It’s been almost tradition at Colorado Preps to focus on the annual matchups between Centauri and Pagosa Springs as each time the long-time rivals meet, a league championship, district crown or even a state tournament pairing is on the agenda.  The first of their two conference battles is set for today and for the first time in quite a while, neither club is in the 3A Top 10.

Photo by OT Sportscheck

That doesn’t mean the game is not important.  Even though they’re outside the rankings, both have their eyes on the league championship again.  The two are battling Alamosa and Montezuma Cortez for the title.  The game serves as the league opener for the Falcons while the Pirates have already played two games; falling to Alamosa while beating Bayfield.

Centauri is 4-5 on the season and enters the conference schedule dropping three of their last four.  All three losses are against teams in the top 10, Delta, St Mary’s and Vanguard.  The lone win in the stretch came against 4A Pueblo East.  The Falcons are young and without a senior on the roster this year.  Balance has been their strength for many years and that’s the case again this year as Dyani Ojedau (8.8), Abbey Smith (8.6) and Amaya Garcia (8.3) all average eight points a game.

Pagosa Springs is even younger as the offense is led by two freshmen.  Elizabeth Currier (11.0) and Karsyn Shahan (10.9) both average double figures.  Currier is coming off a 22-point effort in the win over Bayfield; Shahan dropped in a career high 21 in the early win over Ignacio.

Staying out west, a share of first place in the 2A Western Slope is up for grabs as #6 Soroco makes the trek over to Meeker.  Both are unbeaten in early conference lead and they sit tied atop the standings with North Park.  Soroco (11-1) has the much better record and they also own a key league win over Cedaredge from last week.  Lexi Vandenburg scored a team-best 10 points in the 42-41 decision.  Peyton Parker and Sophia Benjamin both added nine and Eden Mayer chipped in eight.

Meeker has just five wins on the season but three are in conference against Vail Christian, Olathe and Caprock Academy.  Three-year starter Sarah Kracht is their top option as she enters the game scoring 22 points a game.

In the 4A Western Slope, today’s winner between Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs takes over the top spot in the conference.  Both are 3-0 and enter the game with a one-game edge on Summit.  It’s somewhat of a surprise to see the Sailors battling for a league title as they captured just one win last year and have just 13 combined wins over the past five years.  Glenwood Springs is favored as they’ve won their three league games by a combined 92 points.

Durango looks to bounce back from a tough 43-40 loss to #10 Grand Junction Central on Friday but they meet another good club in Fruita Monument (12-2).  Fruita Monument opened the SWL schedule with a convincing 42-19 win over Montrose on Tuesday so a win keeps them tied with Central for the early conference lead.

On the Eastern side, most of the attention will be centered on the 2A clash between #2 Limon and #4 Holyoke.  Both clubs are serious state championship contenders; the Badgers are the defending champs while the Dragons are more than tested as they compete in the rugged Lower Platte.

Limon (9-1) could use a major test.  None of their games have been decided by less than 12 points.  Each win is by at least 17 points and their only loss, against 3A #2 Eaton, came by the final of 57-45.  Holyoke has had three games determined by single digits including their only loss; a 51-49 setback to #3 Sedgwick County.

The game features a tremendous inside battle between Limon’s Trista Marx and Holyoke’s Kristin Vieselmeyer.  Marx is the returning player of the year in Class 2A and is averaging 18.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 steals this year.  Vieselmeyer also earned first-team all-state honors last year and is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds on the year.

There’s quite a bit more talent on the floor as well.  Limon gets plenty of solid play from Jordan Tacha and Jentri Marx.  They combined for nearly 16 points and 14 rebounds a game.  Holyoke’s Lauren Herman leads the Dragons with 10.9 rebounds and is second to Vieselmeyer with 12.3 pois per game.  Elise Krogmeier also does some good work on the inside with eight points and seven rebounds a night.

The outcome also factors heavily into the 2A RPI standings.  Holyoke is third and Limon fifth going into the matchup.

There’s also a sneaky good 1A game between #9 Cheyenne Wells and Kiowa today.  The Tigers should remain in the top 10 with a win while Kiowa could climb into the poll next week with a victory of their own.  They’ve played just five games but won each of them including a solid 62-57 win over Elbert earlier this week.  The Indians overcame a ten-point deficit in the first quarter to stay unbeaten.

Cheyenne Wells moved to 8-1 by beating Wiley 34-13 on Friday.  It was the second straight game and the fourth time this season, the Tigers have held an opponent to under 20 points.  They’ve allowed more than 35 points only once and that came in the season opening loss to Idalia (56-30).

#4 McClave (8-1) and Springfield (6-3) have a rematch of their championship battle from the Lamar Holiday Tournament today.  The Cardinals easily won the crown; downing the Longhorns 54-29 back in December.  Maggie Chase (12) and Anna Beckett (11) combined for 23 points in the win and freshman Chloe Weber added ten.  Springfield hit just 30 percent of their field goal attempts and did not get a player in double figures.  The Longhorns also committed 17 turnovers to just nine for the Cardinals.

#5 Merino continues their rugged slate against 2A Dayspring Christian (7-2).  Throughout the 19-game regular season, the Rams will face ten 2A opponents.  This game starts a stretch of six straight against the bigger classification including league pairings against Akron, Sedgwick County, Holyoke and Yuma.  They also face defending champion Limon next Saturday.

In the big school ranks, #1 Mullen (4A) faces #8 Ralston Valley (5A).  Meaningless to any conference race, the outcome though is very important for RPI standings.  Mullen is the defending 4A state champion and is ranked second by the coaches but sits fourth in the power rankings.  Ralston Valley is much higher in the RPI (4th) than the coaches polling (8th).

Seniors Gracie Gallegos (16.9) and Kilah Freelon (13.3) top Mullen in scoring with classmate Imani Perez (8.4) hauling in the most rebounds.  Ralston Valley’s offense gets 17 points a game from Saya Sabus with younger sister Sophia dropping in 12.  Finley Timon adds 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.