentum from a quality and narrow 39-38 win over Wiley last Saturday. Jayden Patrick (16) and Jamie Quick (13) handled most of the offensive load.
- Cheyenne Wells has been a nice surprise in Class 1A as the Tigers have won seven of their first eight games. That success has moved them into the top 10 rankings and tonight they look for a 2-0 start inside the 1A High Plains. They host Wiley. Both teams have played their lone conference game against Kit Carson with Cheyenne Wells posting a 33-31 win and Wiley falling short 39-32. The Tigers also meet unbeaten Kiowa tomorrow so it’s a tough back-to-back for them. Their only blemish is against Idalia in their season opener. Wiley has dropped two straight as they followed up the Kit Carson game with the already mentioned loss to South Baca (39-38).