A few games are being played this week but most girls’ basketball clubs around the state closed up the December portion of their schedule last week.  Colorado Preps took advantage by taking in several games from Thursday through Saturday with stops at tournaments in Akron and Lamar sandwiching a very important game in Class 1A last Friday.


Friday is where we start, as we did take in the much-anticipated battle between #1 Flatirons Academy and #2 Briggsdale.  The Falcons gained the win by 14 points and on that night were clearly the better team.  At this stage of the season, Briggsdale is deeper as they earned contributions from eight players while the defending state champion Bison are relying heavily on their top three returnees.  That depth wore down Flatirons Academy, especially in the second quarter, where Briggsdale gained an eight-point advantage that they did not relinquish through the entire second half.

Briggsdale senior Kylie Krise scored 27 points in the Falcons win over defending state champion Flatirons Academy – PHOTO BY VALERIE KRISE / OT SPORTSCHECK

Two key stretches of the game in our mind and both involved Briggsdale senior all-state standout Kylie Krise.  She collected a second foul with four minutes left in the first quarter and headed to bench with the Falcons trailing 10-4.  With her out of the lineup, the Falcons scored the final 10 points of the first quarter for a 14-10 advantage and that’s a good confidence boost for the team.  They proved to themselves that they compete with a top-level opponent without their leader on the floor.

The second stretch came late in the third quarter with Briggsdale leading 39-30.  Krise hit a big three pointer and then recorded a steal and layup to finish off a personal five-point run that moved the lead to 14 with just over a minute left in the third.  That margin would remain virtually the same over the final nine minutes of the game.  Krise finished with 27 points.

The win moved Briggsdale to the top of the 1A rankings this week and also becomes the team to beat for the state championship.  As mentioned, they have depth and feature good size and good length in the starting five.  That length allowed the Falcons to throw over the 1-3-1 zone trap from the Bison and gave them several layups against that pressure.  Kylie Krise, Jenna Krise and Peyton Nicklas are a tremendous trio on the outside for the Falcons.  All three can knock down a three, get to the rim, hit free throws and handle the ball well.  Their three-person weave midway through the fourth quarter ran off most of the remaining clock and prevented the Bison from making a run.

Flatirons Academy remains a state title contender.  Please note they fell to Briggsdale during the regular season last year and then avenged that loss in the semifinals on their way to their first-ever state championship.  Their big three of Kenlee Durrill (17), Emma Cox (12) and Emily DeHaan (10) combined for 39 points and every coach in Class 1A would take any or all of the three.  But to repeat as state champions, other contributors will need to step up as the Falcons focused their defense on those three including a double-team of Cox on the inside.

Freshman Annabelle Rakers could be a key for the Bison moving forward.  She will get plenty of looks as defenses clamp down on the big three but she hit just one of eight shots against Briggsdale.  To her credit, Rakers kept firing despite the tough night which tells us she’s a much better shooter than what we witnessed against Briggsdale.

Akron’s Addi Kessinger is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds a game thus far this season and is a solid player but Stratton sophomore Sedonia Isenbart was easily the best player overall at the Akron tournament last week.  She knocked down three FTs in the closing seconds of the championship game giving the Eagles a come-from-behind 42-41 win over Akron in the title contest.  The Eagles outscored the Rams 15-4 in the fourth quarter to rally from a 10-point deficit.

Now we did not see that game, but got a chance to watch Isenbart in the Thursday semifinal against Idalia.  Official stats have not been posted, but Isenbart can handle the ball, make the proper pass, hit the three and as displayed in the championship game, can be deadly from the free throw line.  After transferring from Kit Carson, Isenbart is in her first year with the Eagles so the crew will only get better after Christmas as roles are defined and new teammates learn to play better together.

Other contributors for Stratton were Claudia Sanza, Kennedy Frank, Madison Tagtmeyer, Saylor Dempsey and Emma Bohnen.  There’s not a lot of size on the roster and that will hinder them.  The schedule after Christmas includes league battles with Limon, Burlington and Byers so they will be tested ahead of regional tournaments.  We expect them to qualify from districts and the seeding for regional will be important as they will be fighting with highly ranked teams such as Briggsdale, Fleming, Haxtun, Merino and Lone Star for one of three available spots.

Even though they lost to Stratton that night, Idalia will remain a factor in the YWKC and should be another team that reaches the regional round.  Kylie Wingfield and Kiersten Wingfield seem to be their best players and the Wolves will rely on them for scoring throughout the season.  There are five seniors on the roster and that experience will only boost their chances.  That group includes starters Camren Morris and Tara Hubbard.

As mentioned, Akron has a very good player and all-state candidate in Kessinger.  She scored 12 points in the loss to Stratton and got plenty of help from Janessa Shook who led the way with 13.  She’s important moving forward as is senior Quincy Basler who added seven points.  Those two and others must play well for Akron to advance out of the 2A district tournament.  That’s a tough climb as they’ll be paired with top 10 rivals Sedgwick County, Holyoke, Wray and Yuma and a good Burlington team also comes into the bracket for the post-season.  Only the top three teams get an automatic bid to regionals but Akron may be a strong candidate to earn an at-large berth as they will play a tremendous schedule.

Saturday was a fun day at the Lamar Holiday tournament for the final day of that great event.  We always enjoy the basketball but also the discussions with coaches, athletic directors, officials, tournament organizers and parents of the players.  As mentioned in early columns, it’s our favorite event of the year outside the post-season.

McClave was easily the best girls’ basketball team down there.  The Cardinals scored a top-10 win over Kit Carson on Friday and followed up by overpowering Springfield in the championship.  McClave has more than enough talent to make a state tournament appearance.  The duo of Maggie Chase and Anna Beckett will carry them this season and together they average almost 22 points per game on the season.  Both are also excellent passers on the interior with several excellent bounce passes to setup senior point Edith Mungaray.  She finished with eight points and pulled down five rebounds.

We also liked Kennedy Vallejos on defense and McKayla Kiniston who hit several mid-range shots out to three points when the defense collapsed on Chase and Beckett.

Springfield suffered their first loss in the finals but the game with McClave was by far their most difficult opponent of December.  Despite the setback, the Longhorns should contend for a district championship with likely the top challenge coming from Kim/Branson.  Regionals may be a different story as the Longhorns then have to battle McClave, Kit Carson, Wiley and Sangre De Cristo among others for a state tournament berth.

Kit Carson again has plenty of size and will be a tough matchup in the paint against the duo of Stephanie Framel and Tess Johnson.  Perimeter shooting will come from Torrie Randel and she hit three big first half shots in the third-place win over Granada.  The Wildcats have some depth and used eight players in the first quarter alone.  Lindsey Mayhan is a sophomore who had good minutes off the bench.

Granada placed fourth but had a very good tournament.  The Bobcats won a first-round game back on Thursday to advance into the winner’s bracket for the first time in almost two decades (19 years).  They are much better than in previous seasons and will beat quite a few teams this year.  Kiana Herrera is a solid player on both ends and Vanessa Ayala knocked down some outside shots.  There’s not much size and outside shooting is a must but effort will be there each night.

Wiley ended up fifth by beating Holly on Saturday.  We think the Panthers could improve enough to challenge for a regional tournament berth but will have to fight through district rivals Cheraw, Cheyenne Wells, Kit Carson and McClave.  Granada is also in there so it’s a deep and balanced district.  Demi Wollert is the leader and is a very good player who understands the game and can shoot the three.  Grace Pendleton and Johanna Brown also provide good size on the inside.